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Indian Honest Rickshaw-wala
Pravin Vaghani (Photo by Unusha Vaghani)
A Touch of Honesty
India, A Country of Diversity
(This is a True Story)
India is a very vast country and very unique in the combination of diverse culture, religious beliefs, languages and food habits all under one umbrella. Outside of India very few people really know about ‘whole’ of India and so the views and concepts vary from person to person depending upon from which angle they have the knowledge about India.
One very widely known opinion about India is that there is corruption at every level of the society and the government and that the honest people are very difficult to find, if they can be found at all. Not only the visitors or travelers but the Indian themselves are ready to tell you enthusiastically the stories of their experiences in India to corroborate their beliefs. It may therefore sound a paradox if one tells about the ‘pleasant and happy ending’ tales of encounter with the Indians of lower category who are socially and economically at the bottom end of ‘money only minded’ structure of the society.
In February, 1992, I was on a business trip and staying at a hotel in a small town in Rajasthan. Cycle rickshaws, pedal driven, were the only means of transport to go around the town. A few rickshaws would be waiting outside the hotel. You go and ask there. Although they don’t stand in a line, they have pretty good mutual understanding amongst themselves. I have never seen them fighting. Whoever is in turn will come forward. In those days, these rickshawwala may be earning about Rs.50.00(A$1.50) in a day which at the end of the day will help him to buy grocery to feed the family during the next 24 hours.
Now, as per my doctor’s recommendation I had to walk a few kilometers every day. To measure the distance I walked I had a ‘Pedometer’ with me which I used to clip on my belt. That day morning, after breakfast, I had gone out for a walk. Then removed the pedometer and put it in my pocket. After that I went out for my business work. In the evening, when I wanted to go for a walk, I looked for the pedometer. It was not in my pocket. I could not find it anywhere. It may have dropped out of my pocket when I must have taken something out of the pocket or it may have slipped out when I was sitting somewhere. I had been to so many places during the day that there was no use even guessing where I may have dropped it.
Next day after getting ready I went to get a rickshaw. While I was talking to a rickshawala about where I wanted to go, another fellow came near me and asked me if I had lost my mobile. I had no mobile so I said I did not lose anything. Then, without showing me, he went on to describe the mobile which he had found in his rickshaw yesterday, which sounded like the description of my pedometer, and added that yesterday I was the only person he had picked up from this hotel and thought it must belong to me. So I said, yes I did lose something yesterday and told him what it was. Smilingly he pulled out the pedometer from his pocket and handed it over to me.
Does Honesty Have A Price ?
I offered him Rs.100.00 as reward for his honesty, which he first refused to take saying, ‘he is a god-fearing person and his honesty does not have a price,’ but accepted only after much pleading him and my saying, ‘please accept it as a gift to buy toys for your child.’
Later, another rickshawwala told me that that person was offered Rs.500.00(his ten days earning) for that gadget, but he wanted to try and find the rightful owner, and if nobody claimed it, then only he will take advantage of that offer.
Who are we to judge a person by his look, or what he does for a living or where he lives ?