Mahendra Giri

Back in 1988, I was working at the University of Bonn as an Alexander Von Humboldt Research Fellow. I took some time off from work in early May to visit an Italian friend, Dr. M. Olmi, who was the Director of a Museum in Viterbo, in central Italy. Dr. Olmi and I were academically connected. I intended to visit him for 3 days. I took my train from Bonn to Rome.

It was a lovely journey along familiar German landscape, carved by the Rhine, stopping in Frankfurt, Heidelberg and Stuttgart. Thereafter the train crossed the German border over to reach Zurich. Then the train ran through lovely valleys and sometimes passed through hillsides, entering a number of tunnels on the Swiss Alps. It was all so picturesque. The natural beauty was really breathtaking and wonderful! Then the train crossed the Swiss border to enter Italy passing through Milan and Florence.

Finally, it stopped in Rome. I booked my hotel at the station and proceeded to the hotel. It was not a starred hotel but was comfortable and centrally located, close to the railway station.  The next morning I had a coffee at a nearby caféfor 1500 lira. I enthusiastically set about visiting the major landmarks of Rome.

My plan proved to be unrealistic and too ambitious because there is so much to see and I had just a day. However, I did manage to cover the Colosseum, Altar of the Fatherland (Victor Emmanuel II monument) the Trevi Fountain and of course the Vatican City. I enjoyed walking around the old part of the city on my own as a foreign tourist.

The next morning I had planned to catch a train, a two-hour journey to Viterbo. I took a taxi to the station. As I tried to locate the gate to the platform, I realized, to my surprise, that the station was closed for an upgrade. For a moment my mind went blank and did not know what to do next.

The problem was that I had a heavy suitcase and hand luggage and couldn’t move about easily. Since I didn’t speak Italian, I could not ask anyone for directions either. I dragged my suitcase for about 100 meters to a nearby motor mechanic. A man of about fifty, a sturdy guy about 5’8” tall with a round and fair face, was working there.  I excused myself and asked where the nearest station was. I am sure he did not understand me, but he could easily guess that I was asking about the station. He replied which I did not understand, either.

The only exchange was our smiles.

He smiled, wiped his hands and said something, which I guessed to mean, “Come along”. I dragged my suitcase and followed him. A few meters away he had parked his car. He opened his car door for me to get in and then he drove for a few minutes to the next station. I got out and unloaded my luggage, and I shook hands with him and thanked him. He smiled back at me and drove away.

There was no time to hug or exchange names. I understood that he was busy and was in the middle of his work. I was so much moved by his generosity that I never forgot him. He was working and could have easily ignored me but instead, he chose to help me. He went the extra mile out of his way to help me on that day. I was completely overwhelmed.

I have told this story to many to prove that there are good people everywhere in the world. An unknown guy in a foreign land was so kind to me.

Thank you, Mr. Italy, I salute you!

I then boarded the train and arrived in Viterbo a couple of hours later where my friend, Dr. Olmi was waiting to welcome me.

(नमस्कार ! एउटा कुरा भनौं है, तपाईं पनि लेख्नु न । जीवन र जीवनसँग सम्बन्धित कुनै पनि कुरा लेख्नु । नेपालनाम्चा तपाईंको मिडिया साथी त हो । र, यसको इमेल हो । यही इमेलमा आफ्नो परिचय, फोटोसहित आफ्ना मनका अनेक कुरा, सबै कुरा पठाउनुहोला ।)


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