Naim, Goodwin Emmanuel and the soft-spoken gentleman with a gravely voice, who didn't give his name, seemed to typify how every South African wants to score with this World Cup.
Playing his India card, Naim, 29, who is from Surat and moved here 16 years ago, offered on the sly to better everything Emmanuel offered by way of accommodation and transport. On the phone as he took a group of Indian journalists around Johannesburg, Naim repeatedly told groups seeking his company's buses that he would better the “best offer they got by 10 to 20 per cent”. Ditto the gentleman offering “the best accommodation you could get near Soccer City. My rates are negotiable, you tell me what you've got and I'll better that,” he said.
And even as he tells you he is telling it like it is Emmanuel reportedly charged twice the going rate for a hotel room on a twin sharing basis. Nothing that's safe here is available for less than $80 (Rs 3750) per head, he said. He also dissuades us from buying phone cards, available at $110 (Rs 5200), from the airport, saying he would get them for $45 (Rs 2100).
Cabbies too are looking to make a killing from anyone who looks like a visitor to these parts and that's when the typical Indian ability to haggle stands you in good stead. Seventy rand seems like a good deal for a drive from Kensington to Soccer City before the mini-van owner, realising he could lose out on possible income, revises his rate from 900 rand (Rs 5400) to 200 rand (Rs 1200).
A Bloomberg report in February estimated that the Cup would up the country's GDP by 0.5 per cent as an estimated 450,000 visitors are expected to be here for the month-long extravaganza. Who would have thought such immediate corroboration would be got.