I love shopping, part 4

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Woodstock flutes1

There is a lady in Woodstock who has so many little, little crafts in her store. She also sells super-excellent flutes. After trying out two flutes, I told her the one I liked. Then she said, “I have a special surprise for you. It is a gift.” She told me that Tanima had given her money to get a flute for me, and she had kept it aside. After I played on Tanima’s flute, I saw that it was the best.

Anupadi had also gotten me a gift from that store. So I wanted to give the lady some money so that Tanima and Anupadi could get gifts for themselves the next time they came in.

I trusted the lady, but she insisted on giving me a receipt.

LS 136. 11 December 1986

Saral's brother2

Yesterday I went to a store in Santiago, Chile, and bought an umbrella. The man in the store talked and looked so much like Saral that I couldn’t believe it. He was showing me such devotion — just like Saral. He was one hundred per cent Saral’s brother!

LS 137. 23 December 1986

Tanima's jacket3

Yesterday I was shopping in Valdivia, Chile. I was looking at a jacket in a store window when all of a sudden Tanima’s soul came to me and said, “Pretty!”

I asked her soul, “Is it the right size?”

The soul didn’t know. So I went inside the store and saw the price was 5,500. I always bargain; it is an Indian tradition. But how could I bargain, since I didn’t speak Spanish? So I wrote down 5,500 on a piece of paper, then crossed out the first 5 and wrote in 4. So it went on. The owner smiled at me and I smiled at her. Finally I bought the jacket.

LS 138. 2 January 1987

The broken wristwatch4

I found a store in Valdivia that had a very peculiar and funny wristwatch. I said, “I will buy it for Vidhu.”

But the wristwatch did not work. I knew that I could ask Dhanu to fix it, but the man did not want to sell me a broken wristwatch.

LS 139. 2 January 1987

The yogurt lover5

It takes such a long time to buy things in Chile because you have to write down what you want. I went into a restaurant to buy 100 cups of yogurt, but they thought I wanted only 20 cups.

I tried to show them that I wanted five times 20, but they thought I wanted just five.

Finally I took out the 18 or 19 yogurts that were there and then asked for more. Then at last they understood.

LS 140. 3 January 1987

The soundless flute6

I went into a music store in Lima to buy a flute. I was trying a particular flute, but I could not make any sound.

Then the saleslady said she would show me how to play it. She was so happy and proud to show me, but she could not make any sound either.

LS 141. 7 January 1987

Lost in Lima7

I was told by a disciple that there is a particular street in Lima that sells lots of musical instruments. So Agraha, Savyasachi and I went looking for it. When we came to a one-way street, Agraha and I got out of the car, and I told Savyasachi to drive around and meet us from the other direction.

After walking a few blocks, Agraha asked someone in Spanish if there were some music stores on that side of the block. The person said it was on the other side of the block and in the other direction — on Emancipation Street.

I decided to walk three or four blocks in that direction while Agraha continued looking in the original direction. After six or eight blocks my legs were hurting, so I turned around and started coming back.

After going several blocks, something within me instigated me to look across the street at a pastry shop, even though I had no inclination to eat. As soon as I looked, I saw Emancipation Street. It was only half a block away from where I had started 15 or 20 minutes before!

But there were no instrument stores there. I wanted to go back to the hotel, but no taxi would stop for me. Finally, when one did stop and ask me where I wanted to go, I didn’t know the name of our hotel. I said, “Miramar,” but the driver said there was no such hotel. I told him I would give him directions, but he didn’t trust me. So he wouldn’t take me.

Suddenly I saw Agraha and Savyasachi, so I was saved.

When you are lost, each minute is torture. How many taxis passed by without stopping! And when one did stop, I couldn’t tell the driver the destination.

LS 142. 7 January 1987

Language problems8

I went into one store just as it was about to close. I was pointing to what I wanted to buy, but I could not speak Spanish and the shopkeeper could not understand me. Such an expensive thing I would have bought, but she could not help me. What could I do?

