Doing a Good Deed in Delhi

While traveling, and it should apply to not traveling too, I try to do something helpful on a daily basis.  It doesn’t matter how meager or grand it is.  It’s just nice to make a contribution to the human race.  By doing something, anything, it keeps the consistency and mindfulness going.

I sometimes think: If everyone tried to focus on doing one daily altruistic deed, the world would be even better than it already is.

Like in India, there’s poverty and desperation everywhere on earth.  But, on the subcontinent, it’s more noticeable than anywhere I’ve been.

A helpful deed can take any form your imagination can muster up. It can be spontaneous or planned. You might help a person lug something off of a bus, provide a kid with a pen, pose in or snap a photo, make a kind comment, open yourself up with a smile, or hook someone up with food.  The list could be infinite.

Giving people food is something I did almost everyday in India.  I wasn’t always hungry enough to finish what I was eating.  It was almost always easy to find someone who’d be happy to finish food for me.  On the rare occasion when there wasn’t a person to give to, I’d find a cow, monkey or stray dog that was more than happy to devour whatever it was that I had left.

Often, if I saw someone who looked hungry, especially a child, I’d offer to buy them a portion of inexpensive street food.  Sometimes I even let them choose something of their choice.

After a random gastronomic donation to a person, I’d often get a thank you infused with a look of pleasant surprise.

While drifting through Delhi’s Pahar Ganj district on my final morning in India, a man walking past happened to catch my eye.  He causally asked for something.  I stopped for clarification.  He was thirsty for a cup of chai.   I thought: I’d love a cup myself.

Show me where we can get a cup of chai.”

He walked me to an omelet sandwich and chai stand where I recalled sipping chai months before in the sultry summer heat.  He looked skinny so I asked if he’d like a sandwich.  The man was obviously hungry so his answer was a no brainer.

We sat and had a cup of tasty Indian tea while shooting the cool, early morning breeze.  In his limited English he explained that he was from Pushkar and needed bus fare to get there.

For many reasons, I couldn’t give this man money.  A one-time monetary handout isn’t sustainable.  It’s not going to motivate him to try to conjure up a way to earn something. Giving away cash just feel tacky.

I can’t give you money but I’m happy that we were able to talk and drink chai.  That omelet sandwich looks good.  I wish you the best.  Namaste.”

Thank you.  Thank you very much.”

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The idea for this post came while viewing a photo on  Sarah is sitting next to an eccentric-looking man who’s sporting a long gray beard.  It reminded me a little bit of the photo above and that short episode on my last day in Delhi.


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