Monday, 16 August 2010

Can you become an extraordinary salesperson?

Every town has a Saturday market, but in the whole of India, you will not find a tougher weekly market than the one that takes place in Shurasena. A dozen spice merchants compete to offer the lowest prices and, if you are planning to buy a camel, choices in Shurasena are more numerous than the hairs of a squirrel.

Like all philosophers, Krishna loved to go the market. In the morning, he traded his medicinal herbs for coins, and in the afternoon, he used those to purchase fish and salt. Every week, he did the same, and the path he walked to the market was the path he walked to return home.

One Saturday in July, after Krishna had bought a trout and an ounce of salt and was about to leave the market, he saw a kid, barely a man, sitting on the ground and weeping bitterly. "Crying makes birds fly higher," said Krishna to the kid, who stopped sobbing and lifted his head.

"Will you have a lemonade?" asked the boy with a trembling voice, as he got to his feet and pointed at a two-wheel cart next to him. Ripe lemons and mountain ice were lying on the cart, as well as six glasses and a tin jar. A banner on the cart read "Dhiren's Cold Lemonade."

The kid's question was as incongruous as misplaced hope can be, since ten yards away, there was a public fountain. "I am Dhiren," he announced shyly. "If I don't sell enough lemonade, tonight I will not have a room to stay." The whole scene was so pathetic that, if Krishna had had any coins left, he would have drunk several glasses.

"Would you sell more if you had no fear?" inquired Krishna. Dhiren nodded and explained that he had not sold a single glass of lemonade in the whole day. The ice on the cart was melting and Dhiren had been weeping because he had lost all confidence in himself.

"I have done my best," Dhiren went on sadly, "but there must be something wrong with me, since nobody in the world wants to buy my lemonade." Krishna smiled, for he knew better. In Dhiren's doubts, Krishna had recognized himself as he had been a long time ago and no longer was.

"Changing oneself is often harder than changing the world," commented Krishna, laying his hand on one of the wheels and signalling Dhiren to push the cart forward. The wheels squeaked as they rolled on Market Square and the narrow streets of Shurasena.

When Dhiren asked where they were going, Krishna just repeated his mysterious words about change. An hour later, they crossed the south port of Shurasena and, right outside the walls of the ancient city, they met a long caravan of pilgrims that had just arrived from the desert.

As soon as the pilgrims saw Dhiren's banner, they dismounted their camels, and walked to the cart. By the time all ice had melted, Dhiren had sold more glasses of lemonade than in the previous three months. With success, his smile and confidence returned to him.

When the day was over, Dhiren was a different man, sure of himself and fearless of the future. He searched long amongst the pilgrims, since he would have liked to express his thanks, but Krishna was already gone. The night fell and Dhiren found that, although the stars had not changed, he was living in a different world.


[Image by Fr Antunes under Creative Commons Attribution License. See the license terms under]

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