Say Hello to my Russian Friends.
In the month of March I was in Goa and it was our last night there. We had been sitting at an open air restaurant by the stretch of road that runs from Bhaga beach. We had only gone there to have some Shwarma and had plans to drink the night away somewhere else.
It so happened that the it was Easter and they had called in a DJ and a video projector. The music was good, so we decided to sit in while we ordered our drinks and waited for some friends to join us. The evening was still young and the music and drinks were just catching up. The DJ was joined by a white friend of hers while the DJ began teasing a crowd of North Indian guys present there with some Honey Singh Bollywood numbers. The guys kind of went over-board and it seemed like they were going to take over the place with their dancing moves. They were soon taken out of the place by the bouncers.
There was peace and serenity again. Cold play and Pink Floyd began playing. There was also Karaoke there and one of my friends who is a great singer started pouring out numbers from Coldplay, Pink Floyd, Led Zep – Stairway to Heaven, Metallica – Nothing else matters etc etc. Just as all of this was going on the white woman who had been with the DJ was joined by a couple of white men. Just as they were taking their seat with her they stared towards our table which wasn’t too far off. I tend be quite aware of what is going on around me so I noticed this. My friend gestured some dance moves at one of the guys who was looking our way but he gestured back almost mocking back in disdain.
I had noticed what had happened with my friend and did not feel great about it. Anyways, I continued with the party that was going on. A few drinks down and the atmosphere had settled down into a more congenial one. I moved out and asked if I could take a seat at their table. Everyone had been clapping and singing and smiling by now. Everyone was having a good time. They welcomed me and I introduced myself on the table and found out that only the white woman knew English, she was from Ukraine and had been in India for 5 months. The two men were friends of her and were from Russia. They didn’t know English too well. I asked her if she could offer them both a drink from me and I also asked her to tell them that I had noticed how when they first entered the place, it showed in their eyes that they didn’t have much of a friendly intention. I said I wanted to change all those and so was offering them a drink, to which I got a high five from her.
I had wanted to strike a conversation with them, I wanted to break whatever stigma they had had against us. It seemed to me as though they didn’t like Indians. I wasn’t sure why was that. Might have been because of their experiences in India or some other incident like the Delhi rape etc. We began chatting and they agreed that they did not have the best of impression of Indians especially the guys. I retorted saying that no Indians are the same, so they couldn’t judge people based on prejudices they held. During our conversations many things like similarities between India and Europe came up in how both were very diverse and how the culture, language , food etc. would change every bunch of hundred miles or so. At times we had to use a lot of sign language but nonetheless it was a great conversations which touched many topics.
Eventually, it was time for them to leave and just as they we were all saying our good byes they asked me for a picture with them as a memory. I asked one of my friends to take one for me too. Here it is:
I think it is important to open up to people from other cultures, regions etc. and let them in. I had a great time chatting to them and I hope so did they. It is by trying to get to know each other that we will form bonds of friendship and break prejudices and stigmas.
Have you had any situations like this? How did you react?