Athithi Devo Bhava @Inverness!!

Being in England for internship, the girls gang decided to utilize the Easter break by visiting Scotland. The first reaction anyone had while hearing the name of the destination was “wow!! It is very beautiful” and a gave us a list of things to be done. With very little planning and basic bookings we headed to Glasgow. As usual we explored the city on foot looking at maps, asking people for directions or calling the hotel guys to reach certain place. A quick realization I had was that the lack of a vehicle actually helps you explore the city better. I am confident enough to show you around the city as i walked all those streets and also got lots of time to click pictures 🙂

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The bridge that made us disoriented!!

After exploring few places in Scotland we reached the city of Inverness late in the evening. We did not research much about the place and  we didn’t know the postcode of the hotel. This made it difficult to locate in the Google maps. The receptionist of the hostel told that if we walked by the river Ness and then take a left at “Rosedean” (still not sure what it is) and come up the hill we would reach the hostel in 15 to 20 minutes. Being on a tight budget we walked by the river carrying the heavy luggage. It was a long day and we had our share of walking before reaching this place. We were told that Scotland is famous for drunkards. This made us hesitant to ask any guy who was not walking straight. Like us, many had decided to take a break for Easter at Inverness as whoever we asked for directions were tourists and could not help us. While walking on that lonely road by the river side the first thing my friend told was that someone told her that “Inverness is famous for pickpockets”. This made me a little nervous for the first time walking in England. However i carried as i decided not to give voice to my inhibitions. After walking for an eternity ( that’s what we felt) we met an old couple who were from Inverness. When asked for the address, the lady constantly mentioned that she heard the road but she could not figure out where was it. So we asked about “Rosedean house” and she knew where it was (It was a relief as we were sure the place exists!!!)

After a big discussion among themselves they came to conclusion that we need to walk by the river and we would get Rosedean at a junction and take a left. Before leaving they asked where we came from. I and my friend proudly told “India” .Hearing the name, I saw a big smile on their face which was very refreshing. After watching movies like “Slum dog Millionaire” i always thought that the notion people had about India was that it is filled with beggars or people who would con any outsider. But their expressions wiped all such thoughts. They told us that they had been to India three weeks back and had an amazing experience. They saw Delhi, Darjeeling, Gangtok for 4 days each. At Delhi they stayed at Gurgaon at the Taj. Their son’s friends had a party on the occasion of 50th marriage anniversary of their parents. They were invited for the same. During the stay, the hotel guys arranged for transport to see the place around(No wonder they got great hospitality 😉 ) They also mentioned that they had a toy train ride in Darjeeling and went early morning to the tiger hill to see the sunrise. Due to the clouds they didn’t get to see it. But were glad that while returning they saw the sunrise. They liked these places as it was cool like Scotland.

After a cheerful conversation they sympathized with us since we had to take a long walk to reach that place. After collecting information about the things we could do in Inverness we took leave and headed in the direction we were told to. The further way was very lonely as we could not find a single person. A car would pass once a while. Lonely road and two girls walking with no idea about which direction. We could not even find the famous Rosedean house after walking for a long while. My friend was worried. She was like “We must have taken a wrong road”. While i was wondering what to do, a red car approached us saying “We are here to help you. Welcome to India”. It was the same old couple with car. They were like “ We are here to drop to you to the hotel”. I could not believe that. My friend was confused. I had to explain her that these guys came to help us. They were like “ We received so much hospitality in India that we wanted to do something in return”. That reminded me of the verse most commonly used in India “Athithi devo bhava”. While driving, the lady told “You won’t find the peep-peep(she meant horns) or lots of people here”. While i replied “That is the sad part. Back in India if we were lost we could just ask someone. But here its difficult to find a person to ask.” I remember in Glencoe we were lost. We had to reach Glencoe village and there was no sign indicating if we were in the right direction and no one on the road for guidance. At a distance we found a guy walking to his vehicle. My friend had to run leaving all her luggage behind and stop the vehicle to ask for directions. To our bad luck we walked almost a mile in the wrong direction. But we thank god that we dint proceed in that direction. After getting into the car we didn’t reach our place soon. They were not sure of the place yet, but ready to find it out for us. The lady had got a map with her. I was checking in the Google map simultaneously. It was now showing that we have to go for about 2 miles in the some direction to reach the place. My friend was worried that we had to walk all this way. They showed us the “Rosedean”. It had no name indicating the same. If the couple had not arrived I wonder if we would recognize and reach the place. After going ahead for a  while the lady realized that we have come ahead and so took a right about turn and came back to that road and finally reached the hotel. The first thing that came out of my mouth was “Shukriya”. They were pleased to listen. I gather that they had learnt few words of hindi in India. They folded their hands and told “Namaste” . We reciprocated the same. They told that back in India no one did that often. That was realization, Our own tradition had to be reminded by a foreigner. I asked for their names so that I never forget them. It was Jeff and Moreen( first time i remember someone’s names). I was so glad with their favour that i asked for their numbers so that if they happen to come to India next time i could return their favours. The lady was frank. She told that they had no plans to come to India. They would like to see other places. I could understand their feelings so  did not insist. After dropping us to the guest house they left back to their house.

I am not sure what hospitality they received in India. But we received the rewards of that experience. It was moment to be proud of India and its the value system. It was an experience of the lifetime.

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