Monday, November 5, 2012


How easy is the life for to day's generation to buy things of daily life with all the super markets and malls offering every conceivable need of the consumer under one roof. Added to this on almost all packs, well sealed and tamper proof, the MRP ( maximum retail price) is printed and no buyer needs to pay more than the prescribed price with the knowledge what is inside the pack and the quantity. It is another matter that many packed goods are sold by the retailers at prices significantly below the MRP, giving an empty satisfaction of being a good bargainer for thousands of consumers. But just 3-4 decades ago there was just ordinary shops and there were road side vendors offering goods with high bargain potential.

In a story told by Vedavyas, presently the senior most icon in Badettu family, late Badettu Narnappaya was an excellent bargainer, especially with small scale vendors and can get many things at seemingly low prices, unimaginable to many. In one instance his bargaining ability was brought out when he was returning from Alleppey along with Vedavyas, probably in 1950s. Here is take on this interesting episode.

From Alleppey to Padubidri, during those days one has to really take too much efforts requiring high stamina to reach Padubidri. The journey involves catching a bus or a boat from Alleppey to Ernakulam and the bus route has a ferry to be crossed at a place called Aroor. After arriving at Ernakulam, the next leg of the journey is by overnight train reaching Mangalore late morning of next day. Private buses plying between Mangalore and Udipi had to do a "relay" journey with separate buses at three river crossing points to reach Padubidri. The famous Taj Mahal Hotel, which exists even to day at the historic Hampenkatta, was a "must stop" for travelers coming by train for break fast or meals. It was during such a trip that Narnappaya showed his bargaining skill to Vedavyas.

Hampenkatta was a central market place for road side vendors and flower, especially jasmine was being sold by Christian women known popularly as "bais" who normally quote a price which is uniformly followed by all. But there was sufficient leeway for each of these bais to sell at prices decided between the seller and the buyer. Narnappaya, with his typical "juttu" (pony tail like tuft) approached one of the bais, while crossing the road going to Bus Stand wanting to buy a "Chendu" (about 1 meter long stringed flower). Almost all bais started calling him "Batru" (revered brahmin) inviting to buy from them. Against Rs 2 for a chendu, Narnappaya coolly offered 4 annas (quarter of a rupee) and probably Vedavyas was covering his head not able to stomach this ridiculous price offered by his grandpa.

Not bothered about the likely the ridicule he might face, Narnappaya patiently approached the bais one by one making his Annas offer and finally he struck a bargain for 8 Annas ! The art of bargaining as reflected by this episode seems to have disappeared to day with people flush with money give whatever is asked for without realizing the actual value of the item purchased. This is not to say that no one does bargaining any more in the modern society and it is true that there are many house wives existing even to day endowed with such a skill.

One wonders how bad Narnappaya would have felt, had he lived long enough to see the supermarkets of to day where prices are fixed with no scope for any bargain!

Answer to the last quiz

No one in Badettu family has a flying license though Mr Mohan, son of late Padmanabh of Kolam, was the first person who served in Indian Air Force as well as Air India in the aircraft engineering service.

Quiz for this Issue

Who was the first son-in-law of Badettu family who became a successful dental surgeon of repute?


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