I have been now back home for a few weeks and whenever people ask me how I would best describe India and Indians, I always tell them the same episode. I always tell them of that evening when Claire and me spent Diwali with a random Muslim family in Bikaner while waiting for our night train to Jaipur.
We had just got to Bikaner that evening and we were strolling along the main street, when a girl followed by her family stopped us to pull our kurtas even more down than how they were. From that, a simple conversation began. In less than few minutes we were invited to visit their house. If I have to be sincere, we were a bit hesitant at the beginning, but then we decided to entrust our Diwali celebrations in serendipity’s hands.
|Dewali in Bikaner streets|
So there we were an Italian and a Canadian girl sitting on a bed in a house of a Muslim family in Bikaner old city we did not know. We were given chai, endless quantities of bhujia and other Indian snacks. As per usual in every Indian family, “Bas Bas!” to food was not even contemplated. We were fed until we could explode. The evening was pleasant. We shared funny life moments, and we showed and took plenty of photos. The best part of that evening though was when we went out to the streets and played with the children lighting fireworks and firecrackers. It was nice to see how a Muslim family, who does not usually celebrate Diwali, was doing all of this to make us have a great experience. They wanted us to enjoy Diwali so much that few months later I found a firecracker in my bag that one of the children might have put on the sly when we departed.
|Our amazing hosts|
As cheesy as it may sound, this memory always warms my heart whenever I think of it. Even if I did not meet that family anymore after Diwali, they gave me a big lesson about Indians and hospitality. You do not have to be the Prime Minister of India to receive extra care. Any guest is treated like a King or Queen, and they really make you feel like that!
Ilaria Iovieno - Italy
Gajner Centre Coordinator and Microfinance Project Manager