Ages ago, mid way through our Rajastan tour.
Walking through the market street yesterday we were hoovered up by a young chap to come look at a couple of embroidery pieces. We'd come to love Jaiselmer, the heat, dust & moderate hassle didn't detract from the glory of the fort, the desert & the wonder of where we were & what we were doing. We were happy drifting along.
We had thought we might like to buy a wall hanging, well, sort of thought about it but not made a firm decision. Within seconds (you may know what comes next) we were in-store, seated, cup of chai ordered & virtually cut off from the street entrance by a mound of wall hangings & fabrics that we were supposed to appraise in a split second before the next & more beautiful(expensive) one was unfurled with a flourish.
The store owner, Jaki, had perfect English & all the lines but more than that was a really engaging host & I think that as we became more & more interested (& he became more sure of a sale) he relaxed & we ended up chatting about all sorts, politics, climate change, arranged marriage etc etc. He also introduced us to the very elegant, very retired Brahmin chap reclining against the opposite wall. Forgotten his name but despite the lack of teeth he was very cool.
Surprisingly, after fixating on half a dozen very, very beautiful wall hangings made by sewing together the bridal shawls of Rajastani villagers with thread from the neck of a baby camel… or something (the phrase "cigars rolled between the thighs of Cuban virgins" comes to mind) we managed to escape purchase-less.
But we couldn't get the idea of the wall hangings out of our minds (what was in the chai??) & towards the end of the day we went back. Jaki wasn't there but arrived a few minutes later as everybody has mobile phones a pair of punters in shop & ready to talk trumps dinner, family time, Neighbours, whatever.
Cutting to the chase in no-nonsense, seen-it-all-before, you-won't-believe-how-ruthlessly-we-bargain kind of way we asked to see the 4 main contenders again. So Jaki knew he had a sale right there duh! We soon fixated on a piece that as C says "just makes you happy looking at it". I don't have a picture but it's about 2m by 1.5m, a riot of purple, dark red, green & little sparkly bits & mirrors. Here's some pix of the ones we didn't buy.
As you may have deduced we only managed to shave 10 or 15% off the asking price, which was substantial, but you know what, it really doesn't matter. It's a truly beautiful piece – to us at least - & we can't wait to install it on the wall above our bed when we get home. It'll be fun to see if it still makes us chuckle in a few months time when we walk into the room.
Formalities over Jaki invited us to stay for a beer or two in his airless, claustrophobic basement. Of course we said yes & had a riotous night drinking "Bullet Beer" (not less than 8% it says on the label) & comparing the meaning of life from our very different angles. Every few minutes he'd send his shop boy out on the aging scooter to get more Bullet. When I mentioned it was past 10pm & the bottle shops all close at 8 he said "hey, everything's available if you know where to look! Very funny, no dinner, very hungover.
The next day we met his wife, who was one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen, but that's another post..