The 150 Rupee Smile

Not the same rickshaw – my trip was at night.

Haggling is a way of life in India. Double or triple the price is often asked for an item or a service. Sometimes I negotiate but I don’t always feel the need. There are some people who I want a reduced price from, some who I accept the price as is and, then some…

I was leaving a restaurant in Agra and understood that my hotel was not too far away. The bicycle rickshaw driver I approached asked for 100 rupees. I said, no, 50. A couple of other men came up and negotiated for me and agreed, 50 was fair. So, off we went.

However, the hotel was much farther than expected. Much farther. And often up a low grade hill. The thin man worked so hard that I wanted to get out and push him up the hill. Half way there, he had earned the 100 rupees in my mind. By the time he made it, he had earned a 50 rupee tip.

When I pushed the 150 rupees into his hand he looked at me with a smile, concern, disbelief… No photo was taken. But I will remember that 150 rupee smile forever.


  • I’m A Fiend

    Glad your thinking shifting, it is one of the benefits of travelling to different countries. I didn’t get that from your story but i think I was only focusing at the negative and didn’t appreciate that you were touched by his smile. So I am sorry if i came off harshly. reading my comment next day it was abit judgemental.

  • Janice Waugh

    I’m in total agreement with you. The experience shifted my thinking. Thanks for commenting.


  • I’m A Fiend

    100 rupies is less than $1.62. I’m from NY and the moment you step in the cab the meter is $2.50 and .25 each additional 1/8th a mile. I understand that the locals will upcharge tourists, but i feel like in situations like this you shouldn’t have haggled him down to half the fare. 75 rupees would have been good. When in a country where laborers typically live off of $30 a month (educated professionals average $85 a month) My personal opinion but i think that its distasteful to argue over 50 cent that for him is a meal for his family but for you is a pack of gum back home. The fact that he was so shocked over the large tip is a hint at how much it meant to him. I hope you keep that in mind next time your in a country with high poverty and haggling with someone to whom 50 cents means so much.

  • Sarah

    Goosebumps story :)

  • Colleen Angel Crush

    So worth it!  Thanks for sharing….

  • Baron

    Absolutely gorgeous

  • Holly

    Opportunities to bless another human are all around us if one pays attention. You will remember that smile for always. Well done.

  • Biraj

    You must’ve made his entire week… He will always remember you too! :)

  • suedoise

    Glad to see the poor man was amply rewarded. The poverty of the bicycle rickshaw drivers are of dimensions hard to face just as it is true the environment they work within is miserably paid because of standards set by locals.Let alone having misery about one constantly – the unavoidable unsettling travelling companion. Never bothers you?

  • Someday I’ll Be There – Mina

    Its always those small things that make your day before the receivers day :) Amazing story, and I’m sure that smile was priceless 😉

  • Jacob Clampitt

    It’s difficult to manage such transactions in India. And it’s clear that it matters to you to be fair. Bravo!