I love to bargain

I remember so well – those vegetable shopping trips to the South Mada Street in Mylapore and in the Thani thurai market near Sanskrit college, Mylapore. Two markets near my home and we get absolutely anything to do with cooking and of course flowers, too.  Also, there was a small shop which sells the salted peanuts fried to perfection in hot sand – OMG, that smell will just hook me and drag me to the shop.

I used to tag along with my amma or my patti, especially to carry the load of veggies, we buy for a week. And so we get to munch a carrot or radish or a lady’s finger, while trying to balance the bags – one on the shoulder (the long strap one) and the other in the hand. I also used to get an additional bonus of 25 paise for buying peanuts, which I used to munch while walking back home with 2 heavy bags.

With my mom, it’s a more technical shopping – she’ll buy the root vegetables first and put it in. Then the tomatoes and other soft stuff on top, to avoid the crushing of soft ones.  So, one bag will surely be more heavier, with all the root veggies in it.

I learnt a lot – to choose the tender ones, to look for skin color in some veggies, check for worms…so many other things and of course, with it, the art of  Bargaining.

Isn’t bargaining an art by itself ??? While I watched my amma and patti bargaining so well, I’ve also seen my appa, pay the amount they ask. We had all sorts of people at home.

Elumichai pazham eppadi ????  How much are the lemons ???

Pathu roobaikku naalu.  4 for 10/-

Anju kudaen. Give 5 na.

Athalleam kattu padi aagadhu ma. All those won’t work out fine.

Amma will pester and talk some more and convince some more, till she gets 5 for 10/-

I was enthralled at this conversation. I thought that this is the way I should shop.  Those people always raised the prices and its our job to bargain and reduce the price, before buying, was my idea.

Then slowly, I was sent on my own to buy things. I was first hesitant to bargain. And the vendors too thought that what this little girl will know about bargaining. How wrong were they ??? I did bargain and got the veggies at a lesser rate than he told. And that was only the beginning.

I loved those talks – the bargains – me and the vendor used to have great conversations, while bargaining – starting from the economic policy of the country due to which the prices are sky-rocketing to the farm from which he gets his greens. I used to love them all.

The bargaining went for anything – even when I used to buy those accessories for my dresses, in those countless platform shops in and around Luz Corner – those lovely handbags – the stylish chappals – those dolls, which we used to keep in the Bommai Kolu during Dussherra.

Then slowly came in the culture of supermarkets in Chennai and Food World caught everyone by surprise. I started loving those trips to the supermarkets, where you get everything under one roof, in a much cleaner environment than the South Mada Street vegetable shop. But there was one thing that disturbed me – I couldn’t bargain here – I had to buy it at the cost displayed – even the vegetables were neatly packed and sealed and priced. The most horrendous thing was I had to pay for my curry leaves and coriander. That was too much for me – all along, when we bought vegetables in those Mylapore markets, we always get the curry leaves and coriander for free. That was a happy moment, when the shopkeeper acknowledges the fact that you’ve chosen his shop among many and made some business for him. And we are happy with the free coriander – can make some good chutney at home.

Then slowly and slowly the super-market culture grew over me and I stopped visiting those markets, but still they have a special place in my heart.  Even today, I go to South Mada Street, to buy some delicacy like mavadu (those small raw mangoes). It’s the best only in those markets.

Now a days, I go to the super market, in my apartment, to choose the veggies or better still, the lazy one in me, calls the super market to home deliver the veggies. I’ve actually forgotten the art of bargaining…wherever we go it’s a fixed price shop right.

But, we do love the SALES, where the prices drop and we get to buy more for the same money.  🙂 😉 I think its human tendency.

Today morning, when I bought the veggies, the lady gave me coriander and curry leaves for free…WOW, I was reminded of my veggie shopping days and endless bargaining.

So, do u love those open markets, where you can buy and bargain and converse too ???  Or has the super-market bug, bit you too ???? 😉


61 Replies to “I love to bargain”

  1. I am really bad at haggling over prices………

    dont ever think I can ever learn the art!

    I tried doing it this time in jan when I was home at west mambalam……… was really bad at it….


      1. Oh I bargain pretty well too and for veggies, I always prefer the markets – always Monda market for me here 🙂 I luvvvv that visual treat, the bargaining where I sometimes get stuff for half of the prize they quote 😛 The best thing ofcourse is all the colour and variety u take in while shopping! Bliss!


