Tour guide Rama Khandwala, up and about at 91

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New Delhi: Age is just a number for 91-year-old tour guide Rama Khandwala, who received the special best tourist guide award from President Ram Nath Kovind at the National Tourism Awards here today.
Khandwala served as a Second Lieutenant in the Rani Jhansi Regiment of Azad Hind Fauj in Rangoon, led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. After World War II, Khandwala and her family settled down in Mumbai.
“I was a freedom fighter. I wanted to do something for the nation. Vallabhbhai Patel told me to join politics, but I refused. I thought I can enhance the country’s image by being in this (tourism) field,” she said. “Tourists often used to tell me that there was a lot of poverty in India. I would ask them, ‘What was your country 300 years ago?’ They would have no answer.”
A vibrant Khandwala recollected how a woman from Holland was so impressed by the people in the slums that she wished to stay there.
“I feel good here because these people take care of their old parents so well, unlike in our country where children come with flowers in 15 days or so,” Khandwala quoted the woman.
Besides the amazing destinations, India has a lot to offer, she says: “the culture and the experience, the human touch, the feelