Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bab Al Bahrain & Slimey Syrian Salesmen

Today's been one of those incredibly busy days.
I decided to trek out in the morning to see the new renovations on the center (or main souq) of old bahrain.  It's known as Bab Al Bahrain (the door of Bahrain), and back in the olden days boats would enter the city through that gate.
It's now quite far from any sort of water.
You know.
Modernization and whatnot.
But I digress.... so I decided to go check out the 'new' souq, and it's much better than I would have thought.
The walls seems plastered and are a gorgeous shade of white, mixed with a modern arabesque dark wood make the place seem incredibly serene.

Even though it was a hot day, the tented area, along with the architectural structure created this amazing breeze, which was perfect.

After a morning of browsing and people watching, we got home just in time to partake in one of Bahrain's latest fads... the home salemen (gosh... the proper word seems to have escaped my mind... you know the guys who come round to homes and sell -usually housewives- some amazing new product... a vacuum machine, a blender etc etc.)
Well this guy was trying to persuade us to buy a water filter.

Since Bahrain is a desert island, it's pretty hard getting fresh spring water for daily uses, so anything that comes out of the tap in pretty much undrinkable. So for a nifty solution, water companies have sold water coolers (with 'sweet' water as they like to call it) for drinking.

To explain the ridiculousness of the situation, here I am sitting with my mother, the main salesman, and a rookie that he's trying to teach the ropes. As it turns out he happens to be the manager of the company, so there was quite a lot riding on this sale.

He basically ends up using 10 minutes worth of talking material over a span on an hour and a half.
Neither my mum or I had any intention or desire to buy the device (which he knew walking in), but we were a receptive audience.
The conversation went as follows:

Syrian Salesman: This water purifier is the best thing since sliced bread. It's by far the most amazing thing for your families health and well being. 
Look it does this.... this..... this..... this.... AND this.
So what do you think? 
Do you want to buy it now? 
How about now?
It's only USD$3000!

Mum: (trying to find a way out)...well... even though I agree with everything you say... and it is an
amazing product, I can't buy something like this without consulting my husband first....

SS: Well...ok.  But let me ask you one question first... 
[me in my head: no.... don't do it... don't go there...]

SS: ....Do you care about the health of your family? 
Do you realize that everyday you go without this product you are slowly killing your children (he then points in my direction)... 
Wouldn't you want to sent your daughter to school (that's right... apparently i'm 16 again) with a cup of tea knowing that you're not killing her slowly?

Mum: Well... ummm... no... I guess not..

SS: Don't you care about them? DON'T YOU  LOVE THEM? Your daughter is convinced... (he then looks at me....) aren't you?

So by this point this theme of conversation has gone on for about 40 minutes, I'm behind on lunch making, my mum is trying to be polite and tell him gently that she can't buy anything without discussing the issue first.
Knowing how she is, she is incapable of being direct when it matters.

So I took the opportunity and said:

Me: Well even though that display was pretty nifty (he tested the water with electrodes), it doesn't really indicate anything concrete from a scientific perspective, and while I'm sure your product is aweome, no one in this house buys anything instantly.  A lot of research goes into what we get, so if your prduct is as amazing as you say it is, you'll be getting a call form us in a day or two.

I swear to god, I've never seen anyone's face change so quickly.
I didn't think I'd said anything too out there (I mean if it was me, I'd want someone to tell me I was wasting my time, instead of yammering for an additional hour and not get anywhere!)
So here I was, the manager completely shocked, the rookie trying really hard not to start laughing at him, and my mum just shocked.
Just sitting there, too scared to look away.

So yeah.
That was my morning.

Oh and them I hit up the pool.
It's officially summer in Bahrain.
You heard it here first!
Lots of love,


  1. (canvassers)

    hilarious how they expect people to not think about what they're buying and just work off emotional hits