      2. Great Swaru…even I love the Monda market over there… 🙂

        The whole place is so vibrant with ppl, noise, veggies na…as u said its bliss to be shopping there… 🙂


  2. We have veg market here on every thursday uma and i love to go there and get fresh veggies which i used to miss in dubai.My mom does all the bargaining,i hardly do it.

    U used to eat lady’s finger raw ???

    In oman we used to get curry leaves,mint leaves and coriander leaves free after every purchase of veggies.


    1. Welcome to the Indian way, Sari – its certainly more fun na…but I envy you that you get to go shopping with ur mom… 😉

      Yeah, raw bhindi is very tasty…. 😛

      That free coriander, curry leaves are the catch, isn’t it ??? 😉


  3. If it will make you any happy, let me tell my heart wrenching story in this land. It seems like no one in this land has ever heard about the word BARGAIN, it’s like they don’t have it in their American Edition of the Oxford Dictionary 😥 No SALE sign which is displayed throughout the year in every shop here can bring that satisfaction I used to derive by bargaining with shop keepers back home…ayoo me wailing like a leaking pot right now here 😥 😥 😥 To top it all, we have to pay almost a dollar for a few dried curry leaves mummyfied in a plastic bag 😯 and yeah they sell Coriander by disguising it’s name as Cilantro to make it sound hip and make us pay. Pahhh I want my free coriander and then the chutney tastes much better…sobs!

    psst psst Jokes apart I used to love chit chatting with the regular vegetable vendors 😛 They used to think that am one intelligent girl you see 😉


    1. Welcome back, blue shoes lady…good to see you after a long time. 😉

      I can totally understand the heart-wrenching story – without bargaining its no fun, right ???

      Whaaatt ??? One dollar for a few dried curry leaves ???? Thats robbery !!!! 😯

      Yeah, yeah, cilantro it is there na…I thot it was a different variety with much bigger leaves than coriander…is it not so ???

      Oh, the conversations are actually the great time-passers – just love them… 🙂


      1. Like that phamous Sphere man once said “what is in a name? That which we call a coriander by any other shape (cilantro) will be used for chutneys and garnishing only”

        The cilantros don’t smell heavenly like coriander and just for the smell I drag myself all the way to an Indian grocery shop to buy them 😛


        1. Oh…thats why I always feel, I should be able to smell, whats cooking in the cooking shows too…

          They show cilantro and tell into the camera – WOW, they smell heavenly. And I, sitting in my living room, thinking its so true…thanks for that update.

          But do those Indian supermarkets, have fresh stock of veggies ???


    2. WoW! you all seem to hold loads of sweet veggie shopping and bargaining memories 😀 😀
      I am huge fan of veggie markets and love the bright colors and the aroma of smelling through the freshest of herbs but BARGAIN isn’t a thing made for me.

      Never managed to do it till date 😦 😦

      Even my hubby is better than me on so many occasions, I know it’s odd but it’s the bitter truth.
      Need to take some quick tips from all you geniuses here 😀 😀 😀

      A fantastic post Uma 🙂


  4. I am very bad in bargaining, kind of like bins :), might end up paying more 🙂 I go to supermarkets for groceries as I can see and pick compared to other stores. For vegetables I don’t mind either. I have found some open shops to have fresher veggies. You are lucky to have super market right next to you 🙂


    1. LOL Lakshmi, u learn it – now that you are here…may be we can go shopping together… 😉 you see, I am always available for shopping…. 😉

      Yeah thats the thing – the small and open shops have more fresher things – so go for it, the bargaining I mean… 😉

      I know I am lucky – sometimes I take it for granted, thats the problem. When S is free, we go to the market to buy stuff, where I can bargain…he he he … 😉


  5. I can hardly bargain :(.. There are times when I prefer the local shops.. for the fresher looking produce and quick transactions as compared to malls.. and others when I want to finish off all shopping in one go and prefer going to a mall instead.


    1. You should’ve seen actual bargaining taking place, by mom or someone – to learn it and then practice it whenever you can…it needs to be developed… 😉

      Oh, my girls love the malls – they can’t stand it when I start bargaining – they feel embarrassed – they tell me to give the money he is asking.

