How To Be An Indian Shop Keeper (Iain)

Open shop and wait for a foreigner to pass by. Engage them in conversation

Say “Hello”

You will probably be ignored. Don’t let this out you off.

Say “Hello, my friend”

You might get a look back. Press ahead with a question.

Ask “Where are you from?”

If they answer your onto a winner. Reel them in!

Say “I love <wherever you’re from>”

Tell them about a random friend/relative who’s been there.

Ask “How long you been in Kolkata?”

They are now susceptible to your charm. Time to make money.

State “You must come to my shop!”

Demand “I want you to see my shop!”

Say nicely “Not to buy. Just to see”

Add “It’ll make me so happy if you just see my shop”

Once they get in your shop lead them upstairs so it’s harder for them to get away. Offer them tea. They are more likely to buy if you keep them there for a while

I realised all this as I sat upstairs in a shop trying to work out how to leave! It was tricky as there were two men. One doing the selling and one confidently blocking the stairs. The one doing the selling wanted to sell us a very expensive statue of Ganesh the elephant god. Nic said she’d buy one but only if it was tiny and cheap.

He showed us a small wooden Ganesh. “A great piece. Perfect for the home. It’ll make you money so it’ll easily pay for itself – you can’t lose!” he claimed.

Then the top of Ganesh’s head fell off.

Quick as a flash, the man said, “that is a feature. You can use it to put an umbrella on him!”

“It’s broken!”

“No he’s now an umbrella holder. Very useful feature.”

“It’s broken. Show me another one.”

He gets another. The top doesn’t fall off.

I ask why this one doesn’t have the umbrella feature.

“It does. You just have to pull his head hard.”

“You mean break it?”

His friend says “yes”.

I admired the friend’s entrepreneurial spirit but both of them realized they’d been rumbled at that point!