There’s one good thing that came off my time in the U.S. – I appreciate India's standard of living more now, than I did when I left for New York in August 2007.
Being a typical bambiya, it has always been my birthright to bargain for anything and everything I buy. However cheap something was I just had to haggle…A roadside store owner in Bangalore once asked me, “Madam, aap Indian toh nahi dikhte hain, par agar aap Hindustani ho, toh aap zaroor Bombay se hain.” When I asked him how he was so sure about me being from Bombay, he answered, “Sirf Bombay ke log yahan aake bhaav karte hain.” And, I have pretty much, always, lived up to that reputation.
However, after spending (pun intended!) two years in New York barely managing to cover my rent, yet never having been able to bargain there, I found India liberating…to say the least.
In the three weeks that I spent in Bombay, I surprised myself and didn’t bargain for anything even once. My experience in New York had redefined the word ‘cheap’ for me – $15 hand gloves at Old Navy was what would be considered ‘cheap’ in New York. So, anything that cost less than that in India thrilled me to bits!
Shoes: Rs. 700 (“It’s lesser than $15!”)
Sandals: Rs. 400 (“Not even $10…”)
Clothes and accessories: Rs. 100-450 (“Wow! I can get so much in $10!”)
My mother wasn’t too pleased with me comparing the prices in India to those in the U.S. “You are not earning in dollars to be converting Indian rupees into USD…so stop converting!” she said.
I guess she is right, but I figured that I’d rather be ripped off by a small store owner selling his wares on the pavements of Bandra and Colaba, than burn a hole in my pocket at stores like Gap, Old Navy, Forever 21, Charlotte Russe and Express – which more likely than not will have clothes, shoes and accessories ‘Made in India’.
Thoughts as of: April 10th, 2009.