Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

No, this is not an outdated movie review! This is another account of my travel experiences. I have discovered that the degrees of bad and good behavior differ depending on countries and regions. Europe has a veil of politeness which barely hides what they think. The more open Europeans are the most wonderful people I have ever met. In North America again Canada is a much more pleasant experience than the USA, but USA is huge and depends on which area one is in.

I was in Salt Lake City, Utah trying to put together a convincing presentation as to why a corporate entity should dump all the small outdated applications and hire us to redesign and develop a spanking new system which would help them cut their manpower by half. We were a group of 5 people led by a rather tyrannical brute called VJ. At times VJ abandoned us and took off in the company car while we had to walk back to the hotel - a long walk of about an hour. The first day I promptly got lost and just remembered the hotel name. A lady with two kids rescued me from the streets and dropped me to the hotel - I was immensely thankful to her. On another day I was walking down on a street which did not have sidewalks so I walked on grassy patch adjoining the road or at the edge. Several cars passed by with warning honk (I was not supposed to walk on the road), one car slowed down and some people aimed half eaten hamburgers at us and screamed a few profanities. The hamburgers landed tamely missing their target altogether, I wasn't really shocked as throwing things out of buses and cars is almost routine in India! Another car slowed down and stopped right next to me and I wondered - now what?

The person rolled down the window and apologized and said that those guys were drunk and did not realize what they were doing. He said he had noted the number plate and reported their behavior to the Police. He apologized again and wished me a very pleasant stay and drove off. I was speechless and stood rooted to the spot for a few seconds and resumed my trek totally charmed by America and its people.

The French are of course known for their legendary hatred for the English language and I missed many buses and took several wrong turns because people did not respond to my questions but what the heck, it was great fun to explore a bit more and come across delightful sights at the wrong turns.

Germany was well ... cold. I recollect walking around Hamburg, along Alster Lake and saw some groups mainly teens dressed in black leather with shaved heads looking very menacingly at me which almost made me break into a run! I believe they were the so called Neo Nazis or some such thing. I was later advised to walk with a 'Tourist' badge on my coat.

I guess that’s what exploring is all about, experiencing the good and the bad.

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