More Kolkata Shopping

See Previous and next. Date: 27th December, 2005 Place: Kolkata

On the 27th, Monica's cousin visited us. He wanted to take us out to buy something (this is the done thing in India, it's not polite to refuse). We took a cab to New Market again (actually, only partway, as he had an argument with the cabbie and we got out and walked). He was looking for a bronze statue for us, we went from place to place and were being asked for inflated prices. Things usually ended in an argument and we walked out. Eventually, I tried waiting outside the shop - as soon as we tried this, the prices roughly quartered. The message is, if shopping in India, take a local! He also got a leather wallet for me - it's Indian style, brown with nice patterns on it. It's a bit large for trouser pockets, but just right when I'm wearing a jacket.

We headed back on the metro (which was packed) and then to Monica's Mum's appartment.

Me, Monica's Mum, Barnali, Kalpona, Anupam ShejomashiIn the evening, Anupam arrived with a chadoor for me, as I said, it's really hard to stop people buying gifts! The chadoor is great, essentially it's the West Bengal equivalent of the poncho. It's a short long blanketlike thing which you wrap around your torso, and it keeps you very warm. It came in handy when I had some time sailing on the English Channel earlier this year!

On the way back a taxi driver tried it on saying that I'd given him the wrong money, I know I hadn't. The difference was 50p or so equivalent, so not the end of the world, but it was the principle of the thing (I'd even included a tip!)

The thing I hate about India is that it can sometimes seem that everyone sees you as an easy mark. I understand it, relatively speaking we're well off, but it's very tiresome. There was one cab driver who was up front about it, he asked for a higher price, and when I pointed out that he was overcharging he said 'yes, but I've given very good service!' We agreed with him, and he got his cash. I didn't mind that, I did mind when people were sneaky about it, trying to play us for fools.

I don't want to overplay that, though - that's a small part of this great country.