I am always drawn to places and societies where one can have real interactions with real people. Going out in Kolkata makes that happen everyday. I am headed home and get off the bus to walk some 10-15 minutes before I reach our apartment. It is extremely humid, and I am drenched in sweat, about to die of thirst. So I stop by the local sweets shop, and ask for the water jug for a sip (it is free). I don't know the owner personally. The owner not only forwards me the water jug, but also hands me a gujiya, a kind of sweet, for free. He smiles and says, "এটা খান, ভালো লাগবে।" (Have this, you will feel better).
I don't think he goes around distributing free sweets, but it is that moment, a moment when someone is dying of thirst and a kind man not only offers that, but offers something to eat as well. Your Big Bazaar and other chain stores with uniformed people working there and talking to the local customers in English will never do this for you, even if they wanted to, because there are cameras watching them and they are accountable for every rupee. My ma does not understand why I try to boycott buying from or going to malls and chain stores. I do not care to choose from ten different varieties of rice and wheat, or get that 10% discount when I purchase goods for a thousand rupees or more. I do not care about fattening the pockets of the already rich. I want human interaction. And I want my money to go to the local people. I don't just care about the product I am getting. I also care about where my money is going.