The ambience at Shilparamam has become a little festive this month with the presence of firangs — thanks to the ongoing Conference of Parties-11 at the HICC. Foreign delegates who have flown down to the city for the conference, slip out to explore the city of Hyderabad whenever they get a chance. One of their favourite spots is the Shilparamam crafts mela, which is currently housing around 300-odd stalls of articles from across the country — making it the best place to purchase all sorts of exquisite Indian clothes, jewellery, and more. However, even though the footfall of these firangs is quite good, their presence has not boosted sales at the mela as expected, and some of the stall owners blame the Indian guides who accompany these delegates.
“Sunday was the day when most of these delegates made it to the mela and we were expecting our sales to go up. But, some of the foreigners were accompanied by Indian guides, and they somehow managed to discourage these people from purchasing anything — by saying that the prices we were charging were too high and unreasonable,” began complaining Javed, who has a stall of Kashmiri shawls.
“We charge the same price for the foreigners, as we do for our Indian customers. But, these Indian guides make us look like fraudsters. Is this the impression we are trying to create?” he questioned with indignation.
Javed is not the only one to face such a problem. Mohammad Habid, from the neighbouring stall, who sells Hyderabadi bangles, shared, “When foreigners come by themselves, our sales are perfectly fine. They like something, we quote a price, and when they ask us for a discount, we give them 20 per cent discount as well. But, when they are accompanied by local guides, no amount of discount is considered reasonable and whatever price we ask for is considered expensive. They discourage the foreigners, and we lose out.”
As the two neighbours at the crafts mela were not-so-happy with the local guides, Umesh Kumar, a jewellery stall-owner from Delhi was quite content with the sales he’s been having throughout the year, and particularly this month.
“I have a permanent stall here and sales through the year are good enough. But, this being a festive month and also because of the conference, the sales have gone up considerably,” explains Umesh.
Ask him if the guides that accompany the firangs bother him, and he replies, “No. Not at all. Most guides who come along with them are aware of the prices and do not get involved in the transaction if I charge a reasonable amount. But, it is the ones who are not familiar with the price range, who discourage foreigners from making the purchase. Fortunately, there are not many of those guides.”