Saturday, November 11, 2006

Ugenie beats Darya Ganj

I studied at SGTB Khalsa college, University of Delhi (DU) during my bachelors. A lot of people did not hold DU in that great an esteem for technical or engineering studies. But I would say I was blessed to have spent 4 years in DU. The reason why I liked DU was that somehow, the structure of the courses was such that left you a lot of time to a lot of others things.

For me, the extra time was primarily spent in taking tutions ($pocketmoney$), having long rounds of debates, discussions and dumb charades at International Student's Hostel (ISH), watching HBO (yes, during those days, HBO programming would beat Star Movies by a mile and a half) and reading books.

Of all the things mentioned above, the last activity was particularly expensive. From the 3 maths tutions I would take, I only earned Rs. 750 (later on I used to get Rs. 1050) and a good part of it was spent on canteens and eatouts in the campus. So, exchanging books with friends and using the library to the maximum became the norm. In spite of the all these arrangements, the craving to browse through a book market and picking up a not-so-popular but interesting read remained.

It is this gap that Darya Ganj Sunday Book Market used to fill up. It was a market held every Sunday on the stretch between Ambedkar Stadium and Jama Masjid and used to primarily sell books. These wouold be run down second hand books that could not be sold from the normal used book shops. These were bought for a pittance by the hawkers and used to be exhibited/sold at the Darya Ganj market.

The price at which you bought these books was directly propotional to the bargain you could drive and it was always a pleasure to negotiate out a good book. It was here that I went down to hunt for Bjarne Stroustrup's "The C++ Programming Language" second edition. I couldn't find the second edition, but found a good condition first edition (List price. Rs 220 or so) copy. The price of a brand new latest edition was Rs. 350 in the market and this guy quoted this for Rs. 80. I started bargaining at Rs. 20 and we finally closed the deal at Rs. 40. I handed him a Rs. 100 note and since he did not have change, he accepted the Rs. 34 that I had as change. So, I bought it for Rs. 34 or $0.75.

That was in 2000 and now, in 2006, I work for Ugenie, the next generation shopping comparison engine. I thought it might be worth checking out the price of the same through our site and see what I get. Surprise of surprises, I found it at $0.38!! Of course, that is exclusive of shipping, but neither did I pay any shipping during my purchase. This is the first time in my life that I have seen somebody quoting a lower price than quoted by Darya Ganj.

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