Sunday, October 9, 2011

For Everything Else…There’s Rupees!

This is part 4 of a 4 part posting, modeled after the popular Mastercard Priceless commercials. 

So I got a little ripped off in Delhi. I knew it was happening but this is one of those moments where you find that one thing that you just have to have. That thing you’ve never seen before. But let me back up and start at the beginning. 

Hubby and I were killing time, looking around and just trying to relax after a bad day at the embassy. We had done some shopping and the driver asked us if he could take us to the rip off markets to get his commission. I was all for it. I like to do something nice, especially when I’m feeling bad. Being nice, saying nice things makes me feel better. So I jumped at the chance to do something selfless. So off we went. 

We got to this little hole in the wall place on the back roads of Delhi and I went in, a little excited because I have fun walking out of these places when they get ridiculous. We barely made it in the door when a salesman verbally drags us over to his jewelry counter to show us his “sterling silver” animals and jewelry with “precious gemstones.” To look real I asked to see the elephant and the first thing I noticed was it wasn’t even close to being real silver. At best it was stainless steel, and it was really well polished so I’m not even sure that’s what it was. I’ve never seen stainless steel or silver shine so bright. Silver just isn’t that kind of fluorescent metal. 

In true rip off market fashion there was only an item number on the piece and hubby asked him if that meant it only cost 500 INR. The guy laughed and said how can we expect to get so much stones and silver for so little money. Then he tapped away on the calculator and come back with “27,000 INR” and I walked off. Keep in mind this elephant was barely 2 inches tall and 3 inches wide. The stones were at best costume jewelry quality and none of them were known gemstones (meaning there was no sapphire, rubies, topaz, amethyst, etc.). 

I went into the back of the store and noticed they had some handicrafts which I like. Some of which I own and I wanted to compare the prices. They had a marble elephant similar to one I picked up at the Taj Mahal and not as pretty. I paid too much at the Taj Mahal by giving 3500 INR for a 6 inch marble elephant but I really wanted it. This lower quality one was 3000. So I figure the guy in the back wasn’t going to rip us off as bad as the guy in the front. Still, I wasn’t really interested in anything. But I kept looking to see what was there. 

Then I saw it. Bleh…why do I have to like things and have this bad shopping habit. Oh well. I asked to see it and asked for a price. Now, he didn’t need a calculator and he told me the price. I knew it was high and bad but I have been all over these markets (including the State Emporia Complex and local street bazaars here) and never seen anything like it. It fascinated me and intrigued me. It was a stone elephant but the stone was purple with glitter detail throughout, like the glitter was part of the stone. Now he told me what kind of stone it was but I couldn’t understand him even after I made him repeat it a few times. I didn’t care. I bought that dang elephant and I don’t regret it lol. I keep looking for more so I know how bad I got ripped off but haven’t seen anything else like it.


  1. Thank you! I love it. I just wonder how with all my trips around to so many stores in my life how I've never seen it lol. Maybe it's a fairly new discovery. Oh well. I have it now!

  2. I just googled Aventurine to know more about it :) it is indeed a type of quartz with sparkly inculsion, probably a more percious type of quartz than the whitish pink ones you tend to find all over the Alps in Europe...pretty!

  3. I'm gonna get one now...let's hope I can capture his sparkle.

  4. It's aventurine..the stone. I'm going to get you guys a picture now and will post it up shortly. I just gotta figure out how to make it sparkle in the picture.

    I used to convert everything to USD but I didn't buy much because I didn't need anything. It helped me figure out how to make a budget here. Now that I've been out so much I see how easy it is to find things even cheaper. Sometimes I still convert just to get an idea of what the real value is and if I'm being ripped off because I was really good at saving money in the US. I'm so freaking cheap when it comes to spending anyway and in the US I wouldn't pay over $15 for brand new designer clothing pieces so here when I see them and they want more, it keeps me from buying. (I'm always backwards lol...but hey, it works.)

  5. I'm guessing they do. I work but I don't make the salary of your friend. I also let hubby pick up a lot of my things while I stand just out of sight of the salesmen or I frequent stores where the price tag is there before the salesman shows up. I try really hard not to buy a bunch of stuff but I think I'm a shopping addict lol. Plus I'm somewhat stubborn. It's a hard combination for me to wrestle with hahaha.

  6. I had some working expats friend living in Bangalore for a while, they were pretty much like your Israeli friend, converting things in Euro, and finding everything cheap and no big deal spending a bit more on something.
    As a firangi wife married to an Indian and living on a desi salary I just hate being ripped off, and avoid these touristy markets :) inevitably I'll find something of better quality and at a cheaper price in a department store, arguing on no end to get a decent price also annoys me :)

    White Bhabi, I too want a picture of the elephant :) I want to see what it looks like, sound to me like the stone in question might have been a type of quartz, they range from white to purple and they have glitter bits inlet int he stone.

  7. oohhh! I want to see a picture of this elephant! Sounds gorgeous! send me one! LOL!

  8. One fine day, me and my israeli colleague(the huge white firangi) went roaming in collaba, mumbai. The colleague spotted this novelty item being sold a few meters away. Him being familiar with indian bazars thus asks me to go alone and do some price checking. I get quoted 150. Thirty min later, my colleague went alone and got quoted at 600.

    Still, my friend is unfamiliar about pricing. He sometimes spends 5x times the regular price on stuff and doesn't know about it because it's still very cheap compared to his country back home.

    One particular area he loves is street food. An average visit to the local pani puri guy can yield a 200 rupee bill. Same thing with idli's, masala dosas, vada pavs and bhajji's. He drinks 2-3 coconuts at a time. Drives all around mumbai looking for olive oil. His salary(which is average in israel) converts to a few lakh indian rupees and he spends it like a king here because it's not a significant amt back in israel.

    Mumbai is so cheap for him that he has planned to shift his wife and kids here. He's currently looking for international schools in the area for his kids admission.

    So it seems that firangi housewives and working expats live two different lifestyles in india.