I felt sorry for the boy, and embarrassed for Chris’s behaviour. The anger grew in me as the oral fight between them continued to a point where I couldn’t bear it anymore. Those words coming from Sandra Roxendal who wants to share this story from traveling in India and hope she can spread an understanding and respect for the locals.
When travelling, especially in Asian countries, we’ve all been stuck in situations surrounded by salesmen, tuk-tuk drivers or shop owners who is chasing you down a spiral of insanity with their constant never ending selling techniques in desperation to keep a growing business. They often come across as highly annoying and we rather keep them at an arm-length distance as smoothly as possible to avoid unnecessary scams.
During my travels I have come to grow an understanding for these people. I think it’s important to acknowledge every individual as who the are, not for what they do. To acknowledge their background and realise that not everyone are as fortunate. That some people are forced into a certain life situation not because they want to, but because they have no other option. There was one day in Hampi, a small hippy town in the southern inland parts of India, where this came as a bigger realisation to me.
We were at the beach which is what we called the 1 metre square of sand next to the lake. A local boy came around carrying a box with a selection of cold drinks and a plastic bag with chips and cookies trying to make simple business. We knew him from before and he greeted me by my name as he was approaching us.
”You have my 70 rupees?” Was the first thing my friend Chris asked him as he got close enough.
He was referring to yesterday’s event; the local boy had been running towards us just as we were leaving because Chris hadn’t paid for his water. He gave him a 100 rupees note and the boy went back to the lake to fix up some change. It was raining quite heavily at this stage so we didn’t wait for him to come back.
”Yesterday is yesterday, today is today” the local boy replied
”What do you mean? I gave you a hundred yesterday and you never came back”
”I come back with change you not there”
”I was standing in the rain, waiting”
”I come back you not there what I do?”
The conversation between them soon evolved into an voice raising, word spitting argument.
”Have no money here, I go fix change and I come back”, the poor boy offered pointing at the direction of the nearest shop, but it wasn’t good enough for Chris who was convinced that the boy was lying just to be able to run away with his money.
”If you won’t give me my money, I’ll have this”, Chris said as he picked up a bag of chips from the plastic bag the salesman was carrying.
”Anyone want some chips?”
Soon bags of chips and cookies where lying all over the ground after having the plastic bag ripped apart in an desperate way to get on each others nerves. Using a language that got strongly affected by their bad temper they’re both revealing themselves from throwing the first punch.
”You’re lucky you’re a tourist. If you was local I kill you”
I felt sorry for the boy, and embarrassed for Chris’s behaviour. The anger grew in me as the oral fight between them continued to a point where I couldn’t bear it anymore.
”Chris, just leave it. It’s 2 dollars for you”, I said as I stood up next to them. ”I’ll give you the 70 rupees if it’s that important”.
They both looked at me as I spoke, and remained quiet for a moment. Chris was the first one to speak.
”Look what you’ve done”, he said to the local boy quietly before sitting down, as if he was the one turning me against him.
I wish that more people would see what Chris didn’t see in this boy. To look beyond the shell of a sales person to the true person within. To realise that we’re all worth the same no matter in what culture we grew up. This boy rely his life upon this simple business of his, like many others do in his situation. A business that my friend Chris had no respect for.
It’s probably not their choice of career, but with a poor background that give them no opportunity for an equal education they’re forced to fight for a way to support their family. And they make it work. As foreigners we enter their land and their country as a guest and they open their arms, their homes, their hearts for us.
The least we can do in return is to show them our respect. Before the local boy left I gave him a 100 rupees note and apologised for Chris’s behaviour. It’s 3 dollars for me, but for him it means the world.