One of my favorite activities as a child was to observe my grandmother conduct her business meetings with the businessmen who would walk the streets. She worked from home, as the saying goes these days. 'Paathram Vangalaiyo Paathram' was the ping of the outlook that my pati would respond to and my siblings and I would run out to call the vendor in. The prerequisite of inviting a vessel vendor was collect enough unusable/old/worn-out clothes, of all shapes and sizes to trade in for the wares that he was selling. Being a large family of 10, this process would not take much time. This event of buying vessels from these vendors would be so exciting for me that I would not leave my pati's side for the entire transaction, unlike my brothers, who would run off to play. I was my Pati's right hand(ahem!)..
After the initial formalities, the vendor would place all his smaller wares in a spread and ask Pati to take a look. She would have a poker face and listen to all his sales ramblings in a calm 'kungfu panda' master style. I, on the other hand, a sweet(ahem) innocent, curious, angel-like(ahem x 2), pre-teen, would be completely taken in by the grandiosity of his speech and would have probably bought the smallest of his wares for a bigger trade in of a silk sari. I remember that none of his words impressed Pati. She would urge him gently to take out better wares, at which he would spread out his medium-sized vessels, his panic increasing by the minute, seeing no reaction on my pati's countenance, as emotion-less as a sleeping child.
The torturous thing about any conversation is to be the talker and have a silent, blank-faced listener. The monkey-mind starts playing guessing games about what the other person is not speaking or thinking, while none of it might be true. The listener might just be going through a phase of temporary hearing loss, or might have lost the ability to process human sounds. The best thing about any conversation is to either be the talker and have an eager audience, or to be the listener to a thesis on the greatness of ...oneself. Well, completing de detour..
Then, Pati would ask me to bring a small bag of clothes from the box where we used to store the old clothes. She knew the tricks of the trade too well, and also knew that the patient one would win the game. She would open the bag in front of the vendor and pick out the ones which would trade for the small wares and offer them for the medium wares. This would start the bargaining section of the transaction, at the end of which, pati would have convinced him to give a large vessel for the whole bag of clothes. Yaarkitte!
My Pati resembled the Great Masters in the Chinese martial arts movies in her mannerisms. She would take a long time, processing all the data between each piece of cloth and choosing the most worn out one, or not that much worn out one to give away. It was very important for her not to give away all the trump cards. It was almost as if she was in conversation with a panel of advisors in her mind. This was possibly one of the methods chosen by Dalai Lama to train the monks in the quality of patience: Making one watch someone else make a decision ala tortoise. Well, I used to just be waiting without breathing like it was the 'Best Actor' award at the Oscars, for the 'Most worn-out t-shirt of the month' winner. Ofcourse, the vendor was not trained in the art of patience and hence would start giving up his high priced possessions for a lesser trade-in. I used to wonder how he would use all these clothes. I still don't know the answer. Surely, these cannot be sold for a price. Where would he get his money if old clothes were his only means of income? I would not participate with my vocal cords in these meetings, since I was a student of the art of Business and the best way to learn is to listen carefully. Well, being the fair one that she was( even in looks), pati would give him a silk sari for another piece of steel and bring the meeting to an end, with everyone getting a better piece of the sale.
Like my Pati, there are such wonderful business minds groomed at home just through daily transactions, and to watch them in action is but a treat of a lifetime..
Thanks for joining us at this meeting! Adios until the next one!