Being in Mumbai for the last two weeks has been relaxing and chaotic all in one. We had a record-breaking skills challenge of 1800+ kids followed by a six-day tournament, with a two-day tryout right after. In between all the basketball, I have been able to go to church, find a CrossFit gym, eat at some good restaurants, meet a lot of new people, do lots of walking and acquire the best farmers tan you have ever seen!
One of my favorite new friends is a guy who is only a couple of blocks away from my apartment. He has special needs and is in a wheelchair. His caretaker puts him on the same street corner almost every day from dusk until dawn with a tip jar connected to his chair. Every so often the guardian comes to collect the money that has been accumulated and presses it into his pocket. The man in the chair seems so happy sitting, smiling big, and swinging his arms uncontrollably at all the people passing by. Most people walk by and try not to see him, but he sees everyone with excitement and even lets out a squeal at times. The first time I saw him I was uncertain of what to do, not knowing if I should give him money, feel bad for his situation or be happy with him. I decided every time I pass by, I was going to acknowledge him and try to have a small goodie for him. A couple of days ago I brought him a candy bar and he let out the biggest yelp of joy while clapping his hands together. He spotted me yesterday and had a huge smile on his face as usual, and started waving eagerly. I went up to him to say hello and gave him an animated high five. I hope that when I see him I give him love, cheer, and good company. What he gives me is so much more and makes my heart smile. Every day I pray that I let God's light shine through me and for people to be encouraged by it. I see him and I can physically see what I am praying for. Each time I walk up to that busy corner, he gives me love, joy, and inspiration.
There are lots of young street kids around that ask for money, for food or for you to buy the product they have in their hand. I had just finished my dinner at one of my usual places and two ran up asking for me to buy the small packages of tissues they held in their hands. I said no thank you, but they were insanely persistent. I am sure it can get exhausting always getting rejected, ignored or yelled at for peddling their things to others. I tend to think, as much as I do not like to be bothered by someone selling me goods, it has to be just as bothersome having a job that entails you to constantly be told no and shooed away. Instead of buying their merchandise, I started a conversation with them. At first, they were confused as to why I was talking to them, but I just kept chatting. They were about 10 years old and we began speaking in broken English about where we were on the street, what they liked, how old they were and so on. This lasted for about 15 minutes until my ride pulled up. A couple of days later I was at the same restaurant and one of the boys saw me. He ran up to me and instead of asking me to buy the tightly gripped tissues, he eagerly reached his hand out to shake mine with a playful grin. I squeezed him with a strong hug, told him he was one of the coolest kids I knew, made small talk and asked if I could take a selfie with him. He nodded his head with the most enthusiasm. It was so great to see him act his age rather than a laboring salesman on the street.
No matter who we are, we all need someone. We need to be acknowledged, smiled at, encouraged or just have some love shown towards us. I urge everyone to selflessly be this person. Make a goal of showing an act of kindness towards someone every day. The best part about it is that when we think that we are reaching out to someone else, usually they are blessing us 🙂.