Bargaining or Barring Gain?

June 1, 2010 Off By Miss Cellany

Dear Diary,

I worked hard, and demanded a pay raise. I was told to work my ass off for another couple of months and I could then have a Volkswagen Polo. I wanted a pay rise, they wanted work. I negotiated. Not entirely what I wanted, but what the hell. A Volkswagen is after all a Volkswagen. Plus a chauffeur. Could I ask for more? For now, not yet.

Soon, I found out that Dad had bought the brother a Nokia 6790 (as soon as it was launched, mind you!) as a “belated birthday gift.” The dorky bro probably earned what it costs in a day or two. Yet, when it was time for my “early birthday gift”, I had to negotiate. All to watch Dad present me a Nokia phone himself.

In fact, everyday the bargaining builds its pace with vigour – starting with the auto wallah who says “paanch rupayi mein kya hai madam!”, the sabzi waali’s declaration that eventually sets the menu of the week, “Sirf aalo aur tamatar hai!” And deal with the agony kaam waali’s “O Memsaab! Kal hum nahi ayenga!” will bring.

Hell, I even bargained with the cook last evening. She wanted to make Aalo ka Paratha (butter spread) with Malai Kurma & hot yogurt. I wanted Aalo ka Paratha (butter spread) with Bagara Baingan & hot yogurt. And so I orchestrated my talent at the celebrated art of bargaining with a lovely lady I pay to cook me food that I would eat in my own house. A lady who, by the way, also had an equal panache at the skill they call bargaining. By the end of it, I was having Dum ki Biryani with Mirchi Ka Salan. It was either her way, my way, or neither of ours – but no common ground.

Chewing the food though, it was at a moment like this that I couldn’t fail to remember Ankit’s famous unbelievable-in-21st-century quote, “If I don’t bargain, I feel cheated.” “What about places where you can’t bargain? Like the hypermarket we’re at the moment, for example?” I asked him out of intense curiosity once. “Well, I bargain wherever & at every possible opportunity I can.” he replied. “I can’t do that.” I thought. “You quote a price. I pay. End of mess. No beginning of it.” I had decided a long time ago. Or so I thought.

At a closer look though, that’s exactly what life taught me. That I had to bargain at every possible opportunity I could. You see, I had to fight for what I wanted, and in the process I had to compromise to certain demands made on me. What the heck, I even had to compromise on my laziness & run back and forth into the kitchen to feed my growling tummy ever so often. To survive, I had to bargain.

So! I learnt today that life enjoys & prefers the give-and-take relationship. It is all but a business. A wonderful one at that. The stakes maybe high, the stakes maybe low – depending upon one’s interest & (eventually) desperation. Life, my friend, is a negotiation.

PS: Further inference shall be drawn after further experimentation. Err.. I mean observation.

For now, signing off.

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