Sunday 23 April 2017

When An Absolute Stranger Makes You Realize You are #MoreIndianThanYouThink (A Tribute)

Baal-Vivaah, much as to what many of my generation would call it, I got married at the age of 22, when I just a few months old to my job. A new work life and a newly married life had commenced for me simultaneously and I felt I had too much on my platter. I creaked and clinched under the pressure and had it not been my man, I would not have survived it. As I started to get in groove and fall in love all the more with him, I was transferred to Thailand on a special project for three months. Games of destiny you see.

This was my maiden international journey and though my employers have arranged for everything, I was as nervous and scared as a claustrophobic person confined to a box-like dark cell. Nevertheless, as it was vital to my career and darling ‘S’ pushed me to grab the opportunity, I took the challenge head on.

I have already started missing him as he dropped me at the airport and kissed me goodbye. Staying strong I boarded the four hour long flight and despite of the most cordial and affectionate staff of Lufthansa Airlines (it was just the beginning of my perennial bonding with them and I was touched by their hospitality and kindness), I puked my way to Bangkok. Gosh! It wasn't a good start but there I was in what I felt was an alien country. I fetched the map from my passport folder and hired an airport cab to the hotel where I would be putting up initially. Welcoming me with an early check-in facility at 5a.m., the hotel staff too tried to rid me my self-imposed fears too. I presented a strong me everywhere as against whatever I felt inside. We Indians are conditioned not to exhibit our weaknesses and that’s the first value our Indian roots embed in our hearts.

Gradually as I warmed up to the Thai, I became more comfortable during my stay at Bangkok. Some colleagues at work even took me around on the weekends and apprised me with the Indian corners of the city like the Paranthe Waali Gali. Bangkok was actually #MoreIndianThanYouThink and I was ecstatic to discover it ounce by ounce. I came to know the origin of the world famous Thai Massages lied in India too from where the Buddhist carried them to Thailand. My office was situated in Ayuthya named on Ayodhya of our Ramayana and there were several other connections like the Samundramanthan display at Swarnabhoomi International airport.

That's Me at SwarnaBhoomi Airport!

This kind of reinforced my belief that that world is a lot smaller and closer now and all of us belonged to each other. A particular incident though brought me closest to this feeling and a decade later it still warms my heart.While I preferred not going out late night on the streets of Bangkok, on one rare day I got really late in returning from work. Every Tuk-Tuk I stopped wanted to take me on the pretext on having 2-3 stops in between. I knew the meaning, what those stops meant late night and even if I was thinking really weird it wasn't at all safe that late. Despite of trying really hard, I couldn't fetch a drive back to the room and with time I felt more worried and weal in my knees. I decided to try my luck with the next set of 3 Tuk-Tuk Waalas standing just at the turn of the dark street.

But alas they made the same offer and kind of forced me to accept it. That's when a cab stopped right beside me and a Thai looking elderly guy spoke to me in a peculiar yet familiar accent,

"Beta, kahan jaana hai, mein chod deta hoon aapko.( Child where do you want to go, come I will drop you)."

Aah! Those Hindi words were like a magic I expected that dreadful moment. An unknown faith made me jump into his taxi and he did safely escort me back without even charging a fare. I acted as per my instinct as this I guess is a very special power we Indians possess, we can often gauge at first glance whom trust and  that night that absolute stranger acted as my ultimate saviour though I still had my pepper spray and my pre-meditated karate attack moves ready. On the way he shared with me how his grandfather was an Indian and he has his roots in India. He had spent a few years on his childhood there too and so he speaks Hindi. His prudence and my wisdom, which were more #MoreIndianThanYouThink aided us turn the situation in our favour that fateful night...the thought of what could have happened otherwise still perplexes me. I was so glad I found him and heaved a sigh of relief and we made it look like he was an acquaintance from my place.

He was a thorough gentleman and tried every bit to make me comfortable. Such great support from a stranger at midnight in the streets made me bow my head in reverence to him and this post is my heartfelt tribute to him. We did have an instant connection, that lead to our winning way that night, defying all odds, and that was #MoreIndianThanYouThink though his skin tone and features defied that, exactly like the Lufthansa flight way back home, where I was greeted with a Namaste and also served with real drool worthy Indian food ..I knew how they lived up to their commercial I append below. That personal touch works therapeutic wonders with who is flying with them and the bond which is established in the process is that of a lifetime. Who'll say they are not Indians by birth, they think, eat and Live Indian.
I reached back home safe and elated and as I ran to hug ‘S’, I shared with him how I come back with a more confident heart, full of warm memories of places, people and gestures which are #MoreIndianThanYouThink and how we rub it on everyone we have met in the past centuries and still continue to do so.. These memories still tinkle my soul and shall stay in the warmest corner of my heart forever inspiring me always, in ways umpteen.

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