Buying a sari

Since it was Pragati's birthday and she was driving me, I said, "Let me buy her a gift." I entered into a fabric store, but they didn't have a proper sari. I asked, what is the price for a yard of this particular fabric?"

The lady said, "Fifty pesos."

I said to myself, "Let me not bargain, since I like the fabric. Today let me be a different person."

So I said to her, "All right. I would like six yards."

The lady started measuring it, and I began browsing in the store. By the time I came back, the fabric was all cut and properly folded. She had put it on the counter and had written down on a piece of paper, "Seventy-five pesos times six yards."

I said, "You told me it was fifty pesos."

She said, "No, while you were looking around the store, I saw that the actual price was ninety pesos. I told you fifty, but I was wrong."

I said, "Then you should have asked me if I wanted to pay more than fifty."

She said, "From ninety I have made it seventy-five."

She was showing me the price. It said ninety. But God knows if she had written it after she told me the price.

I said to myself, "Since she has told me one lie, how can I believe that this is six yards?"

I asked her to measure the fabric in front of me. She pretended it was beneath her dignity to do this, so I started measuring it myself. It was just a little over four yards — not even four and a half. Instead of fifty pesos, it had become seventy-five, and instead of six yards, it had become four.

Then she came up to me and said, "I told you fifty, so you can have it for fifty pesos a yard." She spoke good English. There was no problem with the language. Perhaps if it had been six yards, the length of a proper sari, I would have paid seventy-five pesos. But it was not even four and a half yards, so I just left the store.

That was my first bad experience with a Mexican shopkeeper. All frustration! If I had believed the lady that it was six yards, I would have given it to Pragati. Perhaps she would never have told me that it was only four yards. She would have kept it on her shrine instead of wearing it.