Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The 2 Rose Deal & A Lesson on Luck!

I had an opportunity to visit the beautiful Crete Island this summer as I was selected for a training program under prestigious Erasmus Mundus grant. Since most recent vacation was far behind us, my loving wife Sharadhi showed an enormous interest in joining me on this travel and we finally landed at Heraklion International Airport at Crete with a connection at Thessaloniki on 28th June 2019. It was therefore a partial vacation for me and a complete one for Sharadhi, even though she had brought some work off shore.  I therefore had a great time both professionally and personally.

Old Port of Chania, Crete
Crete is a beautiful island with long history, beautiful archaeological sites, tasty food, magnificent museums and breathtaking feast for a nature lover with large mountains meeting blue sea- which all together is a different topic to write upon.   

As we walked holding hands on the white sand and paved footpaths of the old city and Mediterranean coast, Sharadhi tossed in a wonderful conversation on what it means to be a refugee! Though, we both had different views on the topic, something we agreed upon was, "If you are not a refugee; and,  if you have meal on your plate, good health, shelter to sleep, and decent education, you are better off than 75% of  humanity." We ended that walk deciding to go to Haris Creperie for an open sky dinner.

I  was busy burying my hunger under Pizza Margarita and sipping a few gulps of Coke, I could see   Sharadhi enjoying her Pancakes with white chocolate, cranberries and strawberry jam (Undoubtedly it was delicious) when I noticed a young girl standing next to our table with a bouquet of about 25 roses, mostly red. She should have been about 10 years old. It took me a while to understand the situation as I was a little unused to such an encounter. With the bouquet in both hands, she asked me if I could buy a rose for 1 EURO. Saying NO was rather difficult, as I knew my wife was fond of flowers. I looked at the roses, they were fresh, I looked at my wife, she had no expressions on face the only reason I would say a NO was, in Indian Rupees that was an "expensive"  rose! I gauged the situation rightly: 'as my wife is pragmatic, she wouldn't nudge me for saying 'NO'.' I immediately said NO. In a while we had our dinner and we're about to move out settling the bill. The whole experience including the food was eventful and I somehow couldn't face myself for saying NO to a 10 year old refugee. 

The 2 Roses

Somehow  the thought of not being in her place as a refugee bothered me a lot. I had 2 options: to offer her a nice dinner or to buy 2 roses instead of 1. I decided to go with the latter as I was not sure if the cafe was okay with me offering her a dinner at their place and you shouldn't offend a businessman at his business place.  

The best of my observations until we stroke the 2 ROSE DEAL was that she at that young age was not begging. Instead she had an investment of 25 roses in hand and she had the business spirit. As we settled the deal, I realized she was a true business woman at her own level. She knew how to interact with her customers! What else can I say about her when She asks us if we are from India in the broken English she knew, When she introduces herself saying she was from Armenia?  I don't recall her name but it's hard to forget the smile she had when I paid her 2 Euros.

That was probably her target for the day as it was about 10:00 PM. She crossed the street after saying BYE. My eyes were glued on her as she crossed the street. I saw her pay a few cents at the juice shop and deposit her bouquet there to be placed in cold storage. It;s now I realized she looked at us in the eye and did a 'Namaste'. I couldn't think of clicking her photo as I was overwhelmed with a cyclone of thoughts.

When I look back, by buying 2 Roses, I don't think I did a lot. But, if I had ignored buying, I would have just missed an opportunity to contribute in uplifting that one child. I did very little and I did at my own capacity. If not for my journey of life, and a huge influence from the writings of  Mr. Guy Spier and Mr. Mohnish Pabrai, I don't know if I would have bought 2 roses. Therefore, I should be modest in thanking both these gentlemen in mentoring my thoughts. As I have a tougher past, probably it was easy for me to step into her shoes and think from her perspective. Thanks to the past. When I deeply think about the whole episode, the empathy was the only thing I gave her. and she was not a taker at all! Instead, she was a giver!!

She gave me a new problem to think about. In my memory, I had never thought what it means to be refugee.  
She gave beautiful roses which my wife was happy to receive! 
She greeted us in our traditional way 'Namaste'!
She gave me an idea of her tougher past by a geographical locator " Armenia": her Motherland.
Moreover, She proved it at her level that there are different meaningful ways for a person to earn his bread. It's only self start that's required to grow. I am more humbled by this experience.

Most of the times we commit a mistake by taking pride in giving away. Honestly, looking at the magnitude joy, the spirit of life and the graceful attitude towards life the lesser privileged exhibit in itself is fulfilling and mind boggling. I wouldn't be wrong when I say "we give small and take bigger lessons for life"

The day ended with the thought "To not to be born a refugee is the the luckiest thing that can happen to anyone."


  1. You are a great guy. I feel proud to be friend of you

    1. Dear Vaze ji,
      Your friendship is a pleasure of mine. You are an inspiration for me in many ways. Happy to see you follow my blog. :)

  2. Loved the flow of events... Beautifully written...👌👌

  3. Dear Vinayak sir,
    she was not a taker at all! Instead, she was a giver!!

  4. Wonderfully described.And this is how the smallest incidents take a greatest proportion in our lives.

    1. Dear Jyothi,
      Thanks for the feed back. Life is a journey. to value it is when you look back. That's what I believe in.

  5. Everyday we learn something new in life, internalising what we learn and living with empathy for others will take us a long way.GOOD JOB,nicely written Visual.


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