India 28. “We lose ourselves in things we love. We find ourselves there, too.”

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I loved to walk around the tourist area in Udaipur where I was temporary living.I was so fascinated every time of all the beautiful things, which were hand-made by some local traders. I loved the smell of the food in the air, and the beautiful temples around. There were many shops for souvenirs, richly fool of paintings, little sculptures of animals, or the Indian Gods. It was so amazing to be lost in all the colours around, of all the materials and beautiful «Sari» dresses, even though I didn’t buy even one. At this time I used not to wear any fur products, but I was just amazed even of the beautiful leather things I saw in the shops. They said to me that the camel leather is difficult to find and more expensive because they don’t kill the animals, only use the leather after the natural death. My best friend Kapil used to joke about that, telling me that the natural death of camels highly increase during the tourist season..

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I want to share with you some basic skills, which I never thought I would have but surprisingly I «inherit» in India. What I am talking about is how you can buy a nice, quality scarf in India, without paying a fortune for something that is fake. I decided to write about this, because I wish somebody explained me earlier the simple things I find out.

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So, in Udaipur I tried to buy nice scarves for my family and friends. The first time I went into a shop a man told me that his scarves are pashmina and he offered me a price 700 rupees for one, which is like 10 euro. He said the more I buy the bigger discount I get. Even burn a little thread of one of them to prove to me it is pashmina, because they say when pashmina burns, has the smell of human’s hair burning and the ash is very soft and black. I couldn’t stay more in the shop because I had lessons with the kids and I left. Few days later, I came back and for the same scarves, he offered me double price; maybe he didn’t remember me and when I told him that, he responded that probably it is my mistake. As I told you until this moment, I didn’t have an opportunity in my life to speak and buy from this kind of trained traders, because after all I was only 19. However, I felt this man was lying to me just to take my money, so I left again. I am always suspicious of everything or maybe curious, so I like to check everything a couple of times before making a decision. In this case, I was in India just enough time so I could understand more about the business and the truth about the pashmina scarves. So, my dear readers, let me give you some advice. A kilogram of pure pashmina often cost around 80 euro, and for one pure scarf, you need around 250-500 grams. And this is a raw price. So if you go in India and somebody offer you a pashmina scarf for 10-20 euro, first – it is not, and usually in the market you can find it for 4-5 euro (of course only if you bargain). Second, there is another danger – the scarf still can be with a high price tag, but fake. And someone burning threads in front of you sometimes won’t help. My advice is always check as many places as possible and don’t trust anyone. I can assure you Indians are masters in lying about their products and often will make you feel like you are an awful person for not trusting them and will pretend to be offended. If you want good scarves for a good price don’t get emotional. Trust me, they always lie, which is nothing bad because even 10 euro for Indian trader are a lot of money, in comparison with our standard of live and if he is not using his «selling» tricks, he will die on the street. When you walk in a shop, people are usually very nice. The best thing I’ve learned while searching for scarves and souvenirs is not bargaining of course (in spite of all the benefits, it is still bringing), but patience. When you enter in a shop in many parts in India where I have been, they accommodate you like a princess, offering you chai (tee with milk) or water, they speak nicely to you. Their aim is to make you buy as many things as possible and they always make up prices. Keep in mind that the first price they offer you is always at least 4 times higher than the real value of the product (and I am not exaggerating).

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One time my sister was amazed that for some dresses she wanted to buy I spend over an hour bargaining for about 2 euro. I know it is crazy and of course I don’t mind spending more (because this in Italy is the cost of 2 coffees) but after living there for so much time I accept that as a matter of principles. I love Indian people and their culture and everything, but after all I wasn’t a tourist in there, I went to help their kids, in whatever possible way. So I almost felt offended every time they were trying to make money, just because I am not from their nationality. And I know that they don’t feel offended when you are asking for a lower price, this is like a mind game for them. And if you are not getting what you want just pretend that you are leaving but walk slowly, they always were trying to stop me and were reducing the prices drastically. One time even one man was running after me and my sister 2-3 minutes just to ask us to return in the shop. The trader with whom I was bargaining for almost an hour after that told me that it was his pleasure spending time with a young and funny girl (he was a very old man – around 70) who is determinate and knows what she wants. And it was a pleasure for me too, because he told me something interesting – that 9 shawls of silk can be put in a small ring together, and second-he taught me that life is beautiful and we should spend time even around stupid things, not always being in a hurry and wanting more and more for no reason. And it is very important to remember that there is no «lost» time and we can learn from every single moment, no matter how meaningless it seems to be. And you know what they say.. “We lose ourselves in things we love. We find ourselves there, too.”

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