Wednesday, 17 July 2013

American Hospitality


Fire works lit the sky

I had my maiden trip to the US, the land of perfume, in June 2006. The purpose was to visit my brother in LA. But, just before boarding the flight, I was a bit nervous. For, besides visiting my bro, I planned to attend Prem Rawat Maharaj Ji’s [also known as Guru Maharaj and Balayogeshwar, is a native of India, who teaches a meditation practice he calls Knowledge] meetings to be held in and around LA; meet the congregation thereat and have interaction with them.

Raised in a closed and conservative environment and tied to a restrictive cultural stake, I had been an introvert for long … a pants wearing frog living in the well. So, I worried about my shyness … worried about how the Americans, as they belong to a high-strung, no-holds-barred, permissive society, would be disposed to a brawny Asian. I knew it was only my misconception. Nevertheless, it was nagging at my mind all through my journey.

 4th of July, 2006. America was celebrating her Independence Day. I saw congregations of well-dressed white people standing or sitting in the meadows in a park. Children were screaming with joy and some of them peddling their tiny cycles around the park. A happy, festive mood hung in the air. All necks remained craned to the sky, eyes too riveted on it.

My bro’s family and I were sitting in a lonely meadow shawled with mists. Since we felt the place was not comfortable to watch the fireworks, we shifted ourselves to another place strewn with dried and dead leaves. When the show was about to start, we found we’d missed our car keys in the place where we were sitting minutes back. We rushed to the spot and started googling for them. We got disappointed thinking we would be missing the fireworks if we would search for the damned car keys.

When we were wringing our hands in utter helplessness, I saw an American lady coming to our rescue. She introduced herself as Dorothy Lessing -- may be a Brit American. She said:’Hi, I know what you are searching. Please go watch the fireworks and let me find out your keys.’ She smiled at us and then engaged herself in ‘the operation-search-keys’. We were a bit hesitant and then, at her persistent insistence, moved reluctantly a few yards from the meadow and started watching the grand sky show.

Lit by the fireworks, the sky looked more ominous than ever with a potpourri of colors. Sparks of light traveled across the sky; they suddenly transformed themselves into shapes of lions, tigers, elephants and deer. Then we saw a fully blossomed flower with honeybees swarming it. There were shadows of men and women holding hands; an American flag was found fluttering. Crowds screamed with joy and excitement. We stood mesmerized, unable to take out our eyes from the sky.

After regaling the crowds with their amazing feats of lights, the fireworks came to an end and the sky became grey again. People started leaving the park and the cacophonies of car horns brought us out of our trance.

‘Enjoyed the fireworks,’ Lessing asked us. She stood before us letting out her captivating smile, our car keys in her hand. She didn’t watch the fireworks, but spent her time in tracking down our keys.

‘Sorry, Lessing’, I sputtered as I was intrigued by a sort of guiltiness. ‘It’s because of us you couldn’t watch the fireworks.’

‘Oh, no, she laughed. ‘I can watch the fireworks next year, but you can’t. You’re our guests … going to be here for some time.’

‘What a hospitality,’ I exclaimed, overwhelming with emotions.

 ‘Please say American hospitality’, Lessing laughed again, and in no time disappeared into the crowd.

While the sky still remained calm and grey, I had a lot of fireworks going on in my mind which ultimately burnt out all my misconceptions about US and the citizens. The country now seemed not the land of perfume, but the land of hospitality.

I could still smell the perfume of Lessing’s hospitality.

Image courtesy: Google

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for your visit and comments. Happy times.

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  2. Wow what a great American Hospitality....Really above appreciation..
    And I am glad you wrote about it so our fellow Indians read the post and learn something from them...
    Even in India we say 'Atithi Devo Bhava' but we really don't care at all...

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  3. Wow..this really makes us think....thanks for sharing Sir..

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  4. An interesting anecdote .I like your style of writing.

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  5. Great experience, and what a wonderful woman!

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  6. yeah it is like feeling desh in pardesh...a phrase used by my Dad in Hindi. Great woman. My dad who is an avid traveller had a similar experience in Moscow. An octogenarian who loves free individual travel he has similar stories about how he was just so touched by the hospitality of people everywhere he went. And I think it is this fragrance that is leading him to Portugal, Spain and Rome now.
    Perfume of hospitality as u put it so rightly.
    Touching experience and it felt gr8...ur narration of the scenario and what really was worth remembering apart from the fireworks and all. Fourth of July... The lost keys and Dorothy Lessing. I know one Lessing who is a writer and now I know another. Thanks to u. :)

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  7. Oh such a wonderful experience in foreign land!
    A nice reading.

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  8. Sir,I think that is probably one of the best experiences ever in a foreign land! I totally wish that we Indians as well treat our guests with the best of our hospitable genes :) Fabulous write-up sir! Thoroughly enjoyed :)

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  9. Beautiful write up and a great woman.

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  10. Nice write up, Thumbs up to the great woman :)

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  11. That is an expression of pride in ones country!

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  12. what a lady she was. I am so happy that your first encounter with AMerican Hospitality turned out to be so pleasant. very nice write up :)

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  13. What a wonderful lady! Glad that you were treated so well even in Pardes :)

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  14. Hospitality and India for me somehow doesn't go hand in hand... Glad that it worked for you in US. :)

    Dropping by Writing on the go

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  15. Sir,good to know your amazing experience in America ..I feel hospitality is dependent on an Individual although as a country American culture is free to accept people from around the globe.
    They celebrate 6th July lot more enthusiastically than we celebrate 15th August .... thats forsure !

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  16. I too had my inhibitions about the country when I came here few months back. But it has been a good experience so far! Pretty, friendly folks they are!

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  17. Its nice to know about your experience in US. It is not only hospitality but they do have many more good things which we do not copy. Unfortunately we have copied all those things that they did and regretted. We need to copy their discipline, honesty, punctuality, ethics, respect for human life and so many other virtues that we are truly lacking in our Society.

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  18. That was a good experience for you! :)

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  19. I too had misconceptions that have been cleared now. Loved the post.

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  20. Sometime we have hasty generalization but finally we have come to understand the truth of the fact which sparkles our mind that give more contentment and pleasure.

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  21. This beautifully written post will clear years of our misconception about the people of America.We the Indians always tend to think about the Americans with skepticism, thanks to the concerted attempt by some of our public figures to poison our minds about them. In our Zealous antagonism to the Americans, we often forget the fact that were it not for the remarkable hospitality and magnanimity of a noble American woman, Vivekananda, the conscience of India, would not be able to participate in the World parliament of religions. There are scores of such examples including yours.A great post!

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  22. A nice narrative and Americans are helpful and have experienced that too!

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  23. It's always heartening to hear of such incidents. Thanks for sharing.

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  24. there still are such kindhearted people....because of whom the world is still a nice place to live. heartwarming!

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  25. True that ! The Americans are a wonderful lot!! Have experienced that too ! Most barriers are in our minds :)

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  26. I have never been to America but your experience breaks my stereotype of Americans being rude and snobbish.

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  27. Surprisingly, I had visited America in 2006 too and I stayed there for 10 months and it was quite an experience.I found it beautiful and I respect those people for their hospitality. I have never had any bad experience with Americans instead they are very warm people though I have heard different things from different people.
    Thanks for sharing and I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

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