Indonesia days: bargaining for rice

When I lived in Bandung, Indonesia, in the mid-1970s, it was the custom to bargain over the price of practically everything in the pasar [bazaar] and many other shops. This was something that most Europeans (which generically included all Americans; indeed, some Indonesians labeled all Europeans as orang Belanda — Dutchmen, based on 300-plus years of colonial rule in the Dutch East Indies) weren’t generally very good at.

Speaking more than enough Bahasa Indonesia to get by in the markets, I eventually did relatively well, at least to the the extent that Indonesian and the occasional East-Indian shop keepers would allow any European to drive a hard bargain. I’ll use bargaining for rice as an example: [Read more…]