This incident happened when we had been to Hogenakkal a year back for a day trip in my friends Scorpio. We were on the way back after having a fun filled day of coracle ride, nice meal by the river-side cooked by the locals & with fresh fish caught in the river etc., just when we entered the main road we saw hordes of people lined up to catch a bus back to the nearest town/village. We were caught in a traffic jam for 5 minutes & noticed that all the buses were coming completely jam-packed. There were people in every nook & corner of the bus... a lot of them top of it as well (a typical scene in most parts of rural India). We also noticed that there was this seemingly elderly couple trying to board the buses without luck... were just being pushed around by the crowd. They finally had to give up and walked a little ahead of the bus stop and tried their luck in hitch-hiking.
I had read a couple of horror stories about being way-laid and some untoward incidents in the recent past and when they waved at us to stop, something told me that we shouldn't & I drove off. After about 200mtrs I stopped, because my wife & other 2 friends pestered me to drop them. I reluctantly turned around to come and pick them up. They saw us stop and I could see their face light up as soon as my friend asked them to hop in.
They shared a little about their life and hardship while traveling. To think that I hesitated to help them initially kills me with guilt till this date.
Apparently both of them work with the govt. as small time clerks but for 1 for the Karnataka Govt. and the other for the Tamilnadu. The mother stays with their son in a small town in Tamilnadu (Near Hosur) while her husband works in Karnataka somewhere. Their son is studying in an engineering college & doing well in his studies, but it being a private college they have to pay hefty fees & are bearing it out of 8-10K that they are earning. Sacrificing every little joy that we take for granted, the gentleman was also saying that he comes to visit them only once a year to save on travel costs etc., They were actually in Hogenakkal that day to celebrate their 25th marriage anniversary and they've been saving for this day for over 6 months now! Just imagine staying separated by only 300 odd kms from your family and not being able to see them for a year because you want to save that 200Rs towards your son's education... Now that is dedication towards your family commitments.
I was really moved that day, moved by the fact they are struggling so much to up bring their son, struggling for months to save that 100Rs to have a moment for themselves & go out somewhere. That's probably the kind of amount most of us would spend without even thinking about it. Had we not picked them up that day, they would've had to walk almost 20 - 25kms in a deserted stretch of highway, through the jungle in the night to reach the nearest town & catch another bus from there...
I had refused to pick them only in the interest of my friends and family's safety. A few incidents that have occurred in that area doesn't really inspire confidence to help strangers, but due to such miscreants even the genuine folks are being let down. That's really sad... but how do you tell them apart?
We were however happy that we could help them a little that day... The 'smile' and 'thank you' as we dropped them off was so sincere, that it brought more happiness than all the fun we had the whole day! Magical indeed.