Sunday, 15 June 2008

half

So I should be getting ready to go to my friend’s (i.e Pelagia) wedding pre-party but I’m mad…mostly at myself…so I’m venting.

I got hustled today…technically it was yesterday but I haven’t slept yet.

Don't understand why they picked me...ok I guess it is quite obvious here that I'm a tourist. Whatever sha...I'm upset because I’m a person that gives readily and I never expect it back. If I’m ever in a similar situation in the future, I hope that this approach will serve me well...I hope I’ll have built up enough credit in the world favour bank to withdraw some kindness and see me through it. In Jesus’ name I pray this will never happen.

Right now it feels like someone found my bank account details and siphoned out my hard earned cash. I don’t get how it happened...correction...I do not understand how I let it happen!

Istanbul is a place were you can barter and I have (or thought I had acquired) some hard-nosed negotiation skills being a Nigerian. Whenever someone tells me the price, a little voice inside my head shouts “half”. I then tell them that that is all I’m willing to pay. I learnt this method early on in my pre-pubescent years because my mother use to love taking me to markets in Lagos and Ilorin. As mummy's little handbag, I became fascinated with the way she always got what seemed to be good deals. The ‘the half technique’ was mine...plus I also thought the skill might prove useful in the event of a divorce…I’d have had enough practice to automatically shout “half” ...lol.

What is still getting to me is how can I be ‘the mark’ for a con artist? Seriously, they should have rules that you cannot cheat an honest person…‘the mark’ is greedy….‘the mark wants something for nothing’. I simply wanted to buy a nice rug for my mother so I'm taking offence to the fact that the fiends decided to exploit this sentiment.

So, I was in a good mood...I had stumbled on the old hippodrome and then I went to a museum called Haghia Sophia (the name means divine wisdom). What stands there now is the 3rd version after the 1st and 2nd structures burnt down. It used to be a church in its two previous lives. In its 3rd incarnation it has been a church, then a mosque and it is now a museum. This basilica is immense…complete and rich with both Christian influences (e.g. mosaics of Mary, Jesus, and Archangel Gabriel) and Islamic & Turkish decorations (e.g. a prayer niche called a mirab placed in the direction of Mecca). I digress…

Anyway, afterwards as I head over to the Blue Mosque, ‘the roper’ approaches me offering helpful suggestions (or so I thought). By pure chance, when the lucky bastard mentions carpets an image of my mother smiling with gratitude pops into my head. She has wanted a new rug in her living room for a long while. All attempts by my father and brothers have failed. She smiles as she accepts the rugs. Then they are laid down to check for suitability but very quickly all the rugs disappear never to be seen again. I’ve always wanted to get her a Persian rug…but they are expensive…so today I thought, this is providence...I’ll get a nice silk Hereke carpet instead.

I follow ‘the roper’ to the shop. There I am introduced to ‘the floater’....there is no ‘inside man’ but there is ‘the fixer’ who will secretly help to manipulate me later with his sleight of hand technique. I see ‘the temptress’ ...her agenda is always to get ‘the mark’ to let down their guard...sultry won't work on me so instead she offers me a small cup of hot apple cider tea...then she smiles knowingly as I accept the drink (which btw is not really tea despite its name).

Something is off...now I'm uncomfortable.

Then I meet ‘the grifter’…king of con...a real confidence man. He starts his sales story and goes on and on...I feign interest until I do actually see one rug that catches my eye. The the pattern is vaguely familiar but I cannot deny that it is a beautifully crafted piece made using unusual colour combinations. In this respect, it is unique. I ask “how much is it?” To his reply I say “half”… he says no...I say thanks for the hot apple cider tea but that is my final offer. After about 30 minutes of haggling we agree on the price....I’ve moved a little sha but I’m still happy at the thought he has had to move a lot. He says I have brought him “siftah”… meaning the fortuitous spirit from the first sale that brings good luck throughout the rest of the day.

I get back to the hotel...I want to know who got the upper hand with this deal...has he cheated me?...most likely but by how much? I check the internet for the price of Hereke silk rugs...I find out that compared with the price I paid, these things are being sold for HALF”.

I hope very soon these guys come to understand that bad behaviour breeds bad luck.

I better go, I’m really really late.

20 comments:

30+ 15 June 2008 at 01:14  

Lol - I was saying loud to the PC that half does not work in some places o.

Last time I was in Lasgidi, some dude said a particular bead was 5k in Balogun the woman that was our chaperone priced it at 1k. Even I was shocked and wanted to warn her not to get us lynched.

I think we eventually bought it for like 1.1k or so

UndaCovaSista 15 June 2008 at 10:05  

Heeya, pele. I experienced something almost similar in marrakech last year (there's actually a link to my post on that experience on my latest post. you should check it out so you dont feel so bad)....They really have perfected the art of fleecing tourists!

The one experience that pained me the most was when after a taxi ride (with the meter reading clearly displayed, mind you) i naively and trustingly handed over a high denomination note expecting to be given the correct change.

The guy basically gave me back what he felt like! I was enraged and challenged him in my halting french (yes 30+, i really can't string a complete sentence together in french! Busted..)

