2nd January 2016
After a lot of procrastination, I, Veer and Jitu decided to go on a short trip. It was New year’s day. We went to Mahabaleshwar, a small hill station. On our way back, was the Table Land, in Panchgani. It’s the second-longest mountain plateau in Asia.
The plateau has a cave. We climbed down the rocky steps to reach the cave. As we walked into the cave, we felt a sudden drop in the temperature, it was much colder as if its walls were fitted with Air-conditioners.
At the entrance, was a tiny cafe. A board there, read “₹ 10 for using Camera”
The cave was a very pleasant place, with wooden tables and chairs to eat and rest. We felt very much at peace. There was one more cave beneath, to visit there one has to pay a small fee.
As we were talking about how peaceful life is away from the routine 9-6 job, we saw an old lady approaching. She must be in her 70s and was bent at her waist. I think she was the owner of the cafe.
“Hello, friends… have you read the board regarding photography?” She announced seeking the attention of the visitors.
“Please read it carefully, you can take as many snaps you want, but pay ₹10”. She added further.
I was stunned at the strong tone of voice and her fluency in English. It’s not that I underestimated her, but it was definitely an unusual view.
“…and look at our English, guys!” I said, turning to Jitu and Veer.
The lady was watching a woman take pictures; who was accompanied by her husband and a kid. They decided to visit the cave beneath, As her husband went to the ticket counter to buy tickets, the old lady asked the gentleman to also pay the fee for using a camera.
“I haven’t taken any pictures here, what should I pay for?” argued the gentleman.
“Your wife has taken a few snaps, I have seen it!” She exclaimed to the gentleman.
The gentleman refused again. Realising that he isn’t ready to pay, she turned to the person at the counter and said – “IF HE GIVES, TAKE. ELSE LEAVE”
Owing to the fact that Panchgani was used by the British during the British Raj as a summer resort, “She must have worked for a British officer during the pre-independence period” I concluded.
It was funny to see how their external appearances contrasted their actual personalities.
One may be earning more than enough, but still, takes pride in bargaining with that vegetable-seller over 10 bucks. But those 10 bucks mean so much to them. Because they don’t earn to become rich, they earn to live!
So, the next time you are buying something from the roadside sellers, avoid bargaining (of course unless they are charging you exorbitantly!) and drop in a few extra coins if you can. The people around may think you are a fool for paying extra, but that should be fine, no?