16 Feb Saying Thank You: Live From India to my Followers in Torbay
Image of Jaipur, India – Copyright: donyanedomam / 123RF Stock Photo
Kindness, acceptance and compassion to all people and towards self; this is the magical message India is giving me. If we were all looking into our soul’s mirror we would agree.
An unexpected incident happened to me, an epiphany in Jaipur, from where I am writing (technology is a wonderful tool).
I was in a sari store and a group of people were aggressively haggling a trader (expected and, some would say, fun); however, witnessing their behaviour, verging on the rude and ridiculous, made me sad and uncomfortable and I began to question whether this stance is necessary when it’s someone’s livelihood. The hagglers looked financially comfortable and, worse, seemed to be enjoying their bullying.
Not knowing fully why, this had a deep impact upon me. I was feeling sick to my stomach, cold (it was sunny and warm), distant and unsettled. I felt something was carrying me along after being hit by a car and I drifted to a store a few doors along, enticed in by a pleasant scent; it made me feel calm and still. The young walla (store-man) identified the aroma as lotus and produced a box, inviting me to smell. Bingo. I said I’d like the large box containing 120 incense sticks. And so my journey began.
The walla was in his early 20’s and gently spoken but it was obvious he was educated more than most wallas as he had a higher level command of English. The response I was meant to make to his offering of 650 was to halve it and then haggle him to a reasonable price close to the minimum. “Don’t feel bad as they EXPECT this sport!” was what every article said and this advice is sound as most wallas hike the price by up to 50% to cover costs.
The serving person in the store was smiling, a reassurance that their bartering is in good humor. Our guide is from New York and very knowledgeable about Indian culture having lived there for 25 years. She had explained how the bartering is sometimes uncomfortable but cultural socialisation encourages people from India to make money from something and, no matter how hungry, they will refuse money without doing something for it; charity is not humbling in this gracious society.
I said to the walla, “500!”
He said, “What? Sorry sir.”
I said, “I’ll take them for 500 (they are sold in the supermarket for 40). I said to the confused but smiling walla, “I’m not green or silly, I’m being kind. Get your family a nice meal and I will light these 120 times and enjoy every one through the months to come.”
“Thank you,” he said as he wrapped the incense in cardboard, depositing it in a striped carrier bag (without a 5p charge). He passed it to me and, feeling happy, I left…but I had a tug on my arm. I turned and with a serene, beautiful smile the walla said, “No, I am not saying thank you for the money sir. I’m saying thank you for your words, what you said to me. This is so very important.”
I could not help but well up with tears, as did he. It was a deep, magical and mutually appreciative moment I could never have expected. What beauty.
“I am not saying thank you for the money sir. I’m saying thank you for your words, what you said to me.”
How do you react when you’re in pain? Do you resist it, ignore it or push it away? Do you get consumed? Would you like to learn a more healing, compassionate way to respond? To be alive means we feel happiness, joy, sorrow, and pain. Most of us want to feel happiness and the other positive feelings, but pain? Not so much! Pain, though, is a natural part of life.
Most people, knowingly or not, are in emotional or physical pain. Compassion starts with the self and brims over to others, naturally. Giving, being considered and compassionate gives so much back… It heals by having passion, purpose and connection with other. Try this week to do someone an out of the way kindness and see the reward. People who become ill become consumed and forget these practices. My work is to help get people unstuck again so they can experience this healthy balance.