      Now, slowly, they are learning…its like being a little bit more smarter than the vendor… 🙂 I took them to my fav Mylapore area and did shopping and bargaining….actually initiating them to the tradition. 😉


    1. Super market bug bit, huh ??? You are missing out on all the fun of bargaining…at least you can watch more ppl bargaining when you come to India, after your wedding. 😉


  6. I love the mandis, I love the noise, the bargaining and the fresh produce. Of course the free green chillis and coriander, the bargaining add the tadka to our lives. I feel that the supermarket produce is not as fresh as the mandis one


    1. Oh yeah, Ritu…the mandis are the best and its so fresh. 🙂

      I love that line – the free green chillis and coriander add tadka to our lives…oh, so true… 🙂


  7. I am HORRIBLE at bargaining. I think I should be out-casted from the shopping world 😦
    But yes, I do remember sabji mandis, these supermarkets have made life so much simpler!


    1. LOL !!! No need to outcast…you’ll learn soon… 😉 Come over, I’ll initiate you to all that. 😉

      Super markets are more simpler, but so lifeless…mandis are full of life, chatter, conversations, bargains…what not ???


  8. Its awesome feeling if you few extra stuff as a result of bargainig..however its not my cup of tea..too poor in that 😦
    However hd and FIL are good in that :-)In my house either of them buy weekly vegetable and other stuff from mandi
    I remember my mom asking for more free coraiander and chilli from sabji wala..


    1. Isn’t so, Rash…am glad u too think like that, even though you dont bargain much.

      Oh yeah, men too can bargain so well – am glad HD and FIL are good at bargaining !!! 🙂 Its a blessing if the men do the veggie shopping, every week… 😉

      LOL – all moms are the same, huh ???? 🙂


  9. I absolutely love the Open markets! Way more colourful, lively and so much to see, and buy! You don’t get that at malls at all! But I am awful at bargaining ! 😦 Yet malls too have the fun element in an a/c setting which is good too! Both have their own purpose and charm I’d say!


    1. Yeah, open markets are more fun and best for the ppl friendly ones like us… 🙂

      Really ??? So awful huh ???? LOL !!! 😛

      I prefer malls for an entirely different shopping experience – for veggies, its the open markets… 🙂


  10. I’m bad at bargaining. I feel weird doing it. The max i can do is bring down something at Rs 1000 to Rs 990 😀 At the same time, the husband would start bargaining for it from Rs 90!!! 😀 Which is why I always go shopping to such places with him. Else, am ok on my own 😀 😀


    1. OMG !!!! Your husband begins bargaining just like mine…LOL, when we were in Cal for holidays, I was amazed at the way S bargained with the hawkers…got some great stuff at such damn cheap price… 🙂

      LOL – you start at 990 !!! 😆 You are so sweet Priya… 🙂


  11. I am good at bargaining. I shop veggies and fruits from wherever it’s fresh.
    I prefer buying the leafy vegetables from the supermarkets, though as it is clean and dry.
    I love the shopping experience in both the open markets as well as the malls! 🙂


    1. Cool and contented with both… 🙂

      As u said, it depends on what I buy – some veggies are better at open markets, some at the supermarkets – better, some with the vendors on cycles in the early mornings…fresh from some farm. 🙂


  12. oh yes i do bargains is always welcome.. but i guess i have lost touch of it when in india, I am asked to shut my mouth and not utter a word when going shopping with others.. cause the moment I open my big mouth I am told they know he is foreigner and increase the price..
    But here janaury boxing day sales are all welcome and then we have CAR BOOT SALES on sundays and at kidderminster there is this huge one .. people fill there CAR boot with all sort of stuff to sell and sometimes its a bargain.. I got my two coffee tables solid oak and marble for 30 pounds.. in shops it wud be a at least a grand.. It was used though
    but you get new things too.. i do love going there make a day out of it..
    It is fun and its so exciting to see all these antiques and some of them are indian things..
    I once got a Picture of Maharaj Ranjit singh perfectly framed at the place



    1. LOL, they increase the price becos u are a foreigner !!!! 😉

      Those are fantastic bargains !!!! I think here too I see garage sale in the newspaper…but I doubt if ppl will buy here…


  13. LOL, I can never bargain. I tried so many times, but the vendor can easily identify that I am trying real hard to bargain !! 😀 😀 😀 My dad bargains like crazy; I used to feel embarassed going shopping with him during my childhood and he still does it ! 😀 😀

    I prefer going to a supermarket and getting stuffs on my own; I dont even like going to the kirana store and wait for the shop keeper to get me stuffs ! 😀


    1. LOL…I am just visualising how the vendor would have smirked at you, at your efforts to bargain !!! 😆 😉

      Once you do this bargaining and get something good at a lesser rate, you’ll never step into the supermarket – its so much fun. 🙂


