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“You are guest in my country”

By the time I arrived at the bus station in Udaipur I had only 20 minutes before my bus departed.  No one in the area spoke any meaningful amount English.  I quickly realized that few Western tourists travel by bus.  I guess the Indian tourism council had not yet caught up with the multibillion dollar backpacker industry.

I went over to the attendant, point at my ticket, and say “Jaipur”.  He points the direction of the buses.  I walk over and all the buses are in Hindi.  This is different as the last bus I took was in both Hindi and English.  I find another attendant, hand him my paper, and he mills it over with two other non-English speakers.  After about five minutes I realize that I’m going to miss my bus if these guys keep going at this rate so I start looking around for help.

I see an Indian guy in his early 20s who is dressed up a bit more Western.  General rule of thumb when you travel is the more Western the dress, the better the person’s English is.

“Do you speak English?” I ask.

“Yes. More British English. But what is question?” he replies.

“I’m going to Jaipur on an A/C bus. Do you know where that is?”

“One minute.”  He goes and gets the paper from the guys. “You are on private bus.  It is not here”

I only have 10 minutes now, and I really want to get out of Updaipur.  If I have to walk by another stinky goat I’m going to freak out.

“You are right down road.  Follow me.”

“Thanks,” I said, “you are really saving me.”

“It’s ok.  You are guest in my country so I help you.”

His name was Rishi, and he was studying to be a doctor at a college in the next state over.  We hurry across the busy Udaipur street and arrive at the private bus station.  With five minutes to spare we had arrived at the right one.

Figuring that he was in school I figured he was born into a well off family.  I did not know if it was right or not to offer money for his help.

“Can I say thank you?” I said and pulled out my wallet.

“Yes” he said, misunderstanding the gesture.

I pulled out 100 rupees.

“No,” he refused. “I am not poor.  You are guest in my country.”

With that he walked off.  I got in line for my bus.  He returned a few minutes later, “I miss my bus, but it ok I catch next one.”

That guy missed his bus to help out a total stranger.  He saved the day for me though.  I almost definitely would have missed my bus.  I get the feeling that Indians in the touristy areas of, even the poor and uneducated ones, have a good understanding of how important tourism is to their lives.  The Hinduism religion teaches to worship the forces help or hurt you.  I feel that because this is deeply rooted in their religion, it becomes part of their personalities, and you often see selfless acts like that.

I experienced a similar situation in Jaipur one night when I returned to my hotel after hours.  I had to wake up the owner so he could let me in.  I told him I was sorry, and he replied, “You are my guest.  Guest is my god.”

It seems that in polytheistic religions, people create gods around the forces that affect their lives.  There are major gods like Brahma, who is the creator of the universe, and then there are lesser gods like Balarama, who is the god of farming.  Indian farmers pray to Balarama when they need a good harvest.  Perhaps this man prayed to the god of Western tourism.  We’ll call him Gringorama.  Make sacrifice or you will be cursed with bad ratings on hostelbooker.com.

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