On my return, after buying the envelope, just as I entered my apartment block, an elderly gentleman asked me which was the exit in the building. No sooner I had pointed at the door than he asked me where he could get an envelope. (It turned out that he too was heading for the same farewell function, and he too needed a gift envelope.) I told him there is a shop behind the apartment complex. And that I am just returning after buying one for myself.
While I walked a few steps towards the exit to show him the direction to the store, he popped a question: "Could you just come with me?"
The gentleman, who must be in his sixties, was very apologetic. I agreed to to go to the shop with him, but I also suggested he could use the envelope I had bought, and that I shall quickly go back to the store and get another one. Why should he walk all the way to the store, I thought.
But he said no, and cheerfully agreed to walk along with me. As we walked, I told me where he had worked in Bengaluru, and asked me where I lived, where I worked, how long I have been in the city etc. We just quickly got to know each other.
Back at the store, I asked the lady at the counter for anther envelope. The lady is the wife of the man owns the shop.
"Give me a simple cover," the man told the lady, who then offered one which cost Rs 3.
Seemingly satisfied, he took out his purse and offered her coins of Rs 2 and Re 1.
However, a few other coins too dropped on the desk, and the woman's eyes fell on a shining one.
"What is that coin?", she asked.
Before he could reply, came another question: "Can I see it?"
A bit taken aback, he put the coin hurriedly back in the purse.
But the woman was insistent and assured him that she won't take it, but only wants to just see it.
Then he took it out and handed it over to her. She examined it.
"Is it a silver coin?" she was curious.
"No, it's an American cent, a penny," he explained.
She didn't seem to have understood. So, I said, "It is a coin of a foreign country, and not ours."
Then in a sudden turn around, she asked, "Can I have it?"
Why she abruptly wanted to own it, I wondered.
I asked her, "I wonder if it's right to ask for something personal from a customer in this manner!"
She then turned a bit apologetic, and reasoned out. "When I go to Rajasthan, I can show my friends the foreign coin."
"But still, isn't it a personal thing?" I asked her.
She then quickly said, "Uncle might have more such coins at home."
The elderly man, probably not wanting to have with him something that someone is longing for, readily parted with the penny, saying there are many more such coins at home, and that his son works in the US.
As we walked back, the incident left both of us thinking why she suddenly wanted to have the coin for herself.