Monday, May 18, 2009

There is no such thing as Free Lassi

We had just boarded the train in Mumbai, enroute to Bhilwara and my wife couldn't contain her curiosity any longer. She asked the group sitting opposite us, "Where did you buy the packets of Lassi?"

It was a scorchingly hot afternoon, and while waiting to board the train at Bandra Terminus we had seen this group sipping their lassis. Tempted, we had gone to at least five different food stalls in the railway platform but not one was selling lassis (sweetened buttermilk).

"Oh, we didn't buy them here. We have brought them with us," one of the ladies told my wife.

She went off somewhere and a came back a few minutes later and proferred two lassi packets to us. We tried protesting but she insisted that they had lots of extras and so we accepted. The train started to move. Amul's Rose-flavored lassi felt cool and creamy, just right after wandering in the sun.

Almost as soon as the lassi was done, that same lady said, "We are a big group but we didn't get seats together. Would you mind exchanging your seats with some of the other members of our group so that we can all sit together?"Since you can't really enjoy someone's lassi and refuse to cooperate, we agreed. In a few minutes we had been relegated to one end of the compartment with our bags.

There was no way the lady could have pre-planned this, but I was struck by how smoothly she had operated with great presence of mind. And for me, there were a couple of small lessons of life in India. Always be careful of accepting 'free' gifts. And if you want to get something, be prepared to give something first.

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