Some of the most inspiring people you’ll ever meet come from the working class of India. They often work long hours with no days off. They house their family, educate their children, and put rice on the table, all with a budget that you probably couldn’t last a few weeks on.
The working class of India is inspiring, but is also daunting for many outsiders to deal with, especially when you are face-to-face, trying to negotiate the price of an auto rickshaw ride, or a monthly salary for washing your car.
Overall, I’ve had a tremendous experience with this group of people. At least in Chennai, we’ve found them to be hardworking, friendly, and welcoming to us as foreigners. We can almost always trust the person to do a good job and quote a reasonable rate.
But what is reasonable? How do you know if you are paying the right amount? And what if the right amount seems absurdly low to you? When should you negotiate a better price, and when should you accept your privilege in life as a means to help others?
These aren’t easy questions to deal with, but everyone here has to do it at some point. [Read more…]