Monday, September 22, 2008

Indian Helping Hands

Every time my classmates and I run into trouble with a taxi or auto-rickshaw, it seems that a concerned Indian citizen will just happen to be nearby and ask, "Are you having a problem?" Afterwhich, they will take the time and trouble on themselves to help us. It's an amazing gesture which I never fail to appreciate deeply.

Last weekend on my birthday, Becky and I had arrived at the Infinity Mall with a taxi meter reading of 99 Rupees, almost double that of the Zoe and Katy's rick, which had left with us. A gentleman in his fifties stopped to ask about our troubles which we promptly explained to him. Though I didn't understand what was being exchanged in Hindi between him and the driver, he told us to wait in the rickshaw. Very promptly a policeman arrived and, on hearing the situation, sternly ordered the rickshaw driver to pay us back 40 rupees of the 100 I gave him. With the problem settled, the Indian gentleman wished us a good evening.

Another time, I was finding no success in hailing an auto-rickshaw to take me home from the Inorbit Mall (the distance being far too nominal). Two gentlemen, who had just stepped out of their own auto-rickshaw, asked me where I wanted to go, and after hearing the driver object to my destination, simply dropped a handful of rupees into his hand so he would take me home. They, also, modestly wished me well and went on their way.

Even on my first weekend in downtown Mumbai, I was asking an ordinary woman for directions to the Churchgate station, when we nearly got run over by another woman who had just exited a fitness club in her car, but was clearly wanting to help me.

These are the moments that come to my mind when I think of Mumbai. It's not Bollywood stars like Kirron Kher who have kept my faith in India intact, but people like these who are willing to help a stranger in trouble.