LS 143. 8 January 1987

Savyasachi's compassion9

I was at the Indian market in Lima for such a long time. The shopkeepers would say one price and I would say another.

Savyasachi has more compassion than I do. I wanted to buy something, but I could not get the price I wanted. So I went away without buying it. But Savyasachi thought I liked it, so he went back and got it for me.

LS 144. 13 January 1987

Flattery pays off10

In another store I wanted to buy a pillow case. The lady said 65 and I said 40.

Then I flattered her and said, “You speak such good English!”

The lady was so happy that she gave me the pillow case for 40.

LS 145. 13 January 1987

So nice!11

In one store Saraswati and I looked around but didn’t buy anything. Then we went out.

After we had walked about a block, the owner of the store came running after us to tell us that there was another place that might have what we wanted. She was so nice!

LS 146. 13 January 1987

The llamas with beautiful eyes12

In one store they had toy llamas with such beautiful eyes. The two small ones had such compassion. I looked at them and meditated and meditated. Then I felt sorry for the llamas, so I bought six.

LS 147. 13 January 1987

Buying gifts13

Since Mahasamrat has a connection with Peru, I got him a huge jacket. From small they went to large; medium sizes they didn’t have.

I also got a nice sweater for myself. The price was 350. I liked it and didn’t want to waste time bargaining. So I said 300 and just took it.

I bought so many presents for people who didn’t come on the trip.

LS 148. 13 January 1987

The coffee shop14

It seems that everywhere I go, people recognise me. Today I went into Manhattan with Vinaya to buy some saris. Garima was also with us. At one point we went into a coffee shop, and I asked Garima to get me a grilled cheese and a piece of pizza.

The restaurant was worse than the worst, darker than the darkest. We only stopped there because I was so hungry. The first floor was very narrow and seated only three or four persons, so I went upstairs to see if there were any empty seats.

Two young girls were eating there. As soon as they saw me, one of them said, “Sri Chinmoy is here.”

The other girl said, “Oh, Sri Chinmoy wouldn’t come here!”

I smiled at the one who recognised me.

The grilled cheese Garima got was very bad, and the pizza she didn’t buy because she didn’t understand my English. So we went across the street to an Indian restaurant, Delhi Palace. They were so fast. It didn’t take them ten minutes to bring our food.

LS 149. 12 February 1987

A Heavenly majesty15

Recently I went to a store in Queens. The owner, who is an Indian, said, “I saw you playing music in Vancouver at the end of last year.”

I was wearing my track suit, so I said, “Now I am in this uniform.”

He said, “No matter what you wear, you have a Heavenly majesty.”

LS 150. 5 March 1987

Unknown in Jamaica16

On our Christmas trip in South America, people often recognised me on the street. In one store, the owner said, “My friend, I saw you on television.” But his wife didn’t believe that I was his friend.

On another occasion, I went looking for flutes with Saraswati. She went into one shop and when she came back to the car, a young girl came running out of the shop just to see me.

But at an Indian store here in Jamaica, the saleslady did not know me at all. When I went inside, she asked me, “Are you with the Hare Krishna movement?”

I said, “No, I have my own.”

She said, “You?”

I told her my name but she had not heard it before. She said, “Oh no, I know only about Hare Krishna.”

The store was right here in Jamaica, and she did not know me! Databir was one hundred per cent sure that he had a brochure about me in his car, but he could not find it. So what could I do?

LS 151. 12 June 1987

You are so blessed17

Many years ago in Puerto Rico, I was looking at Bhakti Vedanta’s picture on the wall of his students’ restaurant. God knows why, but I had to tell the lady at the register that I knew him well.

She said, “You are so blessed.” Then she called over the other workers and said, “He saw our Master. He is so blessed.”

Bhakti Vedanta used to come to the Indian Consulate when I was working there.

