India is a country of extremes. While some of the richest persons of the world are from India, it also has the dubious distinction of having about 40 percent of its population living below poverty line. Half of this population does not even get two square meals a day. Yet it is a country which is known for its bliss and people come here from all over the world to find the secret behind it. I have myself experienced it in abundance during my extensive visits to the villages all across the country. Here, I am narrating an experience of my own locality of Gomtinagar in Lucknow.
In cities most of the construction workers come from different states and work with a contractor in groups. They live in their makeshift dwellings which keep on changing with their work-site. Some years back such a group was working in my neighbourhood and was living in the manner described above. The site was on the way of my morning and evening walks. During my walks, I had developed an acquaintance with this group and while passing through the area, there would always be an exchange of greetings. Behind this exchange of greetings, there was also a feeling of true respect and concern which used to give a certain joy perhaps to both sides. This went on for months till they shifted to another site.
During one such walk in the evening, I noticed that the group had assembled together in a very joyful mood. After the exchange of greetings, they told me that they were going to enjoy Coca-Cola of which they had procured a big bottle. At that time it was a new development and so their joy was very understandable. When asked about the price they had paid for the bottle, one of them told me it was 40 rupees. In those days, the actual price was 35 rupees. When I drew their attention to this fact, they remained unaffected and only said that they were charged a higher price because of their poverty and illiteracy. Having said this, they continued with their joy and I left the place.