Buying and fetching vegetables from the bazaar is my regular Sunday chore. It ensures that there would be no dearth of vegetables in the pantry during the week ahead. It’s an inescapable requirement.

At the market, it’s invariably fascinating to watch the heaps of fresh vegetables, especially the seasonal ones. The place is always crowded on holidays. The farm produce and also the farmers who are there selling vegetables represent a pleasant sight. It provides a special feel of nature’s bounty and gifts.

A question always crosses my mind: why do we invariably indulge in bargaining over prices here? Is it a mark of authority, or self-proclaimed supremacy, or smartness? Sadly, it is often the reverse. What does one gain by bargaining for a paltry sum? Tomatoes are sold for as little as Rs. 5 a kg during season, and at times Rs. 5 will fetch 2 kg. Even then it is interesting to note that there is bargaining going on for a better price.

Do we stand to lose a fortune in the deal? In these days of high inflation, a rupee or two is not sufficient to pay even for parking a two-wheeler, leave alone a cup of tea.

On the other hand, do we gain something by not bargaining? There is a greater chance of being respected and held in high regard. Above all, the seller’s conscience will prick, wondering if he had not hiked the price unreasonably. A little bit of understanding could do a world of good.

Vegetables are perishable goods that have to be disposed of at the earliest; else they could rot, rendering them unusable. Can’t the seller be given that little bit of concession as he takes the risks associated with the trade?

A whole new relationship could emerge between the buyer and seller during frequent visits to the market. Exchanging some pleasantries could bring a smile, which again has become a rarity in this fast-paced world. Sundays can do with some with fun and a bit of cheer, making the world a better place. Smile, and it comes back to you in abundance. Give respect, and it comes back to you as well. Such small gestures make lives better.

What is lost in the bargain? Goodness is replaced with a bit of sourness. The seller may have an uncanny knack to inflate the price of a given produce by a couple of rupees as he is already familiar with the buyer’s ways. The reduction in price achieved after bargaining gives an artificial sense of satisfaction to the buyer, but in reality it is not true satisfaction. Bargaining for a reduction in price that may not be of much benefit, will in reality sow seeds of greed in your mind. This will pollute it.

Even if the buyer loses a few rupees, he will be the real gainer as goodwill and cheer are spread through his actions, words and deeds.

Do we ever realise the fact that we pay a heavy price by being under the illusion that we are smart — which in fact we may not be?

balasubramaniampavani@yahoo.com

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