LS 152. 2 July 1987

Buying one fish18

When I was in St. Louis, I wanted to get Nilima a present because she did not come on the trip. I saw two fish, but one was black, so I took only the other one to the counter.

The man said to me, “They are a set. You have to buy both of them.”

I said, “No, I don’t want the other one because it is black.”

The man said, “They are salt and pepper shakers. You don’t want to use both salt and pepper?”

I said, “No, I'm not going to use it for that.”

He asked, “What will you use it for?”

I told him, “I am going to use it as an incense burner.”

The man said, “You will have to pay the full price even if you only take one.”

So I said I would pay. But when I took out my money, he said, “All right, I'll charge you only for one.”

LS 153. 2 July 1987

Now you are so strong!19

Two days ago I went to buy some birds at a pet store in Queens. A few years ago I used to go to that store very often, but I have not been there recently.

While I was looking at two birds, Databir told the owner about my 7,000-pound one-arm lift and gave the man a poster.

Finally, I bought the two birds. When I came up to the man to pay, he said, “You look 20 years younger than when I last saw you. Now you are so strong!”

LS 154. 4 July 1987

The affectionate dog20

Vidhu, Vinaya and I went to a store. There was a very nice dog in the store, but it didn’t pay any attention to either Vidhu or me. It immediately went over to Vinaya and started licking his feet very affectionately.

LS 155. 18 September 1987

Trying to buy sushi21

Today I went to buy sushi for Lucy’s birthday. It took 15 minutes to make them understand what I wanted. My Indian English they didn’t understand. What could I do?

LS 156. 18 September 1987

Buying an instrument in Japan22

In Japan, Maral told me that he had found an instrument that he thought I might like. He said, “Guru, it is very expensive, but if you like it, I will buy it for you.” But I didn’t like the instrument, so I told him not to buy it.

The store also had some Western flutes. I said, “I would like to buy one,” but the man wouldn’t allow me to try the flutes because they were too expensive.

I said, “Without examining the flute or playing it, how can I buy it?”

The man said, “No, good musicians don’t need to play the flutes. I won’t allow it.”

We had pamphlets that said I play the flute at my concerts, but the man couldn’t read English. So we went to another store and found a Yamaha keyboard. I said, “Maral, just buy it.”

Then I left the place and Maral bought it.

LS 157. 30 October 1987

The advantage of being short23

Two days ago Vidhu and I went shopping. At one spot, they were unloading things from a truck, and there was a rail blocking the sidewalk. I was about to go out into the street to walk around the rail.

Vidhu was smiling at me. Then he just walked right under the rail.

I said, “See, there is an advantage to being short!”

LS 158. 30 October 1987

Two nice persons24

Yesterday I went to a store that sells medallions and trophies. This was my second visit there. The owner knows all about us because we always buy prizes for our marathons from him. His name is Joe.

I bought seven or eight trophies and some small medallions. I also bought a trophy for Databir because he had stood first in our tennis competition.

The bill came to $45. I said, “How can it be so low? I could never buy so many things from any other store for this price!”

Joe said, “It is because I have a soft heart for Sri Chinmoy.”

I said, “All right, your soft heart has touched my soft heart.” So instead of $45, I gave him $70, since 7 is one of my lucky numbers.

The man wanted to know how I could jump from $45 to $70, but I forced him to take the $70. Then he told me that since he is Catholic, one of the disciples had promised to give him a picture of me with the Pope. I said, “I will make sure that he keeps his promise.”

See how two persons can be nice!

LS 159. 30 October 1987

The Pope's picture25

The manager of the Marine Midland Bank told his wife that I had met the Pope and that I was going to present him with an autographed picture.

His wife didn’t believe that I would sign the picture for him.

The manager begged me to autograph the picture so he could prove to his wife that we are friends.

LS 160. 30 October 1987

The author26

I often go to a bookstore across from the Jamaica Savings Bank. The owner has known me for a long time, but to him I was just a customer. He had never been particularly interested in me.

