I was outside Athens Railway Station, Greece. My wife and I were waiting for our one of our family friends, to pick us up. This was in 1983.
Just then, a 25-30 year old youngster from Netherlands approached us to check whether we need a hotel room. I said ‘no’. But, he prolonged the chat.
He: Why sir? Won’t you need a room to stay?
Me: We will be staying with a friend and are waiting for him to pick us up. Where are you from?
He: I am from Netherlands. I just completed my studies. I have been wandering the world for the last 3-4 years to experience and understand people and places. I earn money by providing services to tourists in the cities I visit. As soon as I earn adequate money, I visit my next destination.
He continued: Are you from India?
Me: Yes. What do you know about India? (At that time, India was not very well known to people in Europe)
He: I love Indians more than any one else in the world. I take two vacations every year. Out of the two, I ensure that I visit India at least once.
He then named about 20-25 small towns from all over India, particularly from Tamilnadu, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal that he had visited. He then told us in detail how well the Indians treated him in the small villages and farms on his visit.
Me: What do you think is the difference between the culture in India and Europe?
He: Pardon Sir ……. , probably I heard you wrong?
Me: In your opinion what is the difference in the culture between India and your country?
He then said: I heard that Sir, but your question is wrong, Sir. You have an unbelievable rich culture. When I went to any of the places including towns and villages, even the poorest of poor, whether farmers or petty shop owner, ensured that the food and shelter requirements of the visitors are taken care before they care for their own. Here, even if a daughter takes a rose flower to her mother’s birthday, she collects the dollar, the cost of the flower.
There is nothing of such culture that exists in Europe. Comparison can be only if it exists at both the places. In this case, culture does not exist at all in our region. Hence there cannot be any comparison.”
Every courtesy we extent to our guests makes our country and culture, more respectable and memorable. Let us keep it up!
Experienced and Written By: Badri Baldawa