  14. I personally suck at bargaining. I used to go with my mother to a local market and she would haggle for 2rs less per kilo and I would pull my hair and say its only 2 rs. So ignorant! Later I stopped arguing, I was just a “carrier”/”Coolie” and would keep my mouth shut. TIll date, I adore supermarkets. Go pick up your fruit, get your stuff and get out. Thats the norm in US anyways. However, I am realising, the open markets or farmers market (as termed in US) have fresher vegetables and better quality. So I still dont bargain, I send my husband and wait in the car till the shopping of “my” list is dnoe. I am pampered that way!


    1. LOL @ carrier / Coolie !!!! Me too started on that note…later learnt to be more experienced in talking… 🙂

      Yes, thats true…open markets have more fresher stock. But u shld be glad that hubby does all that…mine will not go veggie shopping without me…so, whats the point ??? 😉


  15. hey I loooooooooooove bargain and that too only on Mumbai’s Linking road and fashion street..you really have to be skilled enough to negotiate with folks out there..and yeah when I don;t have much time to spare I prefer visit to super market and go about my business 😉


  16. haha that was a nice trip down the memory lane! 🙂

    my grandfather was very good at bargaining… my earliest memories consist of going to the fish market with him as a kid!
    but my real trtryst with bargaining began after i set foot in delhi. i can haggle very efficiently…and bargain the pants off people…quite literally! 😀 😛

    but these days i stick to super market…. cant be bothered! lol


    1. Thanks Ash. 🙂

      How much we learnt by just accompanying the elders to the markets, na ?? 🙂 Its a great learning exp. 🙂 And quite helpful too, even today. 🙂

      I know…sometimes lack of time and energy…we just drop into the supermarkets. 😉


  17. My vote is for open markets. That freshness, I bet, you cannot get in those handpicked and sealed supermarket stuff I say! The carrots and beans are always fresh there! Totally agree on Curry leaves and coriander. We cannot BUY them!! I remember the trips with my MIL to Mylapore for picking up Maavadu. And bargaining always go hand-on-hand when we go to Ranganathan Street/Pondy Bazaar right?? For buying those trinket jewellery(10 rubaaiku 3), cheap sandals and handbangs! I am always good at bargaining. And I’ve always found it’s easy to bargain with men than with women, for they are sometimes rude and stubborn to reduce the price. So, everytime I bargain, I make sure to address the vendor by “Anna” or “thambi” or “Thatha”, and the rest follows :)))


    1. A woman after my heart…hugs to you. 🙂 Those maavadu bargains and shopping in Mylapore is an experience to feel and enjoy. Oh, I love Ranganathan street shopping tooo…I always say, you just stand at the entrance to that street – the crowd will automatically take you in and bring you out, with no effort from you…LOL…such crowd…even today its like that, may be become worse…. 🙂

      LOL @ ur thambi, thatha, anna….yeah, yeah, techniques on bargaining… 🙂


  18. I am a poor poor bargainer… I hate going to shops where they dont have fixed prices, invariably if in a bargaining shop a guy quotes 500 and I say give it in 400 and he agrees I still feel I should have said less… and I dont have the courage to demand a thing priced at 500 in 25o… so i prefer better to have fixed prices… that way i m atleast at peace… ! 😐

    My wife is a champ though and at times I m worried the sales man will hit her… i mean at times if someone says 500 she will say I will only give 2oo !!!!!!!!!! and I m like… for a minute I m not with her !!!!! gee… but its funny how many times she gets things very very cheap !!!! but seriously not my cup of tea this Bargaining thing !!!


    1. LOL Hitch…you cant bargain…I am surprised !!! I thought you were a champ in that… 😉

      Thats why she is the Better Half – she can do things better… 😉 We need to meet to discuss techniques on bargaining… 😉


  19. Not a great bargainer… but surely not the worst 😀 😀

    I don’t love bargaining… but just ask them if they relent as they won’t sell something for loss… asking one or two extra won’t affect them as they know the limit.. 🙂

    I never bought a vegetable at supermarket… I like to choose vegetables by myself 🙂


  20. As I told someone earlier today, we in the U.S. are going to have to learn this skillbecause it may be the only way, after the world economy collapses, to buy the important stuff we need. Not to be a pessimist but, our governments are proving their complete incompetence! So keep up the practice of bargaining.


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