Lessons from traveling

They say traveling makes one a broadminded person. In my last 3-4 days in Hyderabad I have gained a lot of broadmindedness.

First and foremost, never ever empathize with the locals. Here is why – Before I left for Hyderabad a colleague told me that Hyderabadis pronounce ‘Satyam` as ‘Satcham.` I kept this in mind when I boarded a call-taxi to office on my first day here.

“Take me to the Satcham office in Hi-tech City,” I said.

“Satcham?”

“Yes, Satcham,” I said. I was visibly proud that I had struck the right chord with my Telugu call-taxi driver.

“There is no office called ‘Satcham` in and around Hi-Tech city.” He seemed confident.

“No, there is. In fact Hyderabad is their head-quarters and their domination in the city is such that every shop provides discount to its employees.”

“Ohhhh…you are talking of Satyam. Tho aise bolo na sahib.”

I have a feeling he shifted to Hindi thinking I didn`t know English. Now, I have decided never to empathize with the locals.

My second lesson was, never tip a person for an effort which is not beyond the call of his/her duty. If I hadn`t thought about tipping, I wouldn`t have been in the embarrassing position that I am now in.

If you own Hotel Kamat Lingapur (in Begumpet, Hyderabad) or work for it, please note that anything and everything below this line is fictional. I should have carried a disclaimer before and after this post but then….this is no Da Vinci Code. Or is it?

When I got down from a Taxi at Hotel Kamat Lingapur on Monday morning, a young strapping lad who could have any day punched me in the face and yet got away said: “Good morning, sir!”

I turned and looked at him. If there were a third party witnessing the earnestness with which this young lad was picking my luggage, he/she would have thought I had come back to my younger brother`s house after 15 years or so…and the bell boy was actually my younger brother taking my luggage inside his house.

I was sure, if Rekha had been traveling with me this young lad wouldn`t have smiled. Instead he would have muttered under his breath: “Come on vacation or re-location?”

Anyway, he carried my luggage into the lift and from the lift to the door and left it on the king size double bed that adorned my room. Falling back on Harrison Ford whom I once saw tipping some Indians for carrying his bags up a mountain….I whipped out my wallet and flipped it in style. Lined inside my wallet were 18 five-hundred rupee notes. I thought for a moment…what do I do now? I had no change…but right in front of me was a bell boy with more expectation in his eyes than Pamela Anderson ever had. In such moments of distress, I try and imagine what Rekha would do and go by it. I closed my eyes…..and I could visualize Rekha shooing away the bell boy because she didn`t have change to tip him. I did the same.

After the incident, I have seen the boy four times in the last four days…he never smiles. If there were a third party witnessing the way we avoid each other…he/she would think we are brothers who parted over some property!

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