Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Forties Club Finalist #70

The Amethyst
by Mayur Sharma


‘A1 quality madam, best price in all of Zaveri Bazaar,’ he beamed at us.

‘Show me some colorful trinkets,’ my mother smiled politely.

‘Yes yes, of course madamji. This way,’ he pointed towards a section that seemed to contain all colors of the universe in harmony.

‘We have rose quartz, lapis lazuli, jasper, ruby, sapphire, emeralds.. ’

‘That one, can I see it?’ mother said pointing at an amethyst.

I stared blankly at the painting behind him.

Her hesitant fingers hover over the stone. Experienced eyes peer closely to determine the luster, cut and clarity.

The shopkeeper grabbed his opportunity.

‘What taste madamji. Classy. Elegant. Would look very beautiful on you.’

Mother seemed impervious to it.

‘It’s for her actually,’ she said pointing towards me.

My eyes lit up.

‘How much’, she asked quietly.

‘4600 rupees only, madamji,’ he said with a twang.

Mother gasped.

Something sunk into the bottom of my stomach. Even the jeweler began to realize.

‘You can have it for 4500, best price madamji.’

My mother smiled a grateful smile, but shook her head in the negative.

‘Too expensive.’

That’s when it struck me – the heavy downpour had turned into a drizzle outside.

The jeweler smiled a knowing smile.

‘I’m hungry. Let’s go eat somewhere - my treat!’ she continued as we started to walk out.

‘Yeah. Let’s go some where classy. Elegant. But not THAT expensive,’ I pointed backwards.

We burst into laughter.

Just another fun way to deal with incessant rains in Mumbai.

18 comments:

Rohan said...

Super,Mayur.
Local flavour mixed with a not-so-uncommon idea to deal with Bombay deluge.

Well done!

JaneyV said...

Mayur, I liked interactions between the characters. I especially liked the crafty stall-holder and the way he tried to read his customers and cajole them into buying an overpriced piece of quartz by using flattery. The mother - daughter dynamic was also well handled.

I could feel the deluge as it started - like a warm waterfall drenching everything.

Peter Dudley said...

A1 quality madam, best price in all of Zaveri Bazaar

Might I recommend a comma after "quality"? At first I thought this was a story about a brothel and someone was reading an advertisement.

M. said...

Rohan - Thanks! I'm glad you like it ;)

Janey - I love portraying charaters using dialogues. Not as good as some of the posts I've read out here at Jason's hangout but i try ;). I'm happy you could relate to the conversation.

Peter - My bad! Honestly this was a last minute job written between 2 and 3 a.m. last night, I did not even re-read it until now when I got to know its in the forties club. But thats no excuse, you are right. It's just that there is a typical way in which the shopkeepers/salesmen talk in Mumbai and I wanted to bring that out. Completely missed out on the little details with the punctuation, thanks for letting me know. I hope you enjoyed the rest of it.

Laurel said...

So fresh and fun! A mother/daughter outing with a little covetous window shopping to pass the time during a storm. Simple and real.

Oddyoddyo13 said...

Loved how realistic this was! Haha, maybe I should do that sometime...

AidanF said...

Nice repartee between the characters in this piece. I like the way you captured the bazaar shopkeeper's voice.

Erratic Thoughts said...

Haha..Wicked.I really do this sometimes, when I don't get my umbrella/jerkin with me,but nothing with such a finesse.That was so much fun, I really enjoyed it!
One needs skill to escape the wrath of Mumbai rains!

M. said...

Laurel - :D. Thanks!

oddyoddy013 - ofcourse you should do it sometime! mommies like surprise gifts once in a while :p

AidanF - Glad you like it! :)

Erratic Thoughts - So true! If you cant escape it, might as well enjoy it! :D

Deb Smythe said...

That was a fun piece. I enjoyed the haggling dialogue. It brought the characters and the setting to life.

Dottie (Tink's Place) said...

Hi Mayur

LOLOLOL What people will do to get out of the rain (I've done something similar... shopping to get out of the rain.. no intention of buying, lol)!

Hope they had a great lunch!

Dottie :)

Aniket said...

@Pete: For once I'd disagree with you on the comma issue. (I've waited for this moment, all my life :D) Though you are technically correct. The comma suits where is it is if you know how the hawkers attempt English here. Its much like the commentator shouting Crespo to Sorin-Sorin to Riquelme-Riquelme to Messi and its-a-goal! All in one breath. Its one of the reasons I shy away from writing pieces in Indian setting. If I make every day characters speak perfect English, then I'm not keeping it real. And if I use poor grammar, I'm punishing my readers by breaking their flow. Still haven't found a solution.

@Mayur: I know what you mean by Mumbai rains. I am living it here too. :) I go to breakfast/lunch/brunch or just munch to avoid the rains. But yeah, the fairer sex will go for shopping for just about any reason. And this one seems as good as any. :P

Well written. Simple. And elegant. Good job, friend.

Amrita said...

I love this piece. It’s one of my favourites. You have captured the essence of Mumbai n its people so perfectly. I agree with Aniket about the comma. that’s how hawkers talk here... :)

@Aniket: I live here too... and no i will not shop when it’s raining elephants and dinosaurs. i would prefer sitting by my window sipping coffee, and reading a book. Am i an exception???

JR's Thumbprints said...

Your story has sharp dialogue. I love the setting. This story reminds me of the cab driver story, but with a different outcome.

M. said...

Dottie - Yeah! Maybe i should cook up their lunch story sometime soon too. Glad you like it ;)

Aniket - Exactly! SO many Indian writers have written and tried to capture our unique voice, the nuances of our culture and mannerisms. Its always a tough job to portray it, especially in a 250 word piece. But thanks to Peter I atleast know what I should watch out for now. Although sometimes I also wonder if a writer writes for his readers or for the pure joy that writing brings to him. Maybe Id learn to strike a balance as I grow and mature. I am super glad you like it, though. ;)

Amrita - OH well, I know! Coffees and pakoras and a book - thats the recipe for a perfect rainy day! But what if you were outside, like maybe in town or something, im sure a teeny weeny bit of you would be wanting to go into the nearest shop and atleast do window shopping until the rain goes away :p. Im glad you identify with this story though, thanks!

JR - Yeah, I just finished reading the cab driver story and THAT is way better than mine, super cool. If mine was sharp that was cutting edge, strange how people could look at the same thing and have somewhat overlapping ideas ;). This place has been quite an experience and thanks again for your encouragement.

Catherine Vibert said...

Having been there and been in my naivete, um, misled shall we say, by a shopkeeper or two, I can honestly say this one brought great joy to read. Funny though, and this is my downfall in India, I still felt compassion for the shopkeeper in your story, and the great hope he likely felt which was so quickly disappointed. (She could have got him down to 2500 rupees easily if she bartered just a bit more. :-)

Nice piece!

M. said...

Catherine - then I wish you had read this earlier :d. but it'd be super fun to see you bargain out here in mumbai. you are right - they'd see a tourist and quote double the rates sometimes and happily settle for half the price later on, if ya know what i mean. :D. Thanks and glad you like it!

Aniket said...

Congratulations for the honorable mention!

@Amrita: There is a reason I choose to interact with my writer friends more than the "real" friends. In our own wonderful ways, we are all different than other "normal" people. :)