The steep fall in rents has led to the decision to move to Dubai after a long stay in Sharjah. I was reassured by my Dubai-an (or should it be ‘dubious') friends that it was a case of better late than never.

There were plenty of other comments, but the underlying message was the same: this was a sensible choice as it would cut down on commuting time and energy expended.

It is hard to close one's eyes to the fact that this is a time when rents in Sharjah are dropping drastically and it is truly a renter's market. Now I can afford to live anywhere I want in this emirate. But the time has come to move on. Or so I reassure myself, bolstered by people telling me with great conviction that the time is ripe.

They ask me what my budget is and when I reveal all, they say with great confidence that I will easily find something in that range. Each of them tells me that there are scores of vacant flats and ‘to let' signs on every second building, so I should have the upper hand.

I am not sure if fate had a hand in what transpired later but I definitely didn't find real estate agents falling over each other in their haste to secure my patronage. In fact, what I experienced was a take it or leave it attitude. And, more often than not, I had to leave as the amount quoted was unreasonable and there seemed to be no room for compromise.

I know my bargaining powers are not of the highest order but surely there should be some give and take in the clinching of any deal? All I faced was a wooden expression as the party with whom I was supposed to negotiate turned a deaf ear to all my offers.

Hadn't someone told me that I should start the process by offering at least Dh5,000 less than the asking price? If the person who had given me that bit of advice had been anywhere near at the time, he would have regretted his impulse to be helpful.

Rude awakening

My reduced offer was met with blatant scorn and disbelief and I was made to feel that I was living in la-la land. This wasn't the reaction I was expecting and moreover not the one I was prepared for. So what was my next step?

Should I persevere in my ploy to get the best rate or should I gather the remnants of pride left behind after that rude awakening and make for the door? I suppose it all depended on how desperate I was to make the move.

The waiting game began as the two of us tried to outstare the other. Fortunately for the real estate agent I was in no mood to play games. Changing my tone from demanding to demeaning, I almost pled for mercy. Seeing me reduced to such a state must have melted even this stone-hearted man as he quickly came up with a counter offer which I grabbed without hesitation. ‘Don't think, don't think', I kept telling myself, ‘just grab and run'.

I made a quick exit, consoling myself with the fact that I had tried my best. That was all one could do.

As I made my way home, my mind kept replaying the bargaining fiasco.

This time I couldn't blame anyone else. Men, or women for that matter, sometimes are masters of their fate. At least that's what Cassius would have Brutus believe.

The fault, dear reader, lies not in my stars, but in myself. I suppose I can console myself with the thought that thankfully my job description doesn't include the power of persuasion.