Our temporary driver, S.K. (photo below) is a very experienced professional. He's probably about 45, and has been driving for quite some time. He is a devoted employee, very knowledgeable about where things are located and where things can be found... and very protective of his passengers.
SK found out I was thinking about getting some business cards. This was on my mind since we now have signed a lease and have an actual address here. We also have a family cell phone so it now made sense for me to get a box of cards.... especially since people keep giving me their cards and I have nothing but a dazed grin to give them in return. SK said... "Dont worry sir. I know a good marrrket we can get them." So off we went to a local Noida Market (see the new "Swimming-in-India" banner above to get the picture of this place).
We parked on the street and after inquiring at a few street-front shops SK led me down a tight alleyway. (photo above). The alley got narrower and dingier. SK made a few more inquiries at a small stall. We went on and made an abrupt right turn down an enclosed alley way with no power. It looked like a scene from Blade Runner. Open fire, darkened stalls lit by candles. Water on the broken concrete floor. Rubbish everywhere.
We walked to the end of the alley and a voice in Hindi called out from a dark stall. The man lit a candle (this really happened) and emerged from darkeness. SK and he exchanged words and he pulled out a stack of business card samples from beneath a ratty little table to show me. After a bit of haggling, gestures and broken English we settled on a format, colors, font and price... Rs 450 (about $9 for 500 hand printed pieces.) Rs 100 deposit and the deal was done. 3 hours later SK and I returned to proof the card on the street (again, refer to the new photo on the "Swimming-In-India" banner for a visual) and the cards were done.
My sense is this is a normal transaction here in India.