That Raj Kapoor is famous and loved in Russia is well known but little did we expect that we would get special treatment because we were Indians in St. Petersburg. The population born and raised in Soviet Union are in love about all things Indian.
We stood out as Tourists as we boarded a local city bus at one of the metro stations in St. Petersburg to go to the hotel where we were staying. To be sure that we get down at the right stop, we made our way near the front door, near the driver, to get a better view of the road and decide where to get down.
The jolly old bus driver looked at us and asked if we are from India and when we nodded in the affirmative, his next question was Raj Kapoor with a sparkle in his eyes and again we nodded after which to our utter surprise he started humming a Raj Kapoor song!
As we reached our stop he asked us where we wanted to go and we pointed at the multistoried hotel nearby, he asked us not to get down and instead we continued in the bus wondering what is his logic until he stopped bang in the middle of the street and opened the door right opposite our hotel and let us down.
We thanked him and he waved back at us. We crossed the road with a fantastic feeling of the bonds that have been created between the countries decades ago and how one gets to experience it even today.
He couldn’t speak English and we couldn’t speak Russian, but this was a fine example of what cultural ties can do to overcome language barriers. It was one of those moments to feel proud of being Indians.
I have had a very special treatment from an Afghan driver in the USA as soon as he heard that I am from India. More about it, some other time.