Stop ask­ing for Chi­nese goods

Global Times – Metro Beijing - - TWOCENTS - By Alok Joshi Page Edi­tor: lilin@glob­al­

For my up­com­ing va­ca­tion, I al­ready have a long list of shop­ping re­quests from my friends and rel­a­tives back home in In­dia, from Chi­nese-brand smart­phones to clothes and spices.

As it al­ways hap­pens, as soon as I tell my mom I am com­ing home, half the coun­try gets this news. More than the crowded flights to In­dia at un­earthly hours, it is the prod­ucts that I al­ways need to buy from China that scare me.

I love shop­ping, but only for my­self. Bring­ing home gifts is still more in­ter­est­ing be­cause it is al­ways a pleas­ant sur­prise for oth­ers. How­ever, hunt­ing for some­thing that my friends have asked me to buy is a pain.

They as­sume that China is dirt cheap com­pared to other coun­tries, or even In­dia.

There was a time when Chi­nese con­sumer goods were cheaper. How­ever, that is not the case any longer.

When I first came to China, one Chi­nese yuan was equiv­a­lent to six or seven In­dian ru­pees. Now the ra­tio is 1:10.

There is no point in buy­ing things from China and tak­ing them to In­dia.

One time a rel­a­tive asked me to buy saffron from China for cook­ing In­dian dishes, so I asked a Chi­nese col­league to get me some saffron from In­ner Mon­go­lia. Just a tiny pinch of saffron cost me 500 yuan ($74). My rel­a­tive dis­ap­point­edly told me I should have a big heart and bring more quan­tity. I learned my les­son. Now I buy more quan­tity of it in In­dia and tell them it is from China. They feel happy and so does my wal­let.

The most com­mon de­mand is for clothes. How­ever, clothes are no longer as cheap as in the past, even in places like Yashow Mar­ket in Chaoyang dis­trict, which is known in ex­pat com­mu­ni­ties for its low prices. The only thing I do now is ask lo­cals to buy some goods for me on­line, which are os­ten­si­bly cheaper than an open mar­ket. One year I took Chi­ne­se­made um­brel­las and the next year it was Chi­nese green tea. I even took Chi­nese snacks and can­dies, but ev­ery­one cursed me more than be­ing thank­ful be­cause they did not like the taste. My Chi­nese friends who work for in­ter­na­tional com­pa­nies tell me they take empty suit­cases on their busi­ness trips to some Euro­pean coun­tries to bring back house­hold con­sumer goods. They say these goods are cheaper abroad and of bet­ter qual­ity. Now ev­ery­thing is avail­able ev­ery­where, but some peo­ple ex­pect for­eign goods for free. So my dear coun­try folks if you are lis­ten­ing, China is dif­fer­ent now. The qual­ity of goods has been im­proved and peo­ple are pay­ing more for a good life these days. Big cities like Bei­jing and Shang­hai are even more ex­pen­sive. Ex­cept for Chi­nese noo­dles, ev­ery­thing is more ex­pen­sive here. And I am sure you don’t want me to bring Chi­nese noo­dles back home!

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