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A woman wary of thieves in India finds a legion of helpers instead

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Time now for My Unsung Hero, our series from the team at Hidden Brain. My Unsung Hero tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression on someone else. Today's story comes from Sri Pisharody. A few years ago, Pisharody, her daughter and her mother flew to India together. On that long flight road, Pisharody told her daughter what to expect.

SRI PISHARODY: I told my daughter, you know, in India it's crowded. You have to stick with me. And never trust the police officers or the autorickshaw drivers because everybody wants a bribe, and they'll try to cheat you. And, you know, you have to be careful. So once we reached India, you know, I packed up our passports, our documents and all of that into a little bag, a briefcase. And we loaded ourselves into an autorickshaw to head down to the train station. All three of us got out. I paid the autorickshaw driver. I turned around to make sure my mom and my daughter were next to me. And before I knew it, the autorickshaw driver drove away with our briefcase that had everything in it.

And I just - my heart sank. I started quivering. I didn't know what to do. And my mom, who was around 70 at that time, said, you know what? I'm going to go to the police station. And my daughter and I were standing there at the foot of the steps to the train station. And before we knew it, a bunch of autorickshaw drivers came to us, and they were asking us, what is the problem? So we told them we left our bag in the autorickshaw. And I was just so surprised because immediately, they began going around the town and the marketplace and all that, trying to locate this autorickshaw driver.

And then as we were doing this, my mom drives up with this big entourage of police officers, And they also go searching out in the city. As all this chaos is going on, the autorickshaw driver who dropped us off comes slowly back to the train station and says, you left your bag in the car. And everything was in place - the cash, the passports, the documents. I just immediately thought of what I told my daughter that day when we were flying to India, to never trust autorickshaw drivers and police officers. It just renewed my faith in humanity. But it also taught me that, you know, miracles really do happen.

KELLY: Sri Pisharody lives in Tracy, Calif. And you can find more stories from My Unsung Hero wherever you get your podcasts. To share the story of your unsung hero, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to myunsunghero@hiddenbrain.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.