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Reporter Kristian Harrison goes bargaining … and tackles the annual Autumn Fair for the first time
SHOPPING! Just a simple word, but one to strike fear into the heart of the steeliest man. Coupled with my irrational phobia of bartering, this was an assignment guaranteed to be a recipe for disaster.
Perhaps the most worrying thing of all was why someone saw fit to name this event ‘The Autumn Fair’ considering it’s now almost February, but that’s another matter.
Greeted by the rammed car park upon my arrival at the National Exhibition Centre in Sanabis, I built myself up to walk in and sample the plethora of wares on offer, ranging from clothes, to carpets, to art, to foods both local and global, and a myriad of other trinkets waiting to be snapped up by the eager beavers milling around.
Now, if you’re anything like me, then scurrying around shops and market stalls is an activity strictly reserved for Christmas Eve and the night before a family member’s birthday. Luckily, tomorrow is my sister, Nikita’s, so it was perfect timing.
I was barely in the door before I was being nagged by a bustling lady who insisted that her range of children’s Disney pyjamas would be the perfect fit for me. A 6”1’, 26 year-old parading round in a nighty emblazoned with Elsa from Frozen might make for some hilarious pictures on Facebook and an embarrassing wedding-day slideshow, but I scurried on and made my getaway through the crowds.
I had more success in the food section. Initially attracted by the whiff of spices and cinnamon, I found a quaint stall selling a variety of sweet treats. Now I was in business, as far as finding a birthday present goes.
There’s nothing like food, and sugary stuff at that, to satisfy my sibling!
Armed with a box of honey cakes and a chocolate fondue set, I snaked around the labyrinthine pathways and dodged entranced individuals busy gazing at the huge variety of goods from more than 750 exhibitors from 18 countries.
I’d gone into the fair with the mentality that I would brush off anyone trying to palm off their items on me, but my resolve softened when I saw the beaming smile of an Emirati gentleman who pointed at his huge rack of bracelets next to him.
I probably should have hidden the large trail of them going up my arm, but I was far too slow for this wily old fox who seized me and coerced me into purchasing another couple, a red-and-white crossed band for myself and a silver piece stamped with ‘sister’ for … guess. At least that nightmare was over for another year!
Actually, it wasn’t. I then had to negotiate a price.
I was literally shaking with anxiety, as I absolutely hate bartering.
As our British readers will know, where we come from, ‘the price is the price’. Pay it, or be told where to go!
Out of sheer desperation I haggled a price with all the guile of Brian of Nazareth. I’d rather pay ‘the expat price’ than mortally offend someone by lowballing them.
That was all I could take for one day, and I scurried to my car all flustered, hoping I would never have to show my face here again.
Readers interested in running the gauntlet themselves have until tomorrow to check the fair out before it retires for another year.
Who knows, next year it might be repackaged as the Spring Fair … coming to you in November.