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My experience and his knowledge …

Different cultures, different mentality, different way of dealing with things. Not better or worse, just different.

I met a very interesting man in Varanasi who shared quite some wisdom on culture, differences and burning procedures. I thougt of him today while waiting in line to buy train tickets at the railway station.

At the booth in the main building the lady told me I had to go to another building across the street. So I did. It said Foreigners, Senior Citizens, Journalists, Humanright activists, Disabled on the sign. So I was waiting in line and an indian man that didn’t look neither disabled, foreign nor very senior squeezed himself infront of me. You’ll have to wait for your turn I told him. I am a senior citizen and I am in a hurry, he said.

The argument that followed was loud and repetitive and he continued to squeeze his body next to mine a bit from the side now. Me constantly telling him to back off, him constantly telling me he is a senior and pushing his body against mine. I get my ticket and try to read what it says to make sure everything is ok. That is when this pushy and very loud man suddenly turns to a purring kitten and in a soft voice telling me When you get to Ajmer you will find the bus to Pushkar just outside the station.

This is one of the beauties with India. You can have an argument and it can get serious but that has nothing to do with next issue. No hard feelings.

This man in Varanasi works at the hotel I stayed. He thinks he is 45-ish. When I was born no one knew how to read or write so that wasn’t documented. The family consists of wife, four children and probably other relatives is, as many other families, supported by him when working in the city. His way is very calm, grounded and you instantly feel very safe with this man. One day we were both sitting in the lobby when a group of natives entered for check in.

The whole lobby was in a second filled with a massive sound of different voices talking simultaneously and extremely loud. This continued for at least thirty minutes before everyone had gone to their rooms. Then he came back to his seat, looked at me and said This is the way Indians work. They are very loud. And when they are I have to be loud too. This is just the way Indians are. We are loud and we shout a lot.

Appart from being loud there is another big difference between Europeans and Indians, he continued. When a European asks for directions or have any other question I only have to give them the answer once, they say thank you and we part. When an Indian asks a question you have to tell him the same thing over and over again, he said. This is the Indian way, he said.

This man, a Hindu, is one of those beautiful and wise souls. I listened to him, to his memories and stories. They were all worth hearing.