I’ve experienced shopping on four different continents, but nothing is quite like the experience of shopping in India. Bargaining is much like I’ve found elsewhere, but vendors use many strategies to get you to buy their goods. Most of all, they are persistent. It’s hard to shake them off, as evidenced by the shrinking space in the luggage compartment at the rear of our tour bus. I’m holding off until I get to Nepal so I don’t have to carry much, but sometimes it’s hard to resist.
Unless you are very firm in saying no, a vendor will stalk you throughout your visit to a tourist attraction. Luckily, they are prohibited from certain areas, but they will be waiting for you when you exit. Once you make eye contact, you’re doomed. Our guide said that they will even follow you from one attraction to the next in order to make a sale.
Our group has decided that one of our favorite ways to shop is directly from the air-conditioned bus. Each time throughout the day we return to the bus (and sometimes in the morning before we leave), vendors will be waiting outside for one last sale. They know not to come onto the bus, so they hand their souvenirs to our guide who holds them up for us and names the price. The items get passed around the bus, our wallets get lighter and our bags get fuller.
Photo opportunities are everywhere, but be prepared to pay. Who could resist taking some shots of a snake charmer (which seem to be around every corner)? You can snap away and even take a photo with the snake as long as you hand over a few rupees.
I’ve been reminded of my days in South America where small change can be hard to come by. It’s a good idea to have a stash of small bills and coins (100 rupees or less) handy for tipping and buying small items, otherwise you may wait a while for the change.