Monthly Archives: March 2012

Alice in VintageLAND or Once Upon a Time in VERNISAJ


My special thanks to George and Konstantin for taking me to this incredible world 🙂

I’ve had a three-hour adventure at the miraculous land called Vernisaj today. Vernisaj is a bazaar in the center of our city. Every weekend sellers from all the parts of the country come to this place to sell EVERYTHING that can be BOUGHT! These, as a rule, are ancient handmade carpets, bags, paintings, ceramic pots and vases, books, animals, tools (from medical to mechanic), clothes, accessories, jewelry, national souvenirs  and so on and so forth. Thus, if you have no plans on your weekend, Vernisaj is the right place to visit.

The sellers of Vernisaj made a deep impression on me! The prodigious ambition of selling their goods gifts them with a divine ability of speaking any language that is needed. I am serious! Just try to look at something, and you are sentenced to acquire all the information referring to that definite product in several languages. Each buyer is individually approached. By saying individually, I mean INDIVIDUALLY! The same product can change its aim, price, age and features from language to language and from customer to customer.

The buyers of Vernisaj seem very patriotic judging from the goods they sell. However, their patriotism disappears the moment they see a TOURIST. I really don’t want to sound too sarcastic and rude, but they HUNT for the tourists. Their mood, their attitude, the expression of their eyes and even their posture changes when a tourist approaches their territory. They torture the poor foreigner by demonstrating every single item at the store. Sometimes, the only salvation from the remorseless sellers is buying something.

Some sellers happen to be more shifty than the others. They organize tiny shows for the customers. One such entertainer was a man demonstrating the unbelievable features of a glass cutting tool. This reminded me of an American TV SHOP (that sells knives called Miracle Blade), when you can’t help admiring the incredibility of the product you are NEVER going to buy.

Another funny and enjoyable thing about this piece of Heaven called Vernisaj is the bargaining process. There is an unwritten law to “ALWAYS BARGAIN! THE POSSIBILITY THAT YOU’LL SUCCEED IS RATHER BIG!” The prices in Vernisaj are very flexible. You just need to follow some rules to make a good purchase:

  1. When you like something, don’t show your admiration immediately. This reduces your chances of buying it at a low price.
  2. After knowing the price, make a surprised face. This is always relevant, as the first price is always high. The seller will immediately tell you the second price.
  3. Offer him your price; do not forget to stay adequate 🙂
  4. He will disagree and will tell you the third price, which, as a rule, will not differ much from the one you offered and will suit you.
  5. The product is yours 😉

If you are not planning to buy more products from that store, be quick to leave the place, once you get your purchase. Otherwise, you will be forced to learn what ELSE you could buy from the store.

As a lucky non-tourist I was able to stay in the shadow during my walk. It gave me the possibility to look around, enjoy the funny situations I witnessed, overhear the conversations of others and feel the colors and energy of my homeland.

P.S. I really liked this tiny land called Vernisaj and I really admired the energetic and ambitious “polyglots”. I wish them good luck in their business and I wish our Government provided better conditions for these people to work in. 

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Filed under Reminiscences