A Smile Can do Wonders

Who knew a 45 second encounter with a girl no more than 12, could have such an impact?

Itís been 3 years, and I still think of her often. I wonder if she feels the same.

I travelled to India with some family and a tour group. Originally I wasnít all that excited about this trip but rather quite fearful as I had no idea what to expect. A week or so into the trip I realized what a journey it was going to be. It was going to be both a trip of self-discovery and chalked full of challenges.

We stopped for lunch one day at an upscale restaurant but after days of unfamiliar food and smells I wasn't feeling so well. I excused myself to the restroom and came face to face with the most beautiful young girl. She was dressed in an orange and gold sari and had long black hair. I assume she was from a wealthy family based on the gold that laced her neck and wrists. The instant she turned around and saw me, her expression turned to pure and honest happiness, her eyes lit up and she could barely get her
words out. When she managed to gather her thoughts, in perfect English, she gave me her hand and said "What is your name and where are you from"? Based on her shocking reaction I realized that the sight of a red headed, freckled white woman with pink streaks in her hair was probably a very unfamiliar sight to her. We exchanged names and I told her I was from Canada. She came closer to me and asked me to come near. I hesitated not understanding what she wanted me to do. So she pointed to her cheek and gestured with her hands. This lovely little girl then took both my hands in hers, kissed me on both cheeks and said "I am so very pleased to meet you". I blushed and returned the greeting.

She seemed eager to continue our conversation but I sensed she felt she should not bother her new friend in the location we found ourselves in. She then politely thanked me, for what I didn't quite understand, bowed her head and left the room, all while not losing eye contact until the door closed behind her.

I smiled all day long and I can't explain why. Maybe it's because I've never had such a nice encounter with a young girl, or maybe it was because it was so unexpected in the restroom of an Indian restaurant. Regardless, it caught me off guard and it's a story I tell often. After spending 4 wonderful weeks in India it is one of my fondest memories.

It's not only the sights that you see when you visit unfamiliar countries but the experiences you have with the people that make for a love of travel. I can only hope to be fortunate enough to feel that kind of honest emotion again in a foreign place.

J MacKay

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