Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Honesty in a phosphor glow

Honesty in a phosphor glow... an answered prayer in Rajasthan

By Ken LaRive

I looked down from my 8th floor window from the best hotel Rajasthan had to offer, while throngs of people prepared for the heat of day.

I felt a dread however, and thought I don’t usually pray for anything but to give thanks, this day I felt to pray for guidance.

Two hours later I was on my way up a narrow gorge in an auto-rickshaw with my friend and guide Kishor, to explore and photograph a well known Jaipour palace.
Between the trees I composed a rare photo in my mind and asked them to pull over. Kishor thought I was going to take it from the street, but I jumped a low wall and then another for the proper angle, with a ruined temple for the foreground.

It was later in the day I discovered that I had lost my billfold, so strategically tucked in my camera bag, and thought the worse... someone had lifted it. Not only was most of my money in that billfold, but the most precious to a traveler, my Passport.

For the next twenty-four hours, hotel security contacted the American Embassy, and police reports too, all to document what was necessary to secure an exit visa in Mumbai, five days of red tape.

Next morning I woke up with a thought, and before dawn and the human mass assembled on the streets, we made our way back to the only place I could remember I may have dropped it, without Kishor’s watchful eye.

Still dark, I had the rickshaw direct his lights over the wall, and went into the brush. With the light phosphor glow of morning I searched my previous steps and jumping the second wall, and there from the shadows came a young man brushing his teeth. “What is your name?” he said. I looked at him, “Ken,” I said as I looked into his glowing eyes, “You found something?”

“Yes, do not worry, I have your purse, and it is safe.” He pointed to a small adobe hut where the smiling faces of his two sisters and parents greeted me. They lived in a three-room dirt floor house with two goats, poor, but they possessed something rare indeed, unconditional honesty. The father resisted when I handed him a $US500 reward, a years salary. He showed me his true heart in his eyes, and it haunts me still.

I got my wallet with the Passport, and my US$3700 was untouched... but something much more, a restored faith in my fellow man, and the answer to my prayer.

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