A monkey standing on a nearby crate munched a fruit. The fruit was all that existed from the monkey. The monkey's sole desire was to get the fruit into his belly as fast as possible.
"Hungry little fella."
The merchant glanced at his pet. "Oh yes, always. You think he's starving?"
"I don't know. I've never seen a monkey before. Not in person at least."
"No? They're not good pets, too much like us. I have this one because"--the merchant shrugged--"well...I guess I don't have a good reason. I let him stay and he eats fruit."
"Huh." He nodded, eyes on the monkey, watching the last of the fruit vanish.
"What can I help you with, mm?"
He turned his attention to the merchant. "I'm looking for a guide. I'll pay well."
"Mm? Where you going?"
"Into the desert. I want to stay there for--I don't know how long."
"Longer." He said. The merchant's eyes narrowed, not understanding the word. "Ah, more...More time."
"A year?" The merchant asked.
"No." He chuckled. "No. Not that long."
"Then it's good. If you will pay, I take you."
"Why not me?"
"I just figured you had this," he looked at the little stand of fruits and wares with the tarp and stick awning. He waved his hands at the makeshift storefront. "You don't need to stay here?"
"Need?" The merchant laughed. "I need food, a place to sleep," the merchant shrugged. "I try to live like my monkey friend, eh? You see? Simple. Need. What do I need to sell for. Make money? Mm? For what? To buy things, eh? But you say you'll pay."
"But I never said how much."
"So tell me. We do this. One thing at a time, eh? You tell me you need a thing. I say I can do it. You say you'll pay. Now I ask how much. Very easy. First time to my country, mm?"
"Yeah. Pretty easy to tell, huh?"
"No. You say it's first time seeing monkey. Monkeys are common in Indian. So, how much are you offering?"
There was a little back and forth. He had no idea what to offer the merchant for what he wanted. The time they would be in the desert might be as short as a week or as long as six months. As it turned out, having the merchant serve as a guide was the best thing that could have happened. The merchant, with all his connections, was able to secure regular food and supply deliveries.
He learned to meditate only a couple weeks earlier and was determined to understand it as best he could. He did not know what he was getting himself into. He soon learned.