Luxor is frequently referred to as the “hassle capital of Egypt” and sometimes the “hassle capital of the world” on the net, and to some degree that is true. The hassle at Luxor Train Station drives me nuts (when I think about it, so I try not to!) and the hassle at the Giza Plateau is unreal!.
But the street hassle in Luxor? – To some degree, I have an explanation for it, and sometimes when we gain an understanding of a different culture, it takes the sting out of the problem and provides us with a solution.
Your initial reaction is to say “No” or “No Thank you!” in your native language or if you are reading the online tips, blogs etc. .you will have read that “La Shukran” (meaning “no thank you”) will work a charm! Well, no it won’t so I have to wonder what other charms these tipsters and advisors used!
Everyone working with tourists in Luxor has a smattering of practically every language in the world (definitely they know the translation in every language for the word “NO” because it is being shouted at them every day) so, in Heaven’s Name WHY won’t any of them take “NO!”for an answer???
THE ANSWER IS VERY SIMPLE (and I can’t understand why I have never seen it anywhere on the net and have never heard it from an Egyptian Guide, Travel Agent or Tour Operator/Leader).
The following are all tactics generally used when bargaining!
- “No!” “No thank you!” “Not now!” “Tomorrow” “Maybe Later!”
- Walking away and staring either at the ground or straight ahead
- Expressing dis-interest = not expressing interest
- Shaking your head
- Not answering
Ahmed and his wife, Sammar, stroll into the bazaar in Luxor. They are greeted with invitations to visit the various shops; they smile at some, and shake their heads at others. They know they are going to buy her a gallabeya (long dress for wearing at home). They are stopped in front of a shop selling clothes, and Ahmed shakes his head at the man’s invitation to come in. The man persists – Ahmed and Sammar enter the shop. The man in the bazaar knows they are going to buy a dress; otherwise, they would not have entered his shop, and Ahmed would not have shaken his head at the initial invitation.
So another man in the shop rushes over to offer them tea, cola, and water and asks who they are buying for (is it for Sammar or a family member?). He also asks what color they have in mind. Not paying them this attention is considered disrespectful. The shopkeeper pulls out various dresses, and Sammar shows little or no interest, while Ahmed is probably exchanging comments with passersby or others in the shop. It is a leisurely event, and nobody is in a hurry. Ahmed asks the price of one of the gallabeyas and expresses a lack of interest because of the price.
Eventually it comes down to one or two gallabeyas, and they begin seriously discussing the price. Ahmed or Sammar may get up to leave, not having completed the deal. Now comes the last price from the shopkeeper. There is a smile from Ahmed; he is happy to pay this for his lovely wife’s gallabeya. More smiles all around, a handshake between Ahmed and the shopkeeper—the deal has been agreed to everyone’s satisfaction.
So every gesture used by tourists to turn away the taxi, calesh man etc. has been involved in this shopping adventure. Now, can you understand that the men in the street shouting at you, for the most part, don’t know if you are genuinely not interested or just really good at bargaining?
THREE TYPES OF SHOPS IN THE SOUK
SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?
What can tourists do to discourage the sellers and touts, enjoy their holiday, keep their sense of humor, get good bargains, and keep their sanity? ANSWER: Walk like an Egyptian!! It’s simple but not easy; it needs a little bit of practice. Walk out of the hotel, head high, make eye contact with the sellers, SMILE, NOD and KEEP WALKING. Now you must do all three at the same time; this is why it takes practice. Normally, if we smile or acknowledge a person, we tend to stop and chat. DON’T HESITATE! and DON’T STOP!
By smiling and nodding, you are acknowledging that you heard the offer, think it is good/agreeable but are not in the market for the product right now. But you must keep walking. Smiling, nodding, and stopping make you dead meat! Pretend you are a king or queen, smiling and nodding to the crowds.
Additional side effects of using this strategy? Of course! You feel happy, confident, and in control!