Why You Can't Compliment in India (India, Post 4)

Sumitra is 20 years old, mother of two (newly pregnant!), wife by love-marriage (as opposed to arranged), effortlessly beautiful, hard worker and encourager. Her voice is deep, husky, and gentle. She is an amazing mother to her daughter Mahima and an example to the other women in the slum. From what I can tell Mahima is kind of like the community baby, haha (and there are plenty of babies to choose from)! Everybody loves her and wants to hold her and she is happy to crawl from person to person. Sumitra barely speaks English but is one of my dearest friends here and has already made such an impact on me.

A couple of weeks ago she walked in wearing a pair of small earrings with rhinestones in the top and a pearl hanging down. I loved them and told her so, and she said, “I will give to you” and laughed. I laughed too because I thought she was joking. Right before I left she pulled them out of her ears and pressed them into my hand repeating “take, take” so I did because I knew she really wanted to give them to me. I wear them every day.

This is a common theme here and was not the last time someone gave us what we politely admired. I’m learning not to compliment as frequently because they might just end up giving you whatever it is you like. ;)

So many times I hear people mindlessly complimenting others and I often wonder if they meant to encourage the other person or gain favor with everyone… Sincerity is important. Generosity is transformational.