Today when I went there, right on the front of his desk I saw Beyond Within and Eastern Light for the Western Mind.

I said, “These are my books.”

He said, “Heh!”

I said, “Yes.”

He asked, “You are the author?”

I was wearing shorts and he was looking at me as though he didn’t believe me.

Then he started asking me questions, and we talked for ten minutes.

I told him I wanted a daily prayer book. He found one and gave it to me. He said, “I will give you a little discount. I will sell it to you for eleven dollars.”

So I took out a ten-dollar bill and a single, but he gave me the one back and said, “Please come back again and again. I like to talk to you!.”

I have been there so many times, but this is the first time that this has happened.

LS 161. 18 November 1987

Memories of Bloomingdale's27

I went shopping with Databir today at Bloomingdale’s in Manhattan. When I used to work at the Indian Consulate, every day I would go to a small post office in Bloomingdale’s to mail passports for the Consulate. There was a black man who worked there, and each time he saw me he used to beg me to come to his church and listen to the sermon of his minister. He was very nice to me, but unfortunately I never went to his church.

LS 162. 18 November 1987

The proof28

About two or three months ago, on the way back from the airport, Nishtha took me to a store that only sells books about the Bible. A black lady came into the store and said that she knew me. In order to prove it, she showed me an aphorism that she had taken from Annam Brahma and was keeping in her bag. She said, “Here is the proof that I know you.”

LS 163. 18 November 1987

Another George Bernard Shaw29

I went into a bookstore that sold many spiritual books. I was very happy to see some books written by friends of mine in India, so I got four or five books.

At the counter I appreciated the bookstore like anything. Then I had to become another George Bernard Shaw: I had to ask if they had any books by Sri Chinmoy.

The man at the counter said, “Yes, there are many books by Sri Chinmoy.” Then he took me to one of the shelves, but none of my books were there. He said, “Definitely they were there.”

He said they sell my books, but that they were out of stock. He told me they get my books from India.

Then I introduced myself and said, “You don’t get them from India. Our Aum Publications sells them.”

They were so moved to meet me and asked for my autograph.

LS 164. 4 December 1987

The bookstore owner30

After I left the spiritual bookstore, I went downstairs to a musical instrument store. I was playing on a violin when an elderly lady came up to me with folded hands. I asked her if she wanted anything.

She said, “I did not see you when you were upstairs. I am the owner of the bookstore. I came here from down the street to see you.”

It was raining so heavily outside, but she had come into the music store just to see me. For her to go out in such weather was really something! She was standing in front of me so devotedly with folded hands.

LS 165. 4 December 1987

The little bargainer31

In Singapore I went into a camera shop to buy a camera case. A little girl about nine or ten was taking care of me. I asked her the price of one bag. She said it was 28 Singapore dollars, so I said, “Fine.”

Then she said to me, “No, it is $25.” I did not pay any attention to her because I was looking at other bags. Suddenly she said to me, “Why are you not buying the first bag? It is only $27.”

I looked at her and thought I had made a mistake. Perhaps she had not told me that it was $25. Otherwise, how could it be $27 now? I continued browsing, looking at other bags.

She said, “No, these other bags are very expensive. You take this one. It is $28.”

Finally I said, “Am I deaf? How could the price go up?”

The little girl said, “Did I tell you $25?”

I said, “You told me $25, $27 and $28.”

She said, “All right, if I said S25, then you can have it for $25.”

Then, when I gave her $25, she gave me back a dollar in change. She was great!

LS 166. 20 December 1987

Three becomes four32

In another store in Singapore, I was looking at some shirts imported from Hawaii. After I had selected three shirts, a little boy came up to me and said, “You will be sorry.”

I said, “Why?”

He said, “You need extra-large, not large.”

I said, “No, I am a large.”

But he took the trouble of getting the same shirts that I had selected — only in extra-large.

I asked, “Is there no place for me to try on these shirts to see which size fits me?”

He replied, “Yes, you can go there. But take both sizes.”

