This picture is kind of amazing. I took it aboard the Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls. My mom, Hubby and I were taking the boat tour at the bottom of the falls on my 28th birthday.
As if the incredible view of the water wasn't enough, a rainbow and an eagle - that's right, an eagle - appeared as though from thin air when I pulled out my camera. Talk about being in the right place at the right time.
It was a day full of kismet and it began as we stood in line for tickets for the boat tour. A family of 5 or 6 Indians was in front of us. I overheard one of the men in the group tell the ticketmaster that they were celebrating a birthday. Excitedly, I chimed in that it was my birthday too, and jokingly told the ticket lady that I was part of their group and to put my ticket on their tab.
They laughed. We laughed. We struck up a conversation while we waited.
They lived in Canada and had family visiting from India for the summer. We had just moved here from the States and my mom came from Florida to spend the week with us.
An older gentleman whom I assume was the patriarch of the family stood there proudly in his khaki pants, tucked in shirt and turban. He was full of joy and laughter when he turned to the ticket lady with money in his hand and told her he'd be paying for the three of us as well.
"No, no no!" we exclaimed. "We were kidding!"
It was another $60 added onto his already expensive bill. Why on earth would he offer to pay for a bunch of random people he didn't know?
He turned to us with a serious expression and said that he was happy to give us this gift if we would tell others about the Indians who showed a random act of kindness to an American family. Everyone in his family nodded in agreement.
I was stunned. I could also read between the lines. But then he said it: "We are not all bad, you know."
My heart broke for this man who seemed so jovial but was quietly dragging with him this terrible baggage. Even at Niagara Falls while celebrating a birthday he couldn't escape the feeling that he had to somehow prove that he wasn't a terrorist. What a thing to carry.
We protested some more but he wouldn't take no for an answer. He paid the clerk and we thanked them all from the bottom of our hearts, exchanged hugs and well-wishes and then parted ways.
Of course we bumped into them a few more times that afternoon - in the elevator as we rode up to the boat landing, on the Maid of the Mist and then again in the gift shop. We would wave and laugh and thank them again but no more words were exchanged between us.
What could we say that would make it all right?
What could we do?
Sadly, nothing. Except share this story as he wished.
Welcome! I'm a pie-baking, dog-loving, antique-hunting patriot. I'm a fan of rustic home cooking, the Yankees and scenic drives through the mountains.