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Happiness, street vendors, and negotiations......

Few days back I was watching a documentary series, "India's Frontier Trains". The three-part series was on trains connecting India with its neighbours - Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal. Yes, there is a train connection between India and Nepal, and that train is the only functioning train for the whole of Nepal.

In the episode on the train between India and Bangladesh, the program documented a life of a chocolate seller inside the train. He boards the train in the Bangladesh side of the route. A sole bread winner for a family of four, he earns by selling chocolates in the train.

He faces a perennial problem: because of hot weather conditions, his chocolates melt. In those hot days, his earnings are meager. A basic cooling device like this costs seventeen pounds and he couldn't afford that.

What moved me was the insensitive nature of some passengers in haggling with this struggling chocolate seller. They would force down the price by 10 pence or more (which is more than 10% of the product price) by telling one reason or the other. This seller, faced with poor sales, often gives away discount.  

Finally, the seller manages to save money and buys a cooler for seventeen pounds. He brings home the device, and the entire family was so happy to see their priced possession on one of the important festival days, Eid. They had no new dress, nor they had costly feast. But the sight of a new cooler was enough to bring joy in their life.

The program ends by showing how this chocolate seller is able to make more money due to the new cooler.

Often, when we meet roadside vendors, the relationship is unequal. The vendors are poor and have pressing family situations, and we (the salaried with stable income) are under no such pressure. So its easy to bring down the price. A saving of Rs 10 or Rs 20 makes us feel good. But what if we don't haggle. I think we will discover new relationships with sellers, and over a period of time, they wouldn't over price just because we don't haggle.

I think we need to go an extra mile to make these unequal transactions equal. Can we?


VkwavE said…
Yes, we should
VkwavE said…
Yes, we should
Warriortrip said…
A very informative article. It surely broadens your vision. Good work. Keep it up.

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