I almost bought a baby. Not on purpose. I didn't know I was bargaining for a baby at the moment. I didn't even know I was trying to buy a baby until I walked away from the market stand and my friends told me.
In Lusaka, Zambia there is a big crafts sale every Sunday in a place called Sunday Market. They have lots of wood carvings, paintings, jewelry, and many other crafts. Everything there is overpriced. I happened to be there the other day and I was walking around practicing my haggling skills. I didn't actually want to buy anything, but I wanted to figure out what a reasonable price for some of the items were so when I return in the future I won't get overcharged.
The last market stand I went to was operated by a man who had his young daughter with him. As I was looking at his wares with my friends, his daughter was following us around. She was probably about one year old. We would ask the price of some items in the local language by saying "Zingati?" After we decided we weren't going to buy anything we started walking away and the little girl was following us. Her father chased after her and we were smiling, so I asked him how old she was. You ask how old someone is by saying, "Zaka zingati?" Pretty similar right?
So I said, "Zaka zingati?" and pointed at the child. I could have swore he replied, "No. One and a half." It's common for some people to say "No" or "Yes" when they are replying to something here, so that fact that he led with that didn't phase me. Next he went on saying some other things about how he wouldn't trade with me for anything, so I just smiled and nodded since I didn't really understanding what was going on. After we walked away my friend looked at me and said, "Ed, you just tried to buy that baby from him."
Me: "No, I didn't."
Friend: "He thought you were."
Me: "Uh, why?"
Friend: "I heard you say 'Zaka', but I don't think he heard you say 'Zaka'. Then he said, 'No, it is the only one I have.'"
Me: "Ohh... I was wondering why he said I wouldn't trade with me for anything."
I think the most unnerving part of this story is that the man didn't really have a look of concern on his face when he thought I was trying to buy his child. He was just really casual about it. It made me wonder if I can come back next year to see if he has had another daughter so I can buy one of them. I mean, I won't do that, but it's still nice to know the option is there in case I change my mind.