We Indians are very fortunate to have a rich history and heritage so well woven in the day to day fabric of our lives that more often then not we take it for granted. It is only when someone else ,a foreigner mentions about the rich heritage that we realize the magnanimity of our own culture & heritage.
On my last trip to South Africa. I was at the Johannesburg airport waiting to catch a flight back home. The airport was very crowed that day due to ongoing Soccer matches .My ticket was un confirmed and looking at the airport brimming with passengers the chances of getting a confirmed ticket looked bleak.
I approached the ticket counter for the Nth number of time and got the stock reply that I would get a confirmation only in case of cancellations or last minute No Shows. As the time of departure got closer my worst nightmares began to scare me as the chances of my getting a confirmed ticket were diminishing like they were being sucked into quicksand.
As a last act of desperation I approached a higher official who was already surrounded by a large group of passengers, some pleading & others almost fighting to get a seat on the same flight that I wanted to take. When my chance came I prepared myself for the worst. My voice chocked as I tried to speak and before I could do so He looked at my face and Asked “From India?”
I nodded my Head in Answer.
With a wistful look in eyes He asked me How far was the River Ganges From my Home?
I told him that it was about 150 Km’s from my home.
To which He said “ Oh it’s quite far but not as far as I am from it.”
As there were no seats in my chosen class of travel He upgraded it .Putting a stamp of confirmation on my ticket He said” I wish I could go and see the Ganges once “ He looked at his co worker and said “Do you know he comes from the land of the Ganges”. For a moment I saw in their eyes reverence for the Holy River as they nodded their heads. Then he regained his composure and said I wish you a safe flight and do come back again.
A total stranger who had never been to India but only heard about the Ganges, his connection with it came like an eye opener for me. A common chord had struck between us. Making Me realize that it was nothing but the spirit of Indianness that had spread far and wide and cast a spell over people from different Nationalities and ethnicity. It was this spirit of Indianness that came as a saving grace and soon I was on a flight back to India. This incident left a great imprint on my mind and heart.