When granny sang a song !

When granny sang a song !

Travelling is counting number of memories, not places.

That’s my tag-line. If you read my profile anywhere, this is what I always maintain. For me memories of a journey are far more important & cherishable than places. Places change their shapes, sizes and the looks with time. Memories never.
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“Excuse me; can I help this lady in some way?” I asked a woman standing behind the push cart pointing towards an old woman, her neighbour, who looked dazed sitting behind another food stall.

February, 2010. Seven in the evening, I was in night market at Krabi, Thailand where I stayed for a fortnight while solo backpacking in South East Asia. Being alone, I had all the time in the world exploring things around me and it was my second day here.

“What?”
“Yeah, I would like to help that woman sell her things”.

She laughed.
“No, I am serious. I had her food yesterday and it was very delicious!” I tried to make my point.

She did not stop working and yelled at the old woman, the granny, telling her my intentions. The granny could not hear it clearly and came near us.

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Granny’s food stall..

Krabi night markets or pasar malam are a favorite and individual food vendors rule the place. Activities start in the evenings and within two hours they set up their stalls with food & drinks… ready to be ordered & consumed. High competition, low prices leave them with very little profit everyday. For almost all of them, this is the only source of income.
The vendors compete with each other for taking orders, preparing food and serving. Not to mention, they all are young, energetic, comfortable with English and are extremely busy during these 4 hours as there are more customers to serve than they can handle.

But this old woman was sadly sitting idle. What was wrong with her? Her face bore a worried look. Her food looked good, hygienic and had variety, still she along with her grandson were patiently waiting. They did not know what to do. It looked very odd. I had seen this the day before also when I chose her stall to have my dinner. I had difficulty in communicating with them and not knowing how much to pay, had handed them a 100 THB (Thai Baht) note. I immediately knew both of them were novice.

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Neatly covered and Ummm… yummy!

Today, I waited for this woman to repeat it again to granny. Lack of a common language always leads to sign language and acting. Don’t worry, I am trying to hone up my skills in these areas. 🙂

Granny had recognized me and smiled. After all, I was one of very few customers who ate her food yesterday.

It took a while before granny could understand what I wanted to do. More because the ‘interpreter’ woman was too busy to perform her freshly acquired role. 😉

Now I had two people … the granny and her 10 year old grandson Tep … none of whom understood a single word of English. It was difficult to convince them that I wanted to help them without any motive or money.

In short, after much cajoling they agreed.

We started off immediately. I became their interpreter. Her grandson Tep had already arranged plastic chairs for prospective customers. My job was to take orders, asking them to be seated, and help the duo as much as possible. Being my first day at the job, I could only bring in few customers, but more than their usual. 🙂

At the end of it, granny offered me a free meal which I politely declined. I was not here for any favor. I wanted to do it for my satisfaction.

Next evening at 6 I ended up visiting the same night market again as it was very close to my guesthouse. I was before time and could see all vendors cutting vegetables, salads, making satays & sauces and setting up their stalls. The said duo was also struggling to set up theirs.

Now I was curious to know about them. And their story.

when granny sang a song @lemonicks.com

Happy Tep with his grandmother.

Since it was not yet time for streaming diners, the ‘interpreter’ agreed to have a talk with me. It turned out that the granny’s son & daughter-in-law were running the food stall. The son had met with an accident and was in a hospital. The daughter-in-law was attending to him.
The poor family whose whole income depended on these four hours of business could not afford to sit at home. The brave duo of granny & grandson took this upon themselves to hold the fort but not knowing English had made them ineffective.

By the end of 5th day, I taught the grandson to mug up “May I hep you (May I help you?)”, “have a see (please have a seat)” etc. He would ask his granny the price and then write on a paper.
The granny would hum some song and smile while serving.

A routine was set.

I was happy. The business started picking up.

On my last day there, when it was time to say bye, granny wanted to give me something for all the help.

