I was invited to an Indian wedding on Saturday, November 17th, in Ghumarwin, Himachal Pradesh. It was cold, but most of the women wore sandals without socks, and for once I didn’t want to be the lazy American who only dressed for comfort. I had on a salwar kameez especially made for me by my friends, the Baliyani family, and a shawl that Meena bought in Delhi that matched. It was warmer than the smaller pashmina I had brought. I admired it, and they gave it to me, saying Meena could get another one later. Since I was decked out in my Indian finest, I didn’t want to spoil the look by wearing socks with my sandals.
Unfortunately, it got cold. Really cold. To make matters worse, the wedding, which had been expected to start at 8 pm, was delayed. The groom and his party were traveling by car from Delhi to Ghumarwin, which was normally about a 12 hour drive anyway, but traffic had been unusually bad. At 11:30 pm, there was still no sign of them, and it was getting colder. My feet were like blocks of ice.
A friendly young man came up to chat with me. He was curious to know which country I was from, whether I liked Indian culture, was enjoying myself and other pleasantries. He was so nice to me and asked a few times whether he could bring me some hot tea or coffee. I hadn’t wanted any, but the next time he asked, I said, half jokingly,
“No, thank you very much. But if you happen to have a pair of socks, that I would accept!”
“Okay, no problem. Just give me 15 minutes.”
“Are you serious?!”
“Yes, of course.”
I was desperate, so I was willing to believe in miracles.
“My feet are big, like a man’s,” I said, poking my hoof forward for him to see. “I wear man size socks.”
“Just give me 15 minutes,” he said again, smiling.
He was back in about five with a brand new pair of black socks!
“Oh, thank you so much! You saved my life! Now I have to take your picture.”
And that was how I came to know the name of Rajesh Kumar, who saved my life with a pair of socks.
Prem has told me more than once that in India, anything is possible. I’m now a believer.