Movable Type 2.661
September 05, 2004
September 5: Multi-cultural Bargaining in Allapouzha
The travel guide books warned that Allapouzha in of itself was not a particularly pretty town -- and they're right. We got into town after dark on the 4th, and picked a hotel to stay at called the Gowdri -- largely because their emissaries were standing at the boat landing with offers of driving us and our baggage to their hotel. The hotel was clean and quite pretty -- though it would have been mroe so if the lovely plants in the garden were spaced out by, say, grass, instead of dirt. The people who worked there, however, were fantastically friendly, staying up late to teach us how to play a game something between air hockey and billiards.
But by the next day we were ready to leave. It's off-season in Kerala, so we figured we had a good shot at getting a houseboat at a reasonable price. Peggy, Dora, Jan, and I, walked into a tourist information center and were offered an overnight, two-room boat for -- after some haggling -- 9000 rupees (about $200). We said we'd let them know.
We walked out of the store and were instantly picked up by a guy promising us a boat at a better price. 4500 rupees for a two-room boat. We asked for a bigger boat, and he convinced us to get into two rickshaws and come see his boat. Despite some misgivings about leaving the main center of town, we all piled in. Dora, a petite Chinese fellow, turned to us as our rickshaw rolled down a four-foot wide dirt road and said: "This is definitely not something I would do if I was alone." I had to agree.
The houseboat we were shown was beautiful. Three bedrooms plus some extra room to sleep outside (there were 11 of us) with the nicest bathrooms we'd had at any hotel so far. We sat down around the dining table on deck to talk. His opening bid was 9000. Since he'd offered us a two-bedroom for 4500 back in town, I told him that doubling the price for one extra room was unreasonable. This was about the last semi-nice thing anyone said to him -- which led to his addressing all comments to me, despite the barrage of barganing he was getting elsewhere. It was a glorious multicultural haggling event. He, in typical Indian style, always wrote out his counter offers on a piece of paper. I smiled and tried to make everyone just get along. Peggy and Jan sat with German cool, arms crossed across their chests. Dora simply sat quietly and watched.
Peggy did most of the takling. This was far too much for an extra room, she was willing to pay extra for food, but not that much, etc. Finally she told the man that we'd already gotten an offer in town and while this boat was clearly nicer, we'd just take that if he didn't match the price.
"What price did they give you?"
She hesitated only a moment. "7000." She said later that she even surprised herself. I could tell that she almost started to laugh. The guy looked apalled and said that for 11 people it was impossible.
And that's when Dora started. Dora jumped in in full force. Trust me, you never want that girl angry at you. "Look! Do you want ust to give you the money or not?? We're going to just walk away and take the other boat! it's your choice. Do you want the money?"
He accepted the offer.Posted by karenceliafox at September 5, 2004 05:36 PM