Bargaining in the Souk

Bshhal?  (How much?), I say, pointing to an objet d’art.

He gives a figure.

La?!  (No?!), in mock shock at the price he has quoted.  Bezzaf!  (Expensive!)

How much you pay?

I get out a small pad of paper and pen (invaluable in the souk) and write a much lower figure.

Now it is his turn to be "shocked," handmade, silver, he says launching into a spiel.

We bargain some more back and forth.  The call to prayers starts in the background, he says, "listen, good sign."

I say, yes but for which one of us?  He laughs.  I am not budging much on the price so he tries to distract me with a less valuable piece.

C’est la ou rien, I reply.  For some reason the use of English, Arabic and French is not confusing.

Then he says "you give me maximum price, top, price serioux."

La, I reply, you give me minimum price, price serioux.

He laughs.  You professor?

Now, I am shocked.  Yes, how did you know?

I smelt it, he says touching his nose. "Everywhere professors have good eye but no money."

I seize an unexpected advantage, na’am (yes) no money.

We bargain some more and come to a deal.  I ask for my pen back.  He says no, small gift, small gift, mon amis.

Twenty dirhams!, I reply.

Professor, you must be Berber.

I laugh.  He keeps the pen.

Addendum:  If you go, ask for mon amis Rashid at Zemouri Ahmed Belhaj in the Souk.  Tell him that the Professor, day after Christmas, sent you.  He says he will remember. 


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