When I landed in Delhi, along with my other classmates whom I randomly ran into on the flight, I finally couldn’t believe I was in Delhi, let alone India! We quickly introduced ourselves and became immediate “best friends” since we were expecting to be the only folks struggling to find our way around the airport. After we claimed our baggage and found our contact person, we went outside to wait for our bus and the extreme heat immediately signified that we were in India. As we walked to our bus, we were slowly approached by a group of men who wanted to help us with our luggage and eventually ended up carrying and loaded our luggage for us since our contact person said it was “alright.” However, all of the men asked for money afterwards. I’m not sure if it was fortunate or unfortunate for us but we were told by our MSID teachers to not exchange our money until we were in Jaipur so no one had any rupees yet. So half of us tried to explain using our hands that we had no money, while the other half were trying to figure out what to do, how to respond and how much money we should give if we were going to give any.
The man who had my luggage held out his hands signaling he wanted money before loading my luggage and I tried explaining that I had no Indian currency yet and said I’d take my luggage and load it myself but he blocked it and said “Amrika money ok.” At this point, the majority of my classmates had loaded the bus already and either paid or ignored the men. I not knowing what to do and feeling a little overwhelmed already, figured it would be alright to give $1.00 in U.S. currency (it was the smallest change I had) so I paid the man, watched him load my luggage and boarded the bus. I mean, it was just $1.00 right?
Apparently not. When I got on the bus I asked if anyone else had paid and I’m not sure if anyone else had but one of the friends nearby asked how much I gave and when I told her I had given $1.00, she said I gave way too much and should’ve just told them I had no money. She explained that it’s only $1.00 to us but it’s about 90+ rupees to them, which is “a lot” for loading just one luggage. Confused and surprised, I thought about what would’ve been a reasonable amount to give and although I did give “too much,” wouldn’t it have been disrespectful or rude of me to not pay him for helping me with my luggage? I understood that perhaps I did give more than I should have, but I still honestly would have felt bad if I didn’t give any money at all.