Tag Archives: people

Experiences from Sri Lanka – Which I will remember Forever!

I visited the beautiful island country, Sri Lanka last year December 2016, being from India I was very curious to find out being a neighboring country how different could we possibly be. Well, now I can say we are very different temperamentally, yet so similar in several ways. When we talk or write about a place we usually end up talking and discussing about the places, food and culture. What we miss out is talking about the experiences and encounters with the people and the locals of the place. So today I feel like writing about my experiences with the locals of Sri Lanka, of course not all are great, but few which are, they have really touched me in a special way and I think I will always mention (I still do) these while talking about my stay in Sri Lanka.

Sigiriya

The amusing obsession with Age: This is not really a situation I can classify as good or bad, rather it is plain amusing. I am 29 years old and as per normal society standards (that’s what most people say, I personally don’t believe in society) I do not look like a nearing 30 year old I am often told, not only by people of my country but in general by human standards (so I am always told). But I faced the most profound situations of being reminded that I do not look like my age almost 90% of the time I interacted with a local in Sri Lanka. Not sure if it is treated as an ice-breaker (quite interesting if it is) in the country, but I can almost count several instances where after a quick ‘Hi’, ‘Hello’ the very next line to me was ‘How old are you?’. First 2-3 instances I was baffled, in my mind I was thinking ‘Really?what kind of a question is that!’, but after, I started enjoying it and I used to give hilarious replies, like I am 35, with 2 kids (I am still happily not married with no kids) just for the fun of it. I am still intrigued if it was just me or if there is really something to this. Nevertheless! Very amusing I must admit!

Sigiriya.

As peaceful as can get: Well this might be a relative observation given that I belong to India. India is the epitome of chaos and craziness and every tiny situation is usually addressed with enough drama and noise, especially road and traffic situations. I happened to be a part of a road situation in Sri Lanka and the parallels of a similar in any country (rather any country) would be very different I am sure. So one of the days in Colombo I had taken an auto from my hotel to the railway station. During this ride, we happened to stop at a red traffic signal, unfortunately when the signal turned green due to some reason the auto ended my mildly brushing into a passerby on a cycle (no one was hurt). The events that followed after were thoroughly amazing! the auto driver realized that he had brushed into a cyclist and both of them started talking in a straight face manner in their local language. Very soon the traffic police intervened and after a short discussion us and the cyclist drove to the closest market and to my utter amusement I saw the auto driver got down, signaled me to wait in the auto, went to a local road side shoe store nearby, bought a pair of slippers and gave it to the cyclist. After this we were back on track and soon I was dropped off at the railway station. So! was this how a road rage situation is handled here?? i would infer what happened was that the cyclist must have demanded that a pair of slippers be bought for him and so it was agreed. I could imagine a similar situation in India where such an incident would be noisy with people hurling abuses at each other or even fists. Though I am not really very surprised, since being a Buddhism dominated country it is just befitting for the people here to be so tolerant and non-violent. Either ways I hope the peace remains and spreads on to its neighboring countries as well.

Dambulla Cave Temple

A helping hand: How often does one have the privilege of feeling cared for or to have someone go above the ordinary to help you. I was fortunate enough to have this experience. We had booked a taxi to Nuwara Eliya and during our way back we were discussing our plans of travelling to Sigiriya via a local bus the day after . The driver happened to overhear us and asked us about our plans, upon knowing he was really worried and was trying hard to convince us that going by bus was not a good idea. Later after dropping us back, he called up and arranged for us to go to Sigiriya in a taxi that was going there to pick someone else up for an extremely reasonable price. I couldn’t be more thankful to this find gentleman for taking the initiative and pain to arrange this for us without us even asking for it, just so that we could be safe. The world could use more such heroes who find the safety of others as their responsibility. Blessings to this man!!

 

Things about Goa – No one tells you about!

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My country India is huge, geographically and culturally. It is not everyplace that could be called universal, in the sense that not all places would give the comfort to come and stay for people from around the globe. But there is this one place we can all call Global with a capital ‘G’. Coincidentally the place has it name beginning with a capital G as well — Goa. Although when I say ‘Global’, I might be meaning it metamorphically than literally. Being Global is good, it could not be termed non-positive. Yet I plan to refer ‘Being Global’ in a not so good fashion. What makes me say so is more interesting!

Airfare? Boom! — Earlier this year, I planned a monsoon trip to Goa. Monsoon being an off season in Goa, I had expected the flight ticket rates from the eastern side of the country to be cheaper as compared to other seasons. The rates seemed to get no cheaper; rather it was as expensive as it gets during this season.  In fact travelling to Thailand or Singapore from the same location would cost me half the price. Now that makes this place, although within the same country not a ‘just-getup-go’ location. Though it dug a hole in my budget, I decided to go anyway

Taxi fare? Really now? — So once I landed at the airport in Goa. I headed straight to the taxi stand. Going by the usual trend, I tried my hand at bargaining. It seemed like a complete no-no. Yes! And why not? the taxi drivers were too comfortable with the prices the foreign tourists pay. So without a penny less I had to pay atrocious rates to travel to my hotel in Baga. The taxi drivers have such an air about themselves such as they know if I refuse to pay his price, & he loses a customer, he would extract double the fare from some other foreign tourist.

Cafes! Indian who? — While I waited for my friends to arrive in Baga via a separate flight & city, I decided to get dropped off at a happy looking café on the beach until my friends arrived & then we would head off too our hotel together. I had trouble understanding how the waiters were busy serving the foreign tourists in the next table and did not bother to come to my table even once, as if I weren’t even sitting there. It took me 2 shout outs to the waiters to come & take my order, with a very ‘blah’ attitude. Sad that this is the treatment I would get in my own country. Sigh!

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Menu! — I noticed an English & a Russian menu, both were there on the café table. How about a menu in Hindi menu too! Hindi! Heard of it?

Shopping! — So the very day we arrived, in the evening we were in the mood to check out some of the roadside shops & vendors. Now do they pretend to not care about you! Boy! It is depressing. I was busy flipping through the things on display and bothered to ask the price of one of the things there, an apparel to be specific. Pat! Came the reply from the vendor?

the-flea-market

‘It’s too costly’ said the vendor. What??!!!

We strode off without much fuss!

These were some of my not-so-proud experiences in Goa. It is utterly sad & beyond doubt devastating to feel like an alien in your own country. We have a saying in Sanskrit ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ meaning guests (foreign tourists in this case) are equivalent to God. I understand all that but also have you heard of the saying ‘Charity begins at home’. Be nice to the tourists who come from far flung countries but not at the expense of treating your own people like they don’t exist. Be nice! We aren’t asking your services for free, we are paying equally, respect that. How could be expect Indians to be treated well when our own people are not doing the same in our own country.

Above all, stop discriminating people on the basis of country & origin! Treat everyone equally, since we are all humans.     

 (PS: From an Indian to all the Café, hotel, shop owners, vendors & taxi drivers in GOA)

Note: I love my country & absolutely love Goa, but I would rather be honest and accept the flaws it has as well.

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