So I took one large and one extra-large to try on. The large size fit me perfectly. It was even a little long. I came back and told him, “The large fits me.”

The boy said, “Now that you have won, will you not buy one more shirt?”

I said, “Definitely I will buy one more.” Originally I had selected three shirts; but because I won, it became four.

LS 167. 20 December 1987

Shopping video33

While I was shopping in Padang, Indonesia, Niriha was following me and recording everything on her video camera. In five or six stores she took video. In the last store she took video of me bargaining. In the beginning the price was 200, but in the end it came down to 100.

Then, when I went into an Indian music store to buy two flutes, Niriha disappeared. I suspected that the owners were Tamil. Then all of a sudden the wife spoke to her husband in Tamil, asking him to give Agraha and me a chair.

Immediately I started speaking my Tamil. If Niriha had stayed to video, she could have got my Tamil voice. We were looking for Niriha, but that was the time she was missing!

LS 168. 30 December 1987

Fighting in the store34

Today I was bargaining in one store in Bukittinggi. The saleslady held up her hand twice, and I thought she wanted two times 500 or 1,000 rupiah. I said, “No, 200.”

I said to myself, “I will fight!”

Finally I said, “I will pay 500 rupiah,” and I gave the lady 500. Then she returned 200 to me.

At first I thought I may have given her 5,000 rupiah by mistake, but it was 500. So I was fighting for more than she was asking for!

LS 169. 1 January 1988

Vijali's immediate luck35

In Bukittinggi, I was bargaining to buy a synthesizer. The man in the store was coming down only 2,500 rupiah, so I did not want to get it.

I told Savyasachi to take Vijali there to bargain with them some more. She has immediate luck.

The synthesizer has one setting that sounds like a violin and another that sounds like a harpsichord. With my Yamaha, I have to push several buttons in order to make these sounds.

LS 170. 2 January 1988

The silent Brahma36

In some stores the people are nice; they are ready to bargain. In other stores, whatever price they say is all they will take — finished!

In one store I was bargaining and bargaining. The man in the store would write down one price, but I did not understand his writing, so I would write down another price. It never ended. Finally I bought two items and left.

Then I decided to go back and buy a third item — a T-shirt for Raghu. I said to myself, “I am not going to bargain this time. Whatever price the man asks for, I will give.”

The man said, “5,000 rupiah.”

I became the silent Brahma and said, “All right.”

The man couldn’t believe his ears. When I gave him 5,000, he returned 2,000 to me. That was a nice experience.

LS 171. 2 January 1988

Special greeting37

Every day when I am on my way to the shopping area in Bukittinggi, some little boys see me. They greet me by saying, “Good morning, Air India!”

LS 172. 2 January 1988

A great performance38

When I went into a flute store in Bukittinggi, Dhanu and a few other disciples also came in the store, and they were listening while I was trying out different flutes. Dhanu was supplying me with flutes, and I was trying to see which ones were good.

The owner was also selecting flutes for me. He wanted to show me how they sounded, so he was playing as loudly as possible. Meanwhile, I was trying to play in my civilised way. So the owner and I were giving a great performance! Finally I selected two flutes. The man used two Hindi words, so I started talking to him in Hindi. But he could not speak Hindi; he knew only two words and used them because I was an Indian.

The man asked for 10,000 rupiah for the two flutes, and I offered 5,000. The man said 7,000 and I was a little bit disappointed. Then Dhanu took out 5,000 from his wallet. I could see that the man was ready to accept 5,000, but he was not taking it. Finally, he agreed and took the money. I thought the transaction was over, so I took out 10,000 rupiah to pay Dhanu back. When the man saw my 10,000 rupiah, he thought it was for him. Then he didn’t want to sell the flutes for 5,000 and started asking for 10,000 again. What kind of problems I created!

Finally, I said that I wouldn’t pay more than 5,000, and Dhanu asked for his money back. Then the man accepted our price.

LS 173. 2 January 1988