Ow.  Owie.  Ouch.  Ok that hurts.

My face had just been shaved by an Indian barber in a sketchy alleyway barbershop.  Now the barber was rubbing some sort of aftershave all over my neck, and it burned.

I took a moment to wonder just how I ended up in such a ridiculous situation.

Oh yeah… When Deshpande asked if I wanted a shave, I said “yes.”


The busy alleyway where I got my face shaved.


That three letter word has led me to some interesting places over the last few years.  Hitchhiking in Haiti, beekeeping in Ukraine, whitewater rafting in Panama… It seems like every time someone asks if I want to do something new I just can’t help myself.

I always say “yes.”

This trip to India is no exception.  Having my face shaved by a strange man in an alley was probably one of the least crazy things I’ve done so far…

Kanta’s Place

Last week I spoke with Steve Smith (volunteer coordinator for Truthseekers) about the idea of spending some time living in the home of Kanta, an OBC leader working with Truthseekers.  We both thought it would be a great way for me to understand what life is really like for people in that area.

Kanta’s home. Their bed acts as a couch and dining room too.

Unfortunately, after several days of waiting it looked as if it wasn’t going to pan out.  I had pretty much given up on the idea when out of the blue, Pranjal (also on staff with Truthseekers) approached me and said, “So, do you still want to go and stay at Kanta’s place?”

“Sure!” I said.  “When will that be?  Tomorrow?  This weekend?”

“You leave in one hour.”

I laughed and said, “Well ok then.  Let me go pack my things…”

Before I knew it, I was getting into an auto rickshaw with a lady who spoke only broken English, driving for an hour across New Delhi and sitting down for chai in a tiny two room apartment with the sounds of car horns and wedding drums coming from the impoverished neighborhood outside.

Saying “yes” doesn’t usually lead to such extremes.  :-)

After chai, we walked around the block and chatted for a little while with Kanta’s college-age neighbor. Then Kanta asked if I wanted to go to the market with her husband to pick up food for dinner.  “He does not speak English,” she informed me.

Again, I couldn’t help myself.  I said yes.

She led me outside.  There, waiting for me on a scooter was Kanta’s husband, Gyangi.  He gestured for me to get on.  So, I jumped on the back and off we went.

My visit to the market was… memorable to say the least!

The Market

To get to the market, we drove down busy streets, dodging cars, people, stray dogs and cows along the way.  The smells quickly alternated between garbage, delicious food, sewage and incense.  People were shouting, horns were blaring, dogs were barking… It was sensory overload.

And I loved every minute of it.

After arriving in the market, Gyangi went up to buy some fish, leaving me standing next to a large bucket full of wriggling and apparently miserable catfish (Yep.  There was no water in the bucket and young boys kept picking them up by their gills.  I’d say they were pretty miserable.).

Next to the fish seller was a meat stall that must have been called The Nasty Bits.  Intestines, tongues, ankles and a bowl of… are those… eyeballs?

Let’s just say that I had every finger and toe crossed hoping that Gyangi wouldn’t offer me some. Thankfully my fears proved unfounded, and I did not have to eat roasted chicken face or something (ok, I made that one up), but it was a close call.

You see, I’ll try anything once.  If someone offers me some new food to eat, I’ll always say, you guessed it… “yes.”

Like the time Sunil offered me stupidly spicy green chilies while we were eating samosas at a roadside restaurant…


The last few days have been filled with “Yes” as well.

On Monday, I had the chance to participate in a footwashing ceremony in a small village outside of Lucknow (more on that in an upcoming article).  During the ceremony, I turned to Steve and said, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could spend the night here, too?”

I did NOT say “yes” to provoking these angry cows.

He replied, “Hmm… Maybe you can.”

So, during a lull in the program, Steve spoke with Sunil, Deshpande and a few villagers.  He came back and told me that he thought it actually could work.

“So do you really want to stay here?” he asked.

My answer, of course, was “yes.”

The Village

One hour later the bus was gone and I was drinking chai with two elderly people named Bhuiyandin Pal and Parmeshvary Devi in the small village of Sadullakheda, an hour outside of Lucknow.

Deshpande and I were on our own… and we had no idea how we would make it back to Delhi.  Saying “yes” had once more led me deep into the unknown.

Thankfully, my time in the village turned out to be fantastic. It gave me a whole new understanding of what life is like for the majority of rural Indians and allowed me to get a glimpse into a lifestyle I never could have imagined ten years ago.

Another great reason to say “yes” often… babies!!!

We ate some tasty food, I slept on a table, and I even had a staring contest with a buffalo.

It was awesome!

And it all happened because I never stopped saying a small but powerful word…



I don’t know what my next weird experience will be.  I’m not sure what crazy food I’ll eat next.  I have no idea just where I’ll end up.

But the next time someone asks if I want to do something new, you can guess what my answer will be…

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About the Author: Barry is the founder and Executive Director of World Next Door. A storyteller, traveller and giant nerd, he lives to compel suburban Americans to get engaged with social justice and find their place in God's kingdom revolution. His ultimate dream is to adopt a pet monkey named Kevin.

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  1. Jim.M said... 


    November 26th, 2010 at 2:36 am  

    Cows in the street, out door barbers shaving people, and a hundred horns honking over strange food cooked on the street, eating with friends from tin, and ceramic bowls….”toto, this isn’t Kansas anymore”.

    Here… we are worried about if we should limit toys with children’s meals containing more than 600 calories, people use little plastic bags to pick up after their dogs, if your car is too loud you pay a fine, do the ceramic mugs have lead in them, and on and on…

    Yes…. I wondered what we were supposed to see in this story, it just seemed too…well lets say soft,… and then as I sat at Thanksgiving dinner today, it came to me. This story, in a way is holding a mirror up to all of us. A mirror so that we can take a look at ourselves, our life, what we have, where we are, what we are doing with what we have.

    Yes…something about a speck of sawdust, and a plank or something…came to mind.

    I don’t know where others went with this but there you have it, my nutty view….I really loved all the loud horns in the video, and the expectant look on the guys face across the table from you when you chomped into that chili.

    Safe travels friend.

    Yes…this was a cool article.

  2. Keith Carlson said... 


    November 29th, 2010 at 9:25 am  

    I’m laughing about the nasty bits!

  3. Shelli said... 


    November 29th, 2010 at 6:38 pm  

    keep saying yes… it makes for good reading!!!!

  4. Rob said... 


    November 30th, 2010 at 1:57 pm  

    Okay, so I’m willing to say yes to some stuff, but I think the eyeballs and other miscellaneous culinary tidbits would have me saying ‘no thanks’.
    As I read, I was struck by how often I probably default to no or maybe. Thanks for the prodding.

  5. Rebekah Sardar said... 


    December 3rd, 2010 at 2:02 am  

    i’m grateful for how well you articulate the place i so proudly call home. :)

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