Friday, November 7, 2008

Indian Generosity Knows No Bounds

I've had a great visit with new friends in Delhi that I've made while presenting the CedarCrestone Asia Pacific HR Systems Survey. Is there an acronym there? CAPHRSS? Darn....just doesn't role off the tongue. I will write on my observations, but what I want to write about now is the incredible generosity of so many Indians I've had contact with the last six days. Last night was exceptional and I have a little story.

If you come to India, at least once, you will go shopping. The way you do this is to arrange to have a driver who will take you to special places (identified by friends or the hotel) where the crafts are authentic and perhaps even the prices are set. Of course, haggling for an item is fun too. So last night a colleague and I set out to visit several shopping areas. I was looking for puppets for my grandchildren. Kirsten, who had had a bout of Delhi Belly all day was along for the ride. Kirsten is delightful....everyone loves her immediately. Without too much detail, I successfully haggled for some items as gifts, and then we arrived at the Cottage Industries Emporium

This is a special place that brings in handcrafts from all over India. And, as my eye was drawn first to a small Buddha head, I began to make a connection with the man helping me and he with me. I also found a Buddha head for Major. Then, I asked if they had thangkas. I spent the next minutes looking at over 50 and finally settled on an exquisite mandala type. (By the way, I am a practicing Buddhist meditator and a member of the Auburn Sanga and this gentleman too, a Buddhist). As we started to leave, he suggested that we go downstairs to their "special items". Our bodies tired, but our eyes began to sparkle as we traipsed downstairs to be met by a room full of handmade rugs, pashminas, and anything made from fabric. Oh a quilter in a room of fabric.

The frenzy begins. The first item they showed me was an embroidered coat. Unfortunately it was not in my colors but it was Kirsten's so she tried it on. It was gorgeous. The picture does not do justice to the embroidery and the feel of this silk coat. It was "only $350."
She loved it and we all encouraged her to buy it. She, however, is a single mother, living in Singapore, and had not budgeted for something like this. But, it was truly a buy of a life time but even with much encouragement, Kirsten said she could not afford it .... until next year. Here's where just one example of generosity comes in. The owner of the Emporium told her to take the coat and pay him next year! Tired sick lady she was, started to cry. He gave her the coat and trusts her to pay him. Of course she will. I cried too.

We happily with my purchases (two Buddha heads, the thangka, a patchwork runner, a little Ganesh elephant for my grandson and miscellaneous small items needing a big bag....they gave me a duffle). We tiredly returned to the hotel to go to bed.

I had started to pack when Kirsten called, saying that the store had called apologizing that they had neglected to pack the heads and the thangka. I really was tired to have not overseen the duffle packing plus all of the store people and Kirsten and I were so excited by the trust of the store owner in giving the coat to her for her to pay for later. So, then the owner comes to our hotel and delivers the gift items.

I confess that sometimes in NY and other cities with an abundance of foreign speaking taxi drivers....perhaps from Pakistan or perhaps from India...that I've not had the greatest trust. I will NEVER NEVER not trust these generous people again.

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