Monday, June 3, 2013

Banana Silk

Of all the lessons I've learned in India, the most important has been about banana silk. As crazy as it sounds, banana silk has changed my approach to life for forever. Homespun right here in India, banana silk is the softest, most shiney, and valuable silk you can find. I first laid eyes on banana silk while in Pushkar. I was walking through the market looking for a gift when I saw silk scarves hanging in a shop. This was still early on in the trip, so I didn't really have a good idea of how exactly to haggle or about the different qualities of items. The scarves initially got my attention, but the real prize was the conversation that followed. The shop owner was twenty-seven and had a calm demeanor similar to myself. His disinterest in me as a potential buyer sparked my interest in him as a shop owner. This approach was different than any other I had experienced in India. Most shop owners will do just about anything to get you to make a purchase, but this man told me simply, "if you buy that's your business, if you don't buy that's your business". To quote James Huneker, "he dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom". In that moment I dared to be a fool by asking the real price of his items, as if he would tell me. At the time it seemed foolish but looking back it was the best question i've asked the entire trip. What followed was a three hour conversation. The conversation went from religion, to family, to culture, to the art of bartering. He taught me the real price of goods in India and how to get the price that I wanted. His message was simple: have patience and the price will become right. I learned more from this man in three hours than I could have learned from months of traveling in India, but we only ended up where we originally started; banana silk. The scarf is what I wanted but what I recieved instead was wisdom. In this one conversation about banana silk, I learned the true secret about bartering in India; its not about buying or selling but rather about the relationships you build. My approach had been all wrong. I was only concerned about getting items for the lowest possible price, when unknowingly to me I would be able to get the lowest possible price if my goal was to instead build lasting relationships. Although we were talking about a 500 rupee scarf, the lesson learned on that day applies to all aspects of life. Money, cars, clothes, etc. dont matter. Life is about the genuine relationships you build with others and loving others as you love yourself. This lesson learned in Pushkar, India I will carry with me for the rest of my life. In the end I indeed got the scarf for the lowest possible price of banana silk, 200 rupees, but the wisdom I recieved on that day is priceless.

West Barkon

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