Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Top dollar

I still enjoy going to the big market near our apartment to buy fresh fruits and vegetables and to hobnob with the vendors. I have a few favorites, people I've trusted for a long time and whom I enjoy seeing. Alla has been skeptical about one of these favorites, because I'm not as attentive as she would be to prices and sometimes my total bill from this one comes out higher than it might have been had I chosen a different vendor.

Yesterday I needed some extra vegetables for a recipe I wanted to cook, so I went down to see Tehrana. Tehrana is generous with me, sometimes embarrassingly so, and I'm completely confident in her prices. But on my way to her stand, I passed by Armenya. Armenya is the one Alla worries about, and she sells mostly fruits in the wintertime. I couldn't pass by without saying hello, and she urged me to buy something. She had some nice looking pomegranates, and I haven't had any in a month or two so I asked her to choose me a couple of them. They were kind of expensive, but I added a zucchini anyway because Tehrana doesn't sell zucchini either. The bill came out to $10. Or was it $15? I'm not completely sure. I knew Alla wouldn't like that, but there I was and I did want to have pomegranate. But then Armenya went for the combination sale. Would I like a taste of mango? Yes, it was delicious, so I agreed to buy one. Suddenly the bill skyrocketed to over 600,000 rubles. That's like thirty bucks! I thought I must be confused, so I got out my phone and checked the exchange rate.

I certainly couldn't go home and tell Alla I'd bought four ordinary things and spent thirty dollars. She'd never let me go to the market again. So I told Armenya that I didn't want the mango. She negotiated. Would I pay 550,000 rubles for everything? 500,000? That's still $25, and I knew better than to do that. No mango for me. Armenya adjusted the price back down to 210,000 rubles. Hadn't it been 310,000 before we added the mango? I was no longer sure, but ten bucks for two pomegranates and a little squash would already send Alla into orbit so I asked no further questions and paid up.

During the rest of my visit to the market I bought a lot more stuff and had trouble spending much money at all. I don't know what Armenya's deal might be, but perhaps I won't try to find out.

As for my original purpose, however, I'm happy to report that dinner came out well:

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