Do You Remember Me?

It was the end of a long day of sightseeing in Delhi, India. I leaned against the bus window and closed my eyes, letting visions of palaces, forts, temples, and all I had seen that day play like a slideshow. Art, architecture, history and culture swirled in my brain. I was in love with India. And I was exhausted.

Delhi pulsates. It’s crowded, and noisy, and life is lived very publicly. Meals are cooked over a flame anywhere you can find a small pile of trash to burn for fuel. Barbers set up shop along any iron fence that will hold their mirror. Naps happen seemingly at random, under a parked truck, on a bench, or on a cot outside one’s shop.

The population is 18 million, and roughly ½ that number had tried to sell me a trinket that day. The souvenir hawkers are relentless. They are mostly young men, boys really, and they are absolutely impervious to rejection. The minute I exited the tour bus, I would be surrounded by a crowd competing for my attention to buy, buy, buy. When they discovered that part of our group spoke Spanish, they started delivering their sales pitches in that language.

It was amusing and surreal to be in Delhi, being assaulted by Indian boys speaking fluent Spanish.  The only word they cannot understand is “no”.

So, here I am, on the bus, waiting for a few stragglers so we can head back to our hotel. Suddenly there is a rap on my window 

“Ma’am, Ma’am!” “Do you remember me?” 

What? Who? I turned towards my husband to laugh at the absurdity of me remembering anyone in India. I’d only been here a day! But then, I looked out the window at the beaming, hopeful face, holding up a stone necklace I had admired but not purchased earlier in the day, in another part of town! 

“I do!” I exclaimed. “I do remember you!” 

And I got up out of my seat, off the bus and bought the neckace on the spot. It was irresistible. He was irresistible. Out of hundreds of boys selling myriads of stuff, across miles of tourist area, he never gave up, he never heard “NO.” He somehow remembered me and that I had looked at that necklace, and he asked the winning question. “Do you remember me?”

I’ll never forget him.

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