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Being Indian

In these two months of traveling across the Middle East and Eastern Europe we have been extremely lucky to have had amazing experiences! A common thing we have noticed is that most of the people love Indians! And there is no reason why they should not, isn’t it? We are a peace loving and friendly nation, aren’t we? 🙂 A lot of people wish us while we are walking on the street, they like to talk to us, ask interesting questions (see here for a detailed list of questions) and even offer to help us.

Of course, we like to talk about India and tell our hosts or their friends more about our life in India and try to clear any doubts or misconceptions they may have about our nation. We were extremely fortunate to have had opportunities to talk about India to a wider audience in a foreign land! 🙂

It all started in Turkey, in a place called Batman(No, it’s not a nickname ;)). We were taking a leisurely walk on the street after dinner with our host, Şefik, when he suddenly asked us if we were interested in giving a talk on India in a live radio program that night!! We were sure he was kidding! Realizing this he asked us again 🙂 And we replied in unison ‘Yes!! Most definitely!!’ The next ten minutes saw us rush to a radio station! It was the most popular one in that region – Batman Super 90.0 FM.

We met the owner of the radio channel, Mr. Hasan Oluk, who was earlier a movie artist and is now successfully running the radio channel since almost 15 years! He was very happy to receive guests from India, one of his favourite countries.

After a cup of Turkish chai we were ushered into the room where the program would be conducted. There was a radio jockey, our friend Şefik who would translate from English to Kurdish(the native language in Eastern Turkey) and us!

And for the next one hour we were live! Talking about India, answering their queries, be it about our Ganges river, political situation, Taj Mahal, Indira Gandhi, Bollywood movies, etc., We tried our best to answer their questions :). We even played a Hindi song for the audience at the end! Guess which one? It was ‘Ye jo des hai tera’ from A.R. Rehman’s  Swades 🙂

We were thrilled, to say the least! :)
We were thrilled, to say the least! 🙂

It was an unforgettable experience for us 🙂 Being local celebrities in Eastern Turkey for a night 😉

Şefik teaches theology in a public school in Batman. He invited us to his school the next day where we met the other teachers, the head officer in-charge of the school. Most importantly, the kids! Yeah, we went to Şefik’s class and spent some time with the kids. We even took their attendance. We spoke to them about India for a short while. These are some of the naughtiest kids we have met so far!

The naughty kids of Batman :)
The naughty kids of Batman 🙂

After almost a month and a half while we were searching for hosts in and around Krakow, Poland we were extremely lucky to get a positive response from a wonderful family – Jessica and Grzeg Kucia and their adorable daughters invited us to their home in Wieliczka, a village famous for its salt mines.

Jess, Grzeg and their adorable girls :)
Jess, Grzeg and their adorable girls 🙂

And Jessica suggested that we go to their daughter, Pola’s class to give a talk on India! We were excited, to say the least.

The public school in Wieliczka village where we were invited
The public school in Wieliczka village where we were invited

We thoroughly enjoyed talking to the kids (8-9 year olds). We even prepared a short presentation about India with lot of pictures which the kids liked a lot 🙂 These kids were expecting us and had come prepared with questions! Some really interesting ones are –

‘Which is the largest fruit in India?’

We were really amused and answered watermelon. It was pumpkin in Poland 😉

‘Do you recycle things in India?’

Very mature question! We think they were learning about recycling. As much as we would like to, it is not happening much in India.

‘Do you have sushi in India?’

Yeah, we do get it in some Japanese restaurants but it doesn’t belong to us 🙂

The curious  and inquisitive kids with their equally enthusiastic teacher :)
The curious and inquisitive kids with their equally enthusiastic teacher 🙂

And guess what? We even showed them a video of the song, “Bum bum bole’ from Aamir Khan’s ‘Taare Zameen Par’ 🙂 and made them dance to it!! It was such fun!!

We were really touched when they presented us some handicraft as a token of their love in the end:)

Handicrafts made by kids representing traditional Polish costumes :)
Handicrafts made by kids representing traditional Polish costumes 🙂
It was great fun! :)
It was great fun! 🙂
They even asked us about our blog! :)
They even asked us about our blog! 🙂

A couple of weeks later we were in Ljubljana, Slovenia where we met a very friendly host, Darja, who was a teacher in a public school. This time we suggested if we could go to her school to talk to the kids. She was very excited at this proposal and quickly made arrangements! 🙂 Luckily the kids were studying about Asia in their geography class and were surprised by our unexpected visit.

