During my first visit to India (in early 1994), my in-laws encouraged my wife and me to take sightseeing trips organised by the Karnataka State Road Transport Company (‘KSRTC’). These coach trips, each of which lasted more than 12 hours, involved seeing many interesting sights. During one of them, we visited the old (12th century and earlier) temples at Belur.
After viewing the temples, we left the area in which they are enclosed, and stood waiting to board our bus. A small boy approached us. In his hand there were three small carved stone elephants, which he offered to sell us. They were quite attractive, but not something that we wanted. He began by saying:
“Two hundred rupees only.”
We declined his offer.
“One hundred and fifty rupees,” he said.
We were not tempted.
We said “No, thanks.”
Again, we refused. He brought the elephants closer to us.
“We really don’t want them,” we explained to him. Then, he said:
“Have them for nothing.”
We told him that we did not want them, and he wandered off,
Today, almost thirty years later, I still wonder what would have happened next if we had accepted the three elephants without paying anything to the little chap. Even though we did not buy or accept the three cute little carvings, I can still see them in my mind’s eye.