Previously I wrote about how important unprejudiced looking and listening is in communication and especially when it comes to communication in hospitality. At the time I write this I’m sitting in my hotel room in the Nepalese town of Nepalgunj, where I advise, train and coach hotel owners, to be successful with their businesses.
When his car turned onto the parking lot of the hotel, I was terrified; his new car was smeared overall with some kind of red paint.
A good test
You can probably imagine that the habits in a country like Nepal are totally different than in your country. A great test for me in listening and looking in an unprejudiced way. Upon my arrival at the airport in Nepalgunj, I was welcomed with traditional flower wreaths and festive colored shawls by a special welcome committee. Proudly I was transported as a guest of honour in the brand new car of one of the members of the committee.
The next day I had my first meeting with the main members of the Nepal Business Hotel Group, including the owner of the new car. When his car turned onto the parking lot of the hotel, I was terrified; his new car was smeared overall with some kind of red paint. With a red swastika on the back. What a vandalism, was my first thought.
Blessed on the road
Before I expressed my dismay, I asked cautiously to my companion and interpreter Sangam, what happened to the car. With a big smile he said, “the car has been blessed yesterday.” So I asked carefully what the sign meant at the back of the car. It turned out to be an ancient Nepalese holy sign of prosperity and happiness. The car suddenly became a blessed ‘cow’ on four wheels.
A different world
I expected to receive an understanding response about the symbol that I mistook as a swastika with the negative connotation for me. Not. Nepalese people are very religious and they bless everything from cars to buildings under construction. Nepal is a totally different world, where people pray for centuries to thousands of gods. A good lesson for me in listening and looking in an unprejudiced way.
With warm regards,