Sunday, 1 December 2013

I give you good price

Marrakesh is playing havoc with my English reserve. We have been enticed into shops by a number of methods;
Come, look at my shop, Madame! Finest ├ępices from Berber lands...I give you good price!
Non merci
My shop is near here, out of the market so I pay no taxes. Much cheaper there! I give you good price!
Non merci (increasing exasperation)
Madame, madame! Welcome, you need the main square? I show you way...
No I prefer to be lost. Merci.
Hashish?
NON!
You need argan oil for your skin, good for your body, for massage? I give your boyfriend Moroccan viagra?
No, he's fine, he has no need of that.
Taxi?
Non merci!

Flying carpet, madame?
You get the idea. I have always fought shy of haggling, hassle and harassment from shop people; even doing rapid about turns in independent shops where the assistant looks a bit keen. So the souk are my worst nightmare.

There is something called Ensemble Artisanal which has a selection of all the goods you can find in the souks. However because the government directs the prices, you don't need to haggle but they are obviously set at a premium. The shop assistants in this collection of shops look rather depressed and do not offer interesting information about their goods. I suppose they think this is the least fun way of doing business? Is the haggling part of the entertainment value?

Still, back to the souk and the familiar feeling of exasperation as you want to look in these treasure chests of brightly coloured goodies but dare not show interest as you will be pounced upon.

As it happens, getting into haggling mode is quite easy. So here is my contrary guide to getting good price...

  • Be hormonal
  • Do not look too keen
  • Know exactly what you want and know roughly how much you want to pay
  • Do not let the person you are with interfere - if they show weakness, you are lost and as a woman, utterly stuffed. You will not get the price down if the salesman knows your partner is happy to pay
  • Depends what you are buying...we learned a shed load about herbs, spices, customs and interesting things from Abdel the Berber. Happy to drink his tea, learn stuff and then buy some tagine spices and eucalyptus crystals from him
  • However if the herb prices are non negotiable, make sure you get the quantity you request and if you only want a gram, ensure you only get a gram - not 20!

Of course this is all very well in theory. I've been fleeced a couple of quid for 4 pieces of coconut (sigh), I'm sure what I was shown and what I walked out of the shop with were two different things (bastard lip balm) and if one more person wants paying for getting us lost, they are going to get a thump.

Anyway, I've bought more stuff this holiday than I ever have and for goodness sake, please don't let the Other Contrary one loose here; the brightly painted crockery, the colourful throws, the carved wooden things, the kaftans - I swear we'd need a bigger flat.

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