Shopping Outside the Taj Mahal | India
No cars are allowed within a 5km radius of the Taj Mahal mausoleum. In an effort to reduce pollution around the white marble, you must arrive by golf cart, horse drawn carriage, bike, camel, or on foot. Our driver dropped us off in a golf cart and we walked the rest of the way.
Approaching the entrance of the Taj Mahal, hawkers and beggars came up to us, asking where we were from and beckoning, "You must come by my shop later. Promise you will return to my shop." As inhumane as it seems, we avoided looking at what they were offering and kept walking forward. I said "no thank you" or simply "no" if they persisted and even told someone where we were from, but quickly realized it was best not to engage at all. If one person in our group bought something from one of sellers, more would come, thinking that the rest of the group would start buying also. And if I bought something from one hawker, but did not buy from another hawker, I found there could be confrontation. Another day, when I didn't buy an anklet or bracelet from a man after just buying a marble tea light from his friend, the man selling the goods looked at my recent purchase and shouted at me, "But you bought a marble tea light!"
Part of the shopping experience in India is that you have to be ready to bargain. And even after bargaining, be okay with finding what you just purchased cheaper a few stalls down. Quality and price vary from vendor to vendor, so you'll never know if you actually got the best deal. You have to be content with the price you paid and move on. Kind of like buying a house. Once you've bought your house, stop looking on Zillow - it no longer concerns you the prices of other homes because you made your choice and agreed to the price.