150 rupees

|Author: Elizabeth|

Carmen, Evan, and I were in search of an auto rickshaw to take us back to ISI. The driver started to charge us with a price of 150 rupees—50 rupees more than what the Uber app had displayed as the normal rate. With a bit of back and forth—the driver insisting on 150 rupees and us attempting to bargain down the price—it was settled. “Okay. 100,” the driver caved.

As we walked a few feet towards the auto, Carmen double checked to see whether he was still okay with keeping the price at 100 rupees. There was a nod, so we got in. Once all three of us placed our butts onto the seat—settled in enough to not easily get up and leave—he turned around to tell us that this trip would cost us 150 rupees. 

Due to the fact that Evan wasn’t feeling too well, we warily agreed. But throughout our drive back to ISI, I stayed silent due to my confusion and annoyance. Annoyed, not because of the additional money that we now needed to commit to but because our driver didn’t keep his word. How could he go about doing business like this? Where is his trustworthiness? As this trip has progressed, I have grown to understand that, more than ever, it is important to consider and empathize with all of the different perspectives that exist—those similar to yours and, especially, those that differ from your own.

When the class watched the movie Fandry (which means pig in Marathi) the night before, there were times when I reached a level of discomfort that was equivalent to my level of annoyance. Though I questioned the parents’, especially the father’s, behavior towards their children and painfully cringed at their concerning choices and actions, I eventually analyzed the situation—becoming more open to the idea of multiple perspectives as I noted how the parents had reasonings for their behaviors.

There was a reason for the parents to push their daughter towards an arranged marriage. It may seem wrong that they allowed their young daughter to have suitors that were in their late forties and onwards, but her parents arranged this for her benefit. This family—known as the untouchables within the community (the lowest caste in India that is taken for granted, looked down upon, and discriminated against)—are trying to live life day by day with the limited amount of money that they can gather. Therefore, marrying her off seemed like it would give her a better life.

There is a reason for the parents to discourage their son from doing homework for school—or to go to school at all. It may seem wrong that they are distancing the boy from education, but given their lack of money, the family needs everyone to work in order to earn enough to support each other. And they need to carefully portion out the kerosene needed to provide their house light.

Therefore, it is crucial to recognize that there is a reason for the auto rickshaw driver to bump up the price right after he agreed to let us pay a lower price. It may seem wrong for him to lie to us and not follow through with his promise, but he had to find ways to make a living for himself—buy food to sustain himself, maybe bring back money for his family.

There are always reasons. There is no right. There is no wrong. And for me I guess that’s the most frustrating part. Despite how challenging it is to comprehend and live life most times, it is also comforting to think about the unrestricted feeling you get from not following this structure that may cause others to have the right to condemn you and invalidate your thoughts and opinions.

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