Anyway, he spins me some kind of story about us stopping to get directions etc etc. He then calmly gets in to his cab and drives off. I was so livid i was rendered speechless and motionless for a few minutes.

In the end i had to breathe and let it go , consoling myself by saying 'Olohun a gba l'owo e' as my Mother would often say!

Sorry to go on, but reading your post brought that back vry vividly!!!

SOLOMONSYDELLE 17 June 2008 at 01:27  

hahahaha, Madam "Half" got haggled. I'm sorry but it will happen at least once even to the best of us serious Lagos-trained shoppers. No worries. Your mom will love it anyway. =)

Thanks for taking the time to read Thunder and Lightening. I truly appreciate it!

ablackjamesbond 17 June 2008 at 14:32  

Second rule of shopping- always compare prices from at least 2 shops.

Pele...life happens!

Pink-satin 17 June 2008 at 16:24  

BLOGVILLE IDOL 08 is coming soon..please check my blog for more details

rethots 18 June 2008 at 11:54  

Shubby, i want to laugh but......can't hear the sound. Guess what? Those guys don't sell rugs (whether persian or not) their trade, if i dare say is, the make people pay a 'little' extra (for anything they claim to sell). The more the little, the sweeter the game.

Anyway, a lesson learnt.....rather than 'HALF' the watchword should be 'QUARTER' but, will conscience make one think such thots freely???

Afrobabe 18 June 2008 at 16:53  

lol...at least you did not get home and see peices of rag...it's been known to happen...

K.C. 18 June 2008 at 23:38  

Just stopping in and feeling your frustration. Wondering why it has to be that way. In America, it is that way with buying cars.

To go and buy a car here, you have to take anxiety medicine of some sort before setting out...

Hope your day gets better! Kayce

OluwaDee 19 June 2008 at 10:12  

Pele o.

seems the "half" doesn't always pay off.

Shubby Doo 19 June 2008 at 15:18  

@30+ - I think I need some refresher courses with your chaperon…

@UCS – your comment actually prevented the taxi driver doing that to me at the airport. I just stood there with the door held open so he begrudgingly gave me back my change sha…so thank you.
I’m still going through your adventures in marrakech…
Hope you are loving Egypt now

@SSD – Yes you are right…for an instance I considered taking it back but my mother is worth more than 10 million times what I paid so I kept it.
re: thunder and lighting…the pleasure was mine

@ablackjamesbond – I know…
p.s what is the 1st rule of shopping?

@pinksatin – I don check am out o!…can’t wait :)

@rethots – you are laughing abi?...it is not your fault I guess…it's mine!!!:-P
Really liked the phrase ‘The more the little, the sweeter the game.’

@afrobabe – I for just cry…you know that exact thought crossed my mind when he said he would post it to me using TNT @ no extra charge… I just tell am say e don do…make he pack am for me quick quick…lol…I carried it back myself and it is just beautiful…no joke

@k.c – sounds terrible…
p.s. what pills do you recommend? lol…just kidding

@oluwadee – no I guess it doesn’t…love the pun in your comment btw…whether intended or not…I guess paying attention to Hollywood means I’ve finally come a cropper!

Smaragd 20 June 2008 at 10:19  

Eeya, pele dear. being cheated is probably the first on list of "Hates"!

I second Black007, always compare prices in at least two stalls, that'll help esp in a strange place.

Afro is also right, it could've been much worse!

Allied 20 June 2008 at 16:09  

Sorry...

But Next time compare the item you are buying in two stores.. or just do ur haggling then go back the next day with your facts (ie checking price on the internet)

Naapali 22 June 2008 at 04:24  

Pele! I could say more but I believe pele sums it up.

Naapali 22 June 2008 at 04:24  

Funny Undacova was here, as I read your tale I was thinking about her description of her experiences in Marrakesh.

Shubby Doo 22 June 2008 at 22:49  

@smaragd and allied – I know…thanks for the advice. The reason I succumbed to ‘an impulse buy’ was because I was there for a wedding that was taking place on Sunday. Saturday was the only day I had to explore and to satisfy a family rule that says one must bring something back for everyone if you go abroad...the carpet was my 1st purchase.

@naapali – Thanks doc

Atutupoyoyo 22 June 2008 at 23:59  

You do not mess with the Arab speaking world whe it comes to haggling o. They make Nigerian market women look like pre-schoolers.

I will never forget a trip to Dubai when one guy was practically crying that I am robbing him, how did I expect his family to eat, etc etc. All this for a fake designer bag.

Shubby Doo 23 June 2008 at 17:01  

@a22 – lol...pele my dear...yours is a good example of what one endures in an effort to aquire those types of designer accessories that are just simply ‘faux fabulous’

UndaCovaSista 24 June 2008 at 23:00  

You're very welcome. Glad to be of service :)
Egypt was a dream! At the end of the cruise i asked the Manager of the boat if they were hiring - that's how badly i didn't want to come back home!!!

Shubby Doo 25 June 2008 at 08:10  

@UCS - hmmm...the wonders of Egypt? or the harsh reality of England?...lol...

i no blame u 4 trying @ all

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