I requested her to sing for me.

And she sang … a song which I did not understand a word but knew it came from her heart….

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49 thoughts on “When granny sang a song !

  1. Yep! I think this was a very humane act on your part to get them going.
    I too would like to hear the song, if u have recorded it 🙂

  2. @Samaresh,
    Thank you. Yes, I had recorded it somewhere in my mobile. Will have to check.

    @Arvi,
    Thank you. I had nothing else to do in evenings. 🙂
    Will check if I still have the song.

  3. what an amazing memory!!!! And what a great thing you did for the granny and her grandson- priceless!!! They really NEEDED help- and you gave the best help possible. WOW- really great.

  4. @Dark Knight,
    Why do you think I kept going there again & again? 😛

    @Vaish,
    Welcome here and yes Thai food is my favourite too.

  5. @Connie,
    It was obvious, they needed help but since all other vendors were busy with their own work, there was none to help them.

  6. loved the post and would love to hear granny’s song!!!
    Would love it if you hop over to read my travel tale and the lovely stranger I met! 🙂

  7. Such a sweet story and how gracious of you to help them get established and grow their little business in the few days you were there!

  8. What an inspiring story. So amazing of you to help them out with their food stand, especially since not everyone would have thought of that. I hope you do still have the song to remember them by.

    1. Thank you very much.

      Unfortunately no, I don’t remember it but the emotions with which it was sung for me are still with me. 🙂

  9. What an absolutely perfect experience! Interacting w/ the locals is one of my favorite parts of travel. And the food stands in Thailand? BEST. FOOD. EVER!!!

  10. Awwww – I so want to hear granny’s song now 🙂 Really cute story, loved reading it (and how awesome are the night markets in Krabi right?)

  11. Wow, this is such a wonderful post – good on you for taking your time to offer kindness along your travels. These are the travel moments which are the most memorable and rewarding, and with such a simple gesture you’ve probably completely changed their lives.

    I loved reading about this moment – thankyou for sharing your experience 🙂

    1. Thank you.

      I am glad you liked the post. I agree, these are the moments that are both memorable & rewarding.

      So gratifying. 🙂

  12. Travel is indeed made of memories not places and this is one I’m sure you’ll remember.

  13. Another great read from you and I love your tag line! I always admire your post, full of heart and amazing stories. I want to start writing that way. I want to travel with you someday and help someone with selling their food too!

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words. 😀

      I too hope that we travel together one day. I am sure, we’ll have fun. 🙂

  14. How beautiful you write. Reading your stories give me a depth and leave me contended.

    God bless you.

  15. Wow… what a beautiful post and I am sure you must have felt so good inside after helping the duo.
    Language indeed becomes a problem in different countries but the human spirit must not die.
    We travelers bring back such lovely memories.

  16. I looove this story! I sometimes want to help locals with their business but am too shy so I just continue about my day. Running small businesses like this is so important for households in other countries so that’s really nice you helped them out.

  17. What a lovely thing to do and that’s something that will really stay with you forever now! People are what make our experiences while travelling so special.
    I’m hoping everything went well for granny and that her son and daughter came back home well.

  18. What a beautiful story. So sad to hear that her son was in the hospital, but it’s also a great story of how there are people out there, like you, who genuinely want to help others in need. This story will stay with me forever as well 🙂

  19. What a lovely story — I love that you could help out. And it sounds like her song really did come from her heart! Thank you for sharing this touching story!

  20. I found helping someone without any reward in return, unconditionally, is the greatest joy. Thanks, Nisha, for making my morning positive and inspiring. 🙂

    1. What a pleasant surprise Ravish!!

      After a long time! How have you been?
      Thank you for liking it. yes, helping others has been in us. 🙂

  21. I love your tag-line; “Travelling is counting number of memories, not places”. This is a great memory. What you did is very nice. I hope this lady and her grandson had many more customers after you left and she could continue cooking and selling her delicious meals.

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