I have a few quick stories for you.  It seems almost daily something peculiar catches my attention, few instances are blogged about, but when I find myself experiencing the same odd thing twice, I just have to write about.  This first anecdote is exactly one of those.

On one of our first days in this new town, I wanted to buy some bananas.  I know that a banana costs about 2 rupees each, but they are generally sold by the kilogram and they are usually sold on push carts scattered around the city.  So I approached the first banana man, a youngish man probably around my age and asked how much they were.

Banana man: 12 banana, 40 rupee.
Me: That’s a little pricy.  How much for one banana?
Banana man: One banana, 2 rupee.
Me: Hmm.  Not 12 banana, 24 rupee?
Banana man: 12 banana, 40 rupee.
Me: I guess I’ll take two.

It was kind of funny, but the next time I wanted to buy bananas, I couldn’t immediately remember who I had wanted to go to, and I wound up at his cart again.  His prices didn’t change, but this time I offered him, “5 banana, 10 rupee.”  He was visibly puzzled and said, “6 banana, 20 rupee.”  And for me, the situation went from comical to sad.  He so clearly couldn’t figure out the math, it made me feel really bad for him.

Later, I told the story to a Dutch woman who lives here and she said that most of the people who sell fruit are completely illiterate and dependent on the wholesaler.  They’ll ask the wholesaler how much they should sell each item for, and they trust whatever he says with no way of reasoning how to negotiate prices with customers.

My next story isn’t sad!  Our second day in this city was a kite flying holiday.  Silhouettes  of children lined the sky, as they stood on rooftops piloting their kites as high as the kite could incline.  The next day was Sunday and when we went to church, one amazing little girl, Mercy, gave Burke a kite!  Burke was so happy, but when it was time for lunch, he asked the rickshaw driver if it would be safe to leave it in the rickshaw.  The driver said, “I’ll take it, and if something happens to it, I’ll get you a new one,” and then he carried it into the restaurant with us.

After lunch, when we were ready to go, the kite was nowhere to be seen.  Burke asked the driver where it was, and so he went back into the restaurant.  He was gone for a l.o.n.g. time.  I thought surly it was thrown away or destroyed and now our driver was on the road somewhere trying to buy a new one.  Five to ten minutes later when he came back he not only had Burke’s kite, but a second kite too!

We actually went to another church service that day, and again Burke left his kites in the trusty care of our driver.  We didn’t realize until we got home, but somehow, the driver turned Burke’s two kites into three!  Naturally, Burke thanked him profusely, but the driver never really said how or why he kept getting more kites.  We look forward to the next time we use that driver again, hoping he’ll have even more!