The New Year’s rule of thumb “Out with the Old, In with the New” was all my friends and I needed to justify our exploration of multiple Mumbai markets this past week. What was supposed to be a day of relaxing shopping to aid in recovery from a weekend full of celebrations to ensure 2011 was ushered in properly left me utterly exhausted… and very amused as well. Here are my five pieces of advice to survive Mumbai Market Madness this weekend:
1. Load up on lots of caffeine. If your resolution was to give up coffee for New Years, I suggest you break it and indulge in an ultra strong brew. Between walking aimlessly through packed allies, lugging around your purchases and calculating currency conversion in your head, you will really appreciate the extra pep in your step. If the aroma of freshly ground Sumatra is seeping out of your pores, you are ready to move onto the next step.
2. Put on your comfiest pair of closed toed shoes. This will not only save your perfectly polished pedicure from chipping, but from the stomach turning spitting habit of many market dwellers landing on your foot. Did I forget to mention there is also the occasional mouse, flea infested dog, trash pile and a few other germy items I refuse to type that you may also really want to avoid? Okay, we are now ready to walk out the door.
3. Just kidding. Turn around and grab your antibacterial gel to put in your purse. I would suggest it contains aloe or Vitamin E to avoid the transformation of smooth hands into alligator skin with the number of times you will slather this on after a day in the markets.
4. Let the bargaining begin! Whatever you do, do not lose your cool. If the vendor is not budging on the price of those shimmering bangles, there are 20 other stalls within 1 km that have the same bangles and some with even more shimmer. If all the other vendors will not give it to you the price you want, then chances are you are just downright cheap. I wouldn’t sell you a pack of bangles for Rs. 10 either.
5. Celebrate your spectacular finds and refined bargaining skills while sorting out your bits and bobbles over a fresh lime soda. You are bound to miss this refreshment as much as markets when you return home. I prefer mine sweet and salty with the occasional splash or two of vodka just in case you were wondering.