We did well. We went to some shops on a main street in Delhi, India, and I found some gifts to bring home. I found a new wallet for Sandy which was reasonably priced; I bought a couple of small jewelry cases for my granddaughter, Katie, which were just a couple of dollars. I thought I was done.
Our quest was really focused on a cane for my travelling buddy, Wayne. Wayne collects canes and had a specific type of cane in mind. He’d heard about a cane in India where they start with a piece of wood and laminate it with camel bone. So far, we hadn’t been able to find one. Then a street vendor who was selling maps told us to follow him, and he would take us to a place where we might find what we were looking for. Usually the street vendors are not that helpful as they need to sell their own wares to make a living. This man was different; he told us it was a five-minute walk and we would be there.
The walk was a lot more than five minutes, and it didn’t appear to be in a business area. It was a bit concerning. At one point, Wayne and I said to each other, “Let’s just go back to the taxi,” but the vendor encouraged us to keep walking. I was enjoying it because we were walking in the old city, and it was very interesting. I took a picture of a man using a coal iron. You heat up coal, and that is what you use as heat for ironing. There was washing everywhere; in fact, there were hundreds of white towels hanging everywhere. There was a vegetable market on the side of the street.
People were friendly. When I asked if I could take a picture, there was no issue. I enjoyed the walk, and the weather was beautiful, like a spring day in Canada. The air was refreshing, and you could see blue sky overheard (this is certainly not always the case in this area).
We eventually got to the market; the map seller disappeared, and he asked for nothing. Wayne was excited that they had the type of cane he wanted, so he started to negotiate. That was another interesting part of the whole experience! I had no interest in the cane so I bought a few small cases with stone inlaid in them and a carved elephant; they were small gifts at a low cost, and I didn’t really bargain because they were already inexpensive.
I was done. I thought, “I got off easy! This was inexpensive.” (This is not always the case when I do these excursions! Sometimes I get carried away because of the atmosphere and the excitement of the perceived bargain.) I was waiting for Wayne, and a man said, “Come and talk to me for a minute.” I should have said no, but I didn’t. In I went. Jewelry, according to him, was the way to your wife’s heart. He had a lot of jewelry, and he was very convincing! He liked to bargain so it was a whole different atmosphere. When Wayne had purchased his cane, he came in thinking he was coming in to rescue me. He didn’t rescue me; we both ended up purchasing something for our wives! It was moderately priced so I was no longer getting out of there with little spent. (The jewelry was beautiful, and Sandy liked what I bought so it was worth it.) But it didn’t stop there. We had no idea there was another floor in the building! Down the stairs we went, into another world.
There, the vendors knew they had us. On the way down, I told them we were only going down the stairs if we got a cup of coffee. They got us a cup of coffee. They took us into a room and told us to sit down. We were now in the land of Kashmir carpets. They started by showing us how they were made and then rolled out every size they had: big ones were in the thousands of dollars. The way they presented themselves and their carpets drew you in and made you feel as though you had to have one. We were enjoying ourselves. Wayne enjoys the art of deal making and working with them to get a fair deal. It took half an hour, but we made the deal … not for one but for two beautiful rugs. I never imagined I would have a real Kashmir rug, but I have one now. Once again, that was not the end.
The rugs had to be packaged and that took another 20 minutes. They sewed the rugs into gunny sack material so we could hand carry them on the plane, which we did.
The whole experience was delightful! When we finished with the carpets, there was nowhere else to go, and they happily let us leave the store. We got in a motorized, three-wheel rickshaw and went back to the taxi. We were happy; they were happy. From there we went and enjoyed our last Indian meal: spicy buttered chicken, hot buttered naan and rice. It was a great day! I am so thankful to the team in Delhi who made this excursion possible.
Very often when I travel, it is all business; however, as I get older, I try to take time to do more than just business. I try to take time to enjoy and learn about the culture. God has created a vast world, full of beauty, variety and evidence of his glory! It is a privilege to see parts of it for myself and to meet people of so many different cultures. But the most
important thing to me is that I have the great privilege of serving the Lord and being used by him to share his message.
My time in India was certainly one to remember. From the people I met, to the ministry I saw taking place and even to the experiences of the marketplace, all are gifts from God, and I treasure them all.