I bought two scarves for which I had no use. Those could be gifts for my driver and the cook. A conversation ensued.
Gurung says some of his buyers just buy some stuff and go their way, but others, like me, stop to chat and ask a lot of questions. Does it bother him, I ask. No, no, he shakes his head vigorously, he enjoys talking with people. Some of them are very good and are very interested. They rarely haggle and pay the price he quotes, and a few don’t even take the change.
He remembered a man had come a few years back with his wife and bought several things. They had stopped to have tea with Gurung and, before leaving, the wife had given him a gift, a book written by her husband. They were so nice, Gurung had proudly kept the book on display in his shop. He laughed and added that some American tourists had even wanted to buy the book, but he had told them it wasn’t for sale.
Then Gurung said that he would have liked to send a gift to the man and his wife, but did not know how to do it, since he didn’t know the man’s address. What was the gift, I wondered. He brought out a large scroll. Unwrapped, it showed a beautiful design of a Mandala.
I planned to place the scroll in a box and mail it to the Carter Center in Atlanta. But, when I returned to my office, I discovered to my surprise that an American couple I knew well, Hank and Janis Blaustein, were returning to their home in Atlanta the next week. They readily agreed to carry the gift and deliver it safely and swiftly. I gave them the package and wrote a letter to the Carter Center explaining the circumstances and requesting that, when Mr. Carter receives the package, a word be sent to me.
The Blausteins received a copy of the photograph the very next day. I received by express mail two envelopes: one for Gurung, containing the photo and a charming letter of acknowledgement and thanks, and another for me, containing a letter thanking me for my intermediary role and requesting that the other envelope be given to Gurung as soon as possible.
Gurung was thunderstruck the next day when I explained who the visitor to his shop had been and how he had arranged to receive Gurung’s gift. Then I handed him Mr. Carter’s letter and the photo. Gurung's wife wept with joy. A simple man, who had liked and remembered a visitor to his shop without knowing his antecedents, and had asked another visitor to forward a generous gift, had had a deserved reward.
Opinions differ on Jimmy Carter’s role as a US President. There can be no difference of opinion that no US President, perhaps no world leader, has done more for the world after leaving office than him. He did something for me too. The little incident, in which I played a minor role, brought me a major gift. It yielded a lesson I can never forget: However big or busy one is, a gift from the heart is far too important not to be treated with the utmost deference.