Pay it Forward – Arambol, India

This morning I woke up at 5am again. This has been something of a trend lately but I am not too concerned. The other day it was because I heard someone getting beaten in the fruit and vegetable store just down the way. It was an awful sound but that is what they do here to people who steal. I was sad for the man if he was just hungry and needed food. There are lots of beggars on the street hanging around food establishments so many foreigners end up buying them meals. I have a couple packets of soup I won’t be using so I aim to give those out in the next few days.

I was looking at earrings at just one of the many shops that sell imports from Nepal and Indonesia. I haven’t worn earrings for more than a decade because my body seems to reject metal. I decided to try out some of the more natural types like bone, horn, or wood. Guess what? It works! I have no irritation at all and I barely know they are there. So I picked out an exotic pair of dark horn spirals ending with what looks like a dolphin tail. When I tried to buy them the man at the shop quoted a price higher than all the money I had on me. He must have seen the disappointment on my face because his face softened and he told me to take them.

“Take them? For free?” I repeated incredulously.  Surprise quickly dissolved into suspicion and my inner skeptic challenged “What’s the catch?”

The small thin shopkeeper cocked his head to the side thoughtfully and proposed me a deal. “You can have them as long as you promise to pay it forward.” He explained that I was to double what the earrings were worth and spend that amount on food for hungry people anywhere in the world. I sat there stunned, unsure if this guy was for real. After probing a bit deeper, I learned that he was most definitely the genuine article and there were no strings attached. I agreed whole heartedly, so honored to be a part of his movement towards relieving world hunger. I tried to applaud his efforts but he wouldn’t have any of it. He cut me off mid-sentence, thanked me, then modestly disappeared back into his workshop. I wondered how many starving tummies had received relief as a result of this noble man’s initiative. Needless to say, these earrings are very special to me.

There have been no real parties here due to the upcoming election. For the past month or two, there is no music past 10pm. I admit that I am really enjoying the tame environment and early nights. I have heard that Arambol can get pretty obnoxious in high season under normal circumstances with crazy parties almost every night. Since I have arrived, it’s been peaceful and chill with the only excitement being the nightly fireworks on the beach. Every night someone or other sets off anywhere from 5 minutes to a solid half hour light show. Try as I might, I can never resist. Wherever I am, I drop everything and run to the beach to watch…just like a kid. The only exception is when I am already in bed. That’s sacred space.

Grateful for ingenuity.

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