I realise it is a year since my last post. A dismal year without travelling. Here is a very old piece that may bring back some memories of your own. Happy Christmas and here's hoping for a very much better 2022.
You are too canny to be caught by the carpet salesman. But are you?
Experienced traveller? You have met the carpet sellers, the scent salesmen. “Just come and look in my shop, no need to buy.” You are too experienced to fall for it. But it’s part of the holiday, just sip the tea, chat, look at the merchandise. You won’t buy.
Trouble is they are really good at what they do. So what happens between your knowing entry into the shop and the excess baggage charge? It’s the ancient art of persuasion. He asks you questions. He wants to know how long you have been in his country — code for “How much have you spent already?” He watches and listens. He is working out how much you will spend, even if you still think it is nothing.
He gives you tea. Up until now he has hardly drawn your attention to the merchandise but he has been watching to see where your eye has lingered.
The offer of tea is important. He has given you something. You want to give him something in return, and you surely will.
Now he shows you his first product. It will be nearly the most expensive. There is no indecorous mention of the price. He just asks you to admire the quality. You show appreciation? You are a person of taste. He will show you something even better.
He senses the fear as you estimate this new thing is too expensive. He works slowly down to the price range that will suit the cheapskate you have revealed yourself to be. The smile and patter never falter.
You take an interest in something; fatal. He will not let you take your hand off the object. It is out of its wrapper, you are holding it. It is yours.
“How much?” Music to his ears. It was you that brought up the subject of money. He is above such things but if needs must …
You haggle but end up paying almost exactly the price he had always wanted. “You will love it,” he says, “in your elegant home”. He is reinforcing your decision to buy. He offers more tea.
You have been the willing victim of the art of persuasion.