Our impromptu visit was a sweet surprise for the students :)
Our impromptu visit was a sweet surprise for the students 🙂

We told them many interesting facts about India. They were astonished especially about the number of  languages spoken in India!

We were delighted to have even the headmaster of the school sit in the class to listen to us 😉 He was a very nice and highly educated person, holding a PhD in computer science!

Another important part of our travel has been FOOD!! We are so proud of our Indian cuisine and have filled almost all kitchens in most of the countries with our aromatic curries and dishes 🙂 But let’s reserve FOOD for another separate blog post 😉

As you can see it’s been great so far! We are so happy we are doing this – traveling around the world, to great places, meeting great people, learning so much and spreading something so unique to us – Indianness! 🙂

Questions people ask us

It’s been almost two months since we left home. We have met loads of interesting people. Some of them have asked us interesting questions about India and about our travel. Here are some of the most common questions we encountered.

  • Why are you traveling?Because we love traveling! We want to see and experience the world. We met an Indian guy in Budapest for business who even asked us – What do you mean by backpacking? Have you gone mad to quit your jobs and travel around the world, wasting time and money? He even suggested us to go back home.

    Into the wild @ Vitosha mountains, Bulgaria
    Into the wild @ Vitosha mountains, Bulgaria
  • Do you know how to dance?Yes, all Indians are expected to dance! It’s mandatory according to some. So, the next time we are off on a trip like this (oh! How we wish this one doesn’t end!), we are definitely going to learn some typical Bollywood moves 😉 Not that we did not try some this time 😉
Dancing to Hookah Bar in Shiraz, Iran ;)
Dancing to Hookah Bar in Shiraz, Iran 😉

 

  • Why is cow regarded as a holy animal in India? If you don’t eat cow, then what do you eat!?
    Well, how about some veggies?

    Yummy Indian veg food which doesn't remind you of absence of meat :)
    Yummy Indian veg food which doesn’t remind you of absence of meat 🙂
  • Is it true that woman always proposes first to the man before wedding?
    What! Now, where did you get that from? Women in India will definitely be amused 😉
  • How do arranged marriages exist even in 21st century? Please explain the process 🙂
    Haha! Yeah, they are still common and we have adapted to the system. But of course, the trend is changing these days. The process? Well, the family shortlists few guys/girls who meet each other a couple of times and make their decision! Yes, it’s simple and it works 🙂
  • Why is river Ganges considered holy?
    While we are not completely sure, we think the scriptures have made it holy. Sadly, it’s one of the most polluted rivers in India! 🙁
  • Is it true that the emperor who built Taj Mahal, also ordered to chop off the hands of the architect? That’s so cruel!
    Well, we are not sure. If true, we do agree it was cruel.
  • How can you be a vegetarian all your life? Where do you get energy from?
    Try it! 😉 It’s not so tough. Especially when you live in a country where almost ~50% of the population is vegetarian and more than half of the menu in most of the restaurants is veg! Still don’t believe it? Invite us to your home and we’ll blow your minds away by making yummy veg food 😉
  • How many languages are there in India?
    Total – 1652!! Not kidding at all! Check Wikipedia if you want. Official and regional – 24! Yeah, it’s crazy, we know!
  • What’s your national language?
    Nope, sorry, we don’t have a national language! Hindi is  one of the many official languages and is widely spoken.
  • Is it all true what they show in Balika Vadhu?
    What!  How do you know about Balika vadhu, of all things! Guess what? Balika vadhu is a popular soap opera in Bulgaria! We were shocked to know that it has a big fan following there. We even watched an episode of it along with our friendly hosts and answered their doubts 🙂
  • Is it safe for people to travel to India?Especially female travelers, after what they show in the media about rapes, etc?
    Hmm, it’s a matter of shame even for us, to come across such incidents! 🙁  But if you take necessary precautions, we think we are a safe country to travel to.What do you think of the questions? Have you been asked any interesting questions about India during your travels? 😉