We had one of those

Many years ago I was invited to a conference in Mumbai. The day before the conference our host thoughtfully organized a tour for those of us who were from other countries — mostly myself and a group of very nice graduate students from Germany.

We all got in a car in the morning, and for the next few hours the driver — who spoke not a word of English — drove us to various places. At each place, we needed to get out and figure out why we were there.

One stop was to a lovely park, another to a busy clothing market, yet another to a very impressive government building. Even though we couldn’t communicate with the driver, we could pretty much figure out why each place was significant.

But then he pulled up at what looked like a residential house. We all got out of the car and went inside, wondering what this next place would be all about.

As we walked through the hallway, we saw that the walls were lined with pictures of Mahatma Gandhi. That is when we realized that we were standing in a house where Gandhi used to live (in fact it was Mani Bhavan).

At one point one of the German grad students and I were looking at the photos together. Both of us were in awe at being in the great man’s home. I said “Gandhi was probably one of the five most important people in the twentieth century.”

“Yes,” the student replied sadly, “We had one of those. But it didn’t turn out so well.”

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