Travel Tales

In the hotel lobby

The other day, before we left Jaipur, we struck up a conversation with one of the lovely young attendants at the hotel. She told us about her hometown, quick to assure us it was not a village but a “proper district” several kilometers away. She’d moved to Jaipur for work, lived with a few other girls in a flat in the city.

I must’ve missed how it came up – maybe we were talking about her notable kindness to us while we were at the hotel. I remember she talked about how for her as a Hindu, this life was meant to be used well because what really mattered was where you ended up after death, that preparing for that while you’re here is the goal. With that segue and before we parted ways (she was about to leave and begin her one day off per week), she told us about a parable in Hindu lore that I wish you could hear her retell directly. Her quiet accent did it much more justice than I will now.

The parable references heaven and hell, that no matter which side you ended up on you were removed of the joints in your arms, making them unbendable. In hell, this meant that as everyone struggled to bring food to their mouths they ultimately starved, as it was impossible to feed oneself. Those who were in heaven, however – similarly missing the function in their arms – managed to get enough to eat for they extended their handfuls of food to each other and returned the kindness in turn.

One week into this adventure and I’m finding that its these impromptu, poignant moments defining my impressions and memories, perhaps even more so than any one sweeping, big experience.

Read a much more thorough (and eloquent) recounting of the parable here.