Growing up in Hosapete, I was no stranger to the foreign travelers – with tons of them coming there to visit Hampi. The police quarters where we stayed was right next to the bus stand and everybody used to reach there. As kids of ’80s, we used to always hang around the bus stand to stare at these white skinned weirdly dressed untidy people get down from the buses and wait around. We use to run to those who would look at us and smile just to shake hands and say “Hello” and “Thank you” (the only two English words probably all us knew then apart from Yes and No) and giggling for every thing they asked/told us.
Its been a while since I went back there, close to 28 years. We went back there in 2011 to complete my father’s death rituals, and it was a great feeling to walk around in Hampi where I was the official guide to every relative who visited us.
But there was something very strange that attracted me/J – the signboards. Between two of us , we could not understand the script. I asked the owner and the lady said it was written in Hebrew, and we could not figure out why. She said that lot of Israelis visit Hampi every year and they are the best ones to provide hospitality to. She said they had remodeled their small house into multiple rooms and were renting them out specifically to Israelis. There was not even a regular bathroom in that place and she said they live with them the way her family lives with whatever facilities they have.
That remained in my head as a very interesting and unthinkable possibility and I kept running into news snippets here and there about how Israeli soldiers, after they finish their War duty visit India and spend months/years touring the country. It always fascinated me.
Now I read this and couldn’t help share it.