I am standing on the side of the road with a travel companion Monica. We have managed to give some rickshaw drivers the slip by walking across a debris-strewn yard where their wheels cannot travel. We have just popped on the road we haven’t been detected yet. I look down the street. There is a little old lady. She is trying to flag down a rickshaw. She has Rupees in her hand to pay. There are 2 young boys sitting looking at her and her little pile of firewood that she has gathered. They will not pick her up. I see this and watch for a second. Monica is doing the same. She has this expression on her face. Why don’t those bastards pick her up she must be 100 years old. I recognize this expression. It is the same one as on my face.
We are slowly walking towards her. After a few seconds the rickshaw drivers leave her. They haven’t seen us yet. I walk up to this dejected old lady. She has clearly been working hard collecting firewood. I really feel for her. As I approach I smile. She smiles back a toothless grin a little sad. I wave my arm in the air. “Rickshaw” instantly rickshaws appear. I pick the first one to arrive. I ask him why he hasn’t taken this lady home. He says she is too poor. I look at her hand. She has enough rupees to go just about anywhere in Agra. What he means to say is that he would rather get more money from a white tourist. I tell him he will take this lady where she wants to go. He says no I will take you where you want to go. I grab her pile of wood and load the rickshaw. I tell the little guy that this is my mother and if she doesn’t get home safe I am coming looking for him. The little old lady is smiling, hands together thanking me. The driver with some argument agrees, not happy but obliged. Out of sight of the driver I gave her a couple extra rupees just in case.
I never knew if she arrived where she was going, was I a foolish tourist?
That is India for you.