Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scars and Souveniers

I've mastered the art of dodging the bullet! literally but from the over-eager, over enthusiastic kiosk employees who are constantly in your face, trying to sell you something, be it a hair extension (seriously!), a nail set to make your nails all shiny without applying nail polish, wind chime thingies, aromatherapy packs, pro-activ, crystal souvenirs for every relative you could dream of while the above mentioned over eager, over enthusiastic salesperson badgers you into submission. And if you are the kind who finds it hard to say 'No thanks', then good luck. Don't forget, these kiosk/cart stores have no return policy either.

I remember a particular incident in a Houston Mall when three of us were walking down the mall and this Seacret Sea salesgirl pops, almost out of nowhere and practically took our hands and started polishing one nail each. Thank God for small mercies that I had painted my nails so she let me get away! The remaining two, were not spared, they emerged with shiny nails (one of them male!) and were badgered into buying 100$ worth of nail products and some other stuff all allegedly made with ingredients from the dead sea!

Our local Southcenter Mall has an umpteen number of kiosks/carts and has fallen prey to the cart culture. Nothing against this culture and considering that I come from a country where the cart culture business thrives. In fact it's just possible that you find some unique item you were looking for, from halfway across the world. It is the harassment and badgering that I condone, Isn't the retail tagline 'Customer is king', they will come to you, wait for it!

Dodging the bullet is nevertheless easy, my strategy is to ignore the kiosks completely, no eye contact and I even act as if I am deaf and blind too, it may be rude, but it works.

I was in Southcenter yesterday and noticed this cart with beautiful wood carvings of nativity scenes, rosary hands, last supper scenes all intricately and exquisitely carved. The owner seemed to be of Middle Eastern descent, Israelite possibly or could be Egyptian too. He explained that the statues were all hand carved out of Olive wood from Bethlehem and considering my interest in the Nativity scenes offered a 10% discount while querying if I was buying it as a gift!

I told him I wanted to buy it for myself at which he acted pleasantly surprised and seemed almost to be searching for a telltale sign that I was a Christian and no, I was not wearing my little cross pendant. He asked if I was from India and on my affirmative answer, said he did not know Christians lived in India!

My being a Christian from India surprises many, from the Ethiopian cab driver, my Russian neighbor, the midwest programmer who even asked me if it was tough being a Christian in India to the Vietnamese parishioner and the Middle Eastern kiosk owner. I told him there are 20 million Christians in India with an evil smile to the almost shocked look on his face and then told him that we make up 2% of the population, it seemed to make him happy!

I believed the hand-carved bit but was doubtful about the Olive wood from Bethlehem part, anyway I decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and ended up with a carved set of a nativity scene. The discount was nullified by the 9% sales tax! Nevertheless a pretty nativity set to start the advent season.

1 comment:

Bini said...

Beautiful! The nativity seen has been my favorite, the second one being 'The Last Supper'...