Michael P

b’deshi bargaining and paan
November 3, 2008, 12:02 am
Filed under: culture, shopping | Tags: , , , ,

Some students were going to the tongi bazaar to get some shoes today after lunch.  I haven’t gotten many oppurtunities to go out to markets with students so i decided to tag along.  They thought i’d need to take the pedestrian bridge across the freeway, but i showed the (by leading) that i’ve learned how to effectively cross a busy freeway in bangladesh without getting hit.

When we got to the market, it was a good chance for me to ask questions about all the stuff that i’ve been seeing.  One interesting thing that they sell in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh is this stuff called Paan.  It’s preparation of various things that can be eaten/chewed as an after dinner breath freshener, but mostly its something that people get addicted to and continue to chew, even after their teeth fall out.  I unknowingly tried this after dinner one night and was disgusted.  It was super bitter.  I just swallowed the whole thing because i had no idea what else to do with it.  The idea is that you get a betel leaf and fill it with some shredded areca nut and some caustic lime powder.  Sometimes people put a little bit of tobacco also.  It’s pretty gross and you see people spitting the red juice all over the place. Tonight, there are some guests from Australia and they were offered paan as an after dinner breath freshener at the indian restaurant we were at.  I kept telling them they should try and it and after about 5 chews the all spit it out in disgust.  Here’s a picture of a guy that sells it at the tongi market.

When we finally found a place that sandals i asked the students what the bangla word for shoe was.  They hesitated for a while and said “sandal.”  Then Khokon found the shoes he wanted.  the guy wanted 590 taka.  That seemed fair to me.  they looked like nice black faux leather sandals.  but it was too much for him.  As i’ve said earlier, Bangladeshis can be really touchy within their own gender.  To convince khokon to get the sandals the guy was grabbing his arm, massaging his shoulder, and just overall sweet talking him into not leaving and buying them from the next guy.  It was interesting to watch.  they never treat me this way.  I would have said 400 taka and gotten them for 450.  But finally the guy agreed to 150 taka.  yes, from 590 all the way to 150.  Khokon left a happy man.


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