The idea of going to Turkey struck many people in more than one ways. They said it was out of the box, hippie and cool. The actual trip to Turkey struck me in more than one ways as well. There are just many things to write about, which I hope to formulate and write in coming pages, though this one was one of the most striking ones.
You find Turkish people to be extremely hospitable. At least, those who are in business of hospitality. We just met Turks who were hotel managers,waiters,guides,shopkeepers,street vendors, immigration officers and so on. I do not know about normal Turks,who are not in the business of travel and tourism, but I will give them benefit of doubt and not talk about them. But you simple can not look over the fact that all the hospitality professionals are living by the name of that sector. And they are doing this in their own unique way.
Nilay,My tour guide at cappadocia, was one wonderful person. About same as my age, stout, with a striking mixture of asian and europian features, spoke English in her funny accent. We just instantly clicked. She gave us information as it was expected. But she did not stop at that. she initiated discussions within the passengers, spoke personally with me for a long time, we chatted about religion,national spirit,staying away from your parents,university education and what not. She has done her graduation in tour guiding, which I found to be cool.
Raedire, the cute receptionist at the Gamirasu cave hotel,cappadocia was so hospitable that we almost felt obliged. She would personally come to every table when we had dinner, ask us how our day was, Every time we came back from sightseeing, she would chat with us for 5 minutes. The hotel manager would say Namaste, and also knew the word 'chalo'! Everywhere we went, Apple teas was given to us for free- that's a welcome drink. And apple teas could well be replaced by wine,or Raki- the local beer!
to top the list, the immigration officer at Istanbul airport saw my passport and asked me if I can speak Hindu!(meant Hindi).The knack to make people felt included, to make them feel comfortable was seen in all these cases, and that definitely means a lot.
The point is that you realize after a while that it is all a part of professionalism. They are being hospitable as a part of profession, as a service that you paid for. But not once did we feel that this is a paid hospitality. We kept on believing that this behavior is real, genuine and to an extent of it being special favor to us. Of course we knew that all tourists will be greeted with same hospitality and would encounter same experiences, still the feeling stayed. And after a while that feeling started causing pain to me, made me feel hurt, to realize that this is all paid service, and might be-might not be real, and its definitely non-exclusive. It is a weird feeling where you really appreciate something nice, and realize that you can not get too attached to it!
I really felt that our countrymen who scream ATITHI DEVO BHAV at every occasion, (and still need Amir khan to advertise against troubling the tourists) could take some inspiration. we can not be the professional hospitable gang the next day. But hospitable enough to serve what people paid for. With these thoughts I landed in Mumbai only to be greeted by a half-asleep losy faced woman at immigration counter, who did not bother to check our immigration forms and was pretty foul mouthed with a firang behind me.
Atithi devo bhav- the invisible edition.