Wednesday, June 6, 2012


BIS Mumbai                                  



POLAND, JUNE 06, 2012: They say life is what you make of it; and boy, are they right! The essence of any cultural exchange is to get to know as much as you can about different cultures, as well as to let people from other countries get a glimpse of your culture. Our group was privileged to get a close insight into Polish culture by means of both observation, as well as personal interaction, and I can say today, with full confidence, that we did make the most of it!


My very first impression of Polish people was that they are extremely helpful. The moment we reached the provincial house, a group of young boys who stayed there ran to us and picked up our luggage and dropped it to our rooms. The whole community made us feel so warm and welcomed, that we found it very difficult to believe that we were actually away from home! I also gathered from the whole experience, that they do not hesitate to go out of their way to help their guests. In India we believe in the Sanskrit verse 'atithi devo bhava' which means 'the guest is God', but I've seen this happen in practice in Poland.


Of course, apart from the similarities between our culture and Polish culture, there were also many differences. To start with, they greet people with three kisses on the cheeks instead of two. The men there sometimes even kiss the girl's right hand while greeting her. This was a little difficult to digest because in India this would allegedly be labelled as 'flirting'! The roads in Poland are extremely clean and drivers follow a set of strict rules. Over there, no one breaks the signal, drivers only use the horn when it is absolutely necessary, their headlights are on even during the day, Jaywalking is an offence and most surprisingly, in Poland, people don't stop for vehicles, vehicles stop for people. A general observation about Polish residents is that they're never in a hurry for anything. They're quite strict with punctuality which is probably why they don't have a reason to run!


Poland being an extremely cold country, their diet includes a lot of meat which is quite hot and it helps them keep warm. They are also very fond of potatoes, cheese and bread! We were lucky enough to be invited to Fr. Christopher's own home where his mother prepared for us a good Polish meal which we truly relished! Meeting his family and being with them for almost two days just reinforced my impression about the hospitality of Polish residents. The day before we had to leave, we were invited by Fr. Christopher for his tenth Ordination anniversary celebration. At the party, I discovered a different side of Polish culture- they love to party! We danced with them like never before and they just didn't seem to get tired!


All in all, I could really see the Salesian spirit gleaming from each one of their faces. They may not be aware of it, but they're definitely following the Don Bosco Way of 'Being cheerful in everything that you do'. As I said before, we've definitely made the most of this experience, and we hope to follow their example and spread the cheerfulness to everyone around us.


Don Bosco Provincial House,
Matunga, Mumbai - 400 019. INDIA


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