So I and Prem were wandering in the roads of Pondy this time and we went to the beach nearby. After the sun was set, finishing all our activities there, we started walking towards the bike parking area.

A  lady was frying some fishes, prawns under a hut shade with no light. The only light source was her stove’s wood fire. She was busy attending the customers, Prem ordered a fish. He said it was very tender, fresh and so tasty that he has not tasted it like this anywhere within the city. The lady was so nice to her customers and treating them so well.

To our surprise she charged only 40rs for one fish.  While Prem wanted to eat some prawns, she requested, rather regretted saying the Cops would come, scold her and throw her belongings and she had to bribe them. So she could not serve anymore and need to wind up her day.  We had no choice other than leaving the place.

Next day we roamed around the French colony and had some good food in a restaurant paying nearly 1k, I was not very happy coz I just had a sandwich. Although I paid nearly 150Rs just for the finger chips, the quantity, quality was so low and taste was not that great. While he ordered some prawns and some fish, he filled his belly with enough food that would keep us energetic till the evening.

For the sunset, we went to another beach again, spent some good time and had a great evening.  An old man came to us and showing some conch and seashells. It was pale, not so shiny, unpolished and I kind of asked him in a bargaining tone for the price. He said he is not selling it for money however if I am happy to pay, I can buy it. With half-minded thought, I gave him 100bucks, thinking I’ll paint it when I am free on any of the lazy weekends.

Post sunset we were going back to the parking area and a lot of small shops near the beach were busy selling seafood. As my boy is always hungry and he is of a never-cheat-your-tummy type, he slowed down at a shop with a colorful board written with a lot of fish dishes. But I insisted him to go to a shop where there are no customers, thinking of yesterday’s lady.

There was a lady standing with a hope that we’d go to her shop so that she could make a sale. Prem asked what’s on the menu and she gave a big list. Since his taste buds were badly asking for some prawns, he ordered some. The lady felt bad since I did not order anything as I wanted some veg food, she offered me some Maggi, omelettes etc. I could see her disappointment when I said no to everything. I could kind of make out from her expression she was somehow willing to make some sale. I was not really in a condition to eat, but I just ordered a coffee. She then started to cook and we were talking about a few things on our business, plans etc. When she brought the food, Prem was so delighted saying it’s one of the best seafood ever. To an extent, it was kind of mouthwatering to me as well for the smell. I usually don’t like non-vegetarian food mainly due to the smell. But this food smelled so good, almost like a Manchurian kind and prem was so much indulged in eating.

In the end, he couldn’t eat the last bits of it but he finished all the prawns and left the masalas. That lady was standing far from us, yet keeping an eye thinking if we liked the food or not. She once in a while was calling out loudly the menus as and when a tourist walks by hoping to get some sales. She asked us so many times that if the food was bad coz he did not finish it completely.  I felt happy with the way she was so concerned about her customer which we couldn’t find it in any of the expensive restaurants.

That true customer satisfaction factor was well managed by her. To our surprise, she also charged only 100bucks for so much food that I felt really bad. Just in the noon, we spent so much money on bad food with no satisfaction while we spent only a few hundred rupees and we were so much satisfied. While we tried keeping some table tips, she refused to take it and took the money what it cost her.

We came back to our staying area, did some window shopping and there came a small boy holding the bubble box. He said he is studying in class 7 and wanted some money for his studies. I insisted to just pay the money and refused to buy from him since I was not that interested to buy the box. He immediately told me “No Akka, I do not want money for free, I will take money from you only if you buy”. I just loved that kid right away for his self-esteem and being an independent kid. He had so much of maturity at such a small age and we could see so many young men/women dressed up badly and begging. We immediately bought a bubble box and wished him good luck. He thanked us with so much energy he ran to the next person not wasting a single minute. Along with the bubble box, it instantly brought a smile on our faces and we played with the bubbles like two small kids.

We then went to the shopping store nearby. We saw the similar conch and seashells, neatly packed, polished and displayed nicely. When we asked for the price, they said its pure, original piece which hence costed 2000rupees!

I was so speechless and felt a bit guilty for paying only 100rs for the poor fisherman who came to us and wholeheartedly took 100rs from us for the original one while the glorified conch was tagged at such a higher price.

The food served in the expensive restaurant costed 1000rs with a really bad taste made us feel bad while we paid only few rupees for the food that was fresh, tender and made with love.

We thought could we do anything better to help them?

Is the honesty, sincerity, quality, self-respect found with the so called “lower class people”

Are they just lower class with high standards?

But I just pay a high tribute and deep respect to the fisherman, the two ladies who sold fishes and prawns and the bubble box kid. 

Because money can’t buy self-esteem.  It has to be earned.

“End of this Story” I will come back with some other stories and till then, stay tuned.

Love and Peace,

-Shruthi

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