Part 3 in a series, #returntoindia
While we are in India, Katie and I thank three people for their time or efforts. We thank more than three, actually. I tip like an American. But here are three:
- A nun at St. Pius, a Catholic retreat center where we stay in Bombay (Mumbai), watched over two of our students who stay back one day, with upset stomachs, and she hovers over them, offering anise seed for indigestion. I thank her as we leave, but she will have none of it. “It is my duty,” she says.
- At Immanuel Business School, the campus administrator, my friend Thomas, takes care of everything we need. He doesn’t want us to do a thing for ourselves—wash a cup, lift our luggage, or serve ourselves in the cafeteria. I thank him when we leave. “It is my duty,” he says.
- On our last day in Calcutta (Kolkata), a vendor in the New Market shows us over hundred a tops and scarfs, searching for Katie’s color and price. We thank him for his time and effort. “It is my duty.”
Yes, there is a Christian sense of responsibility that Thomas and the nun would have appreciated. But this is something deeper, rooted in centuries of practice. Dharma is a concept shared by all India religious systems and includes duty as a prime virtue.
This ideal goes back four or five thousand years and touches every facet of life, from the caste system to any understanding of right behavior. In fact, the wheel of dharma is the central motif of the national flag.
Not everything is about time or money.
Some things are about duty.