Annapurna Circuit — Day 12

Streets of Marpha

It takes forever to get out of Marpha. Min stops at each store, at each guest house, and speaks to the owner. He buys several kilos of apples – two shopping bags full. I ask him why he’s bought so many apples and he tells me to take to his family. “In Pokhara?” I ask. “That’s five days away.” I’m imagining poor, bruised apples.

As he’s in one guest house, I strike up a conversation with a woman in the street. She asks me where I’m from. She then asks me how old I am. I tell her. We’re the same age. She laughs at this. She has four children and lives in a Tibetan refugee camp not far from the village. She invites me into her shop. I don’t really want to shop, but I have nothing else to do. Min is no where in sight. I look at the necklaces, the bracelets, the rings, the bags. I see some necklaces that are pretty. She assures me they are pure jade, pure lapis lazuli. I know they are not, but they are still pretty. We begin the bargaining process.

In India a friend and I were discussing bargaining. I mentioned that I don’t like haggling, that I feel bad trying to lower the price. She said that a seller won’t agree to a price if it’s not beneficial for him. She then related this to me: At the end of the deal, if the seller shakes your hand and smiles, you’ve paid way too much. If the seller shakes your hand but doesn’t smile, you’ve paid slightly too much. If the seller frowns, you’ve paid the right price.

After I pay, the women smiles widely and invites me back to her shop the next time I come to Nepal. Damn.

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