Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful in India :: Our Guide Sharma

When we first arrived in Delhi it was just after midnight. We had been traveling all day, we were tired and all we wanted to do was sleep. At the airport, we grabbed a cab to our hotel that was part of some kind of hustle. The cabby did bring us to our hotel, but when we got there his (large) friend was standing outside to tell my husband that the hotel was full and we could not stay there. Same thing happened at the second hotel, and then off to a third hotel that was at least 3x the cost of what we booked and it was filthy. We were just too tired to fight it. We pulled out clean t-shirts from our bags, covered the pillows and slept on top of the bed. 

The next day we headed off to find a tour guide, and we could tell there was yet another bit of hustle happening. But a stroke of luck matched us up with a guy named Sharma. He was good to us, watched out for us and gave us good advice throughout our time with him. He became like family to us and he took to calling my mother-in-law "Mom."

Sharma had a different way of looking at things. Life through a different lens. I told his story about running over a farmer's chicken. And he negotiated what he thought was a fair deal by paying the farmer 30x over for the chicken. His rationale was that this chicken would lay eggs and have other chickens and thus cost the farmer much more over the course of time.

There was another time when we had been off looking at the Taj Mahal and when we returned to the car Sharma was getting his ears cleaned. Yep, I said his ears cleaned. I found this so incredibly odd. And asked Sharma why he'd pay someone to do that? He said because his ears needed cleaning, and that this man needed a job, that cleaning ears was this man's job, and that we all have our own roles to play. Sharma felt we should follow this balance in life. Wow was that profound for a simple ear cleaning with a Q-tip swab.

Then there was the story about the network of kids following us around with a picture of us on an elephant. Sharma helped us find piece and quiet that day. He had seen me tell the boy not to take the picture of us. But Sharma also told us when the fun was over. And that the cost (at the end of the day) would simply repay them for the cost of the film. To Sharma that was simply the right thing to do. You see, Sharma was right there with us on our adventures.

Sharma has a good job as a driver for a tourist company driving people like us around India. He told us his dream was to be able to own his own car and run his own company. So that he could support his wife and daughter who live in a small village, and whom he sends money home to. Right before we parted ways with Sharma, I handed Sharma a $100 bill that I had been holding on to. My mother had given it to me to buy a nice souvenir to bring home. I just couldn't think of anything better to do with that money then to give it to Sharma. I was surprised by his response as he seemed so taken aback. My mother-in-law explained later that I had given him something akin to 2 month's salary with that tip. Ok, now I was taken aback. Shocking how little money people live on in India. But it also made me realize how hard it would be for Sharma to earn enough money to buy his own car. I was happy to help him; in what I felt was a small way. Sharma was a big part of our having an amazing trip through India, and I wish him a lifetime of happiness.


Jacquelineand.... said...

He sounds like a wonderful, caring man and your gift is sure to have made a big difference in the lives of he and his family.

Duni said...

I loved reading about your guide Sharma! Very entertaining especially the ear cleaning part ;-)
Giving him the money was so very kind and thoughtful of you - hope he realizes his dream eventually :)

memoriesforlifescrapbooks said...

That was so kind of you to help Sharma out. He sounds like a very nice man who helped make your trip very memorable. I'm sure he'll remember you forever as well :)

Christine Altmiller said...

2 months salary, and for Americans it is souvenir $. It doesn't get more profound than that.

BeadedTail said...

Sharma's attitude is something we could all learn something from. He sounds like a wonderful person and I have no doubt he put your generous tip to very good use!

Plowing Through Life (Martha) said...

What a nice story. He sounds like a really good man. And I'm sure he was stunned and thrilled by your generosity.

Nicole Buckingham said...

beautiful post. How lucky you were to have your paths cross if but for a moment.

Stopping by to say "aloha" from An Aloha Affair and to invite you to join us this week. We are now live and are ready to mingle. I can't wait to see what else you've been up to this week.


Caron Michelle said...

One small act of kindness and have such an impact - thank you for sharing x

m.e. said...

Your travel entries are so wonderful to read.
I can see many photos and read all about distant places in the usual travel guides.
But,what really makes a place come alive are the people.
This post helped me see a bit of the soul of India.
Thank you ,m.e. :)

Miss Val's Creations said...

Sharma sounds like the perfect guide for India. I love the philosophy he has with supporting his fellow man. He must have taught you so much about their unique culture! It must have felt so good to give him that $100 bill. He will never forget you guys! It amazes me too how little people earn in India.

Anonymous said...

Wow...what a powerful story! Things like this really make you wonder what is wrong with Americans? We have everything and complain at the drop of a hat. We really need to think twice a lot more frequently and realize that we are so lucky!

Kashmira said...

That is one very big hearted guy! I hope his good karma paid off (it already did with that $100 bill!) enough to get him that car!

Shaiha said...

I just love Sharma's attitude towards life. It is something that we could all learn from. I am glad that you helped him towards realizing his dream.

AntiquityTravelers on Etsy