Monday, November 24, 2008
This past weekend I took a colleague to Panjiayuan, the antique flea market.
He wanted to get some souvenirs for friends back home. As temperatures are dropping, vendors in this outdoor market try to keep warm by entertaining almost every offer, including outrageous ones.
We came across an antique-looking Chinese brush that was more decorative than practical, with the carving of a dragon wrapped around the body.
The older woman with a weathered face said 350RMB ($51.27).
We threw out an offer of 50RMB ($7.34) and she was annoyed and asked us to raise the price again, but we wouldn't budge.
She repeated her request, but when we raised our offer by 20RMB to 70RMB, she felt we weren't bargaining in good spirit, so we walked away to look at other vendors' things.
We could hear her voice beckoning us again and she tapped me on the shoulder.
She asked us to name a price again, but I repeated the last offer. She chastised us and went back to her seat.
Soon afterwards we heard her come again.... and then finally the last time she found us again to say she agreed.
We went back to her spot and then she threw us another offer -- two brushes for 150RMB ($22).
It was a done deal.
We later came across this giant wooden statue who looked to me like a Chinese Moses.
He looked so happy with his rounded cheeks and smile, looking as if ready to embrace us from our worries.
With the economic crisis unfolding around the world, we're all going to need a cheery guy like him to keep us on the even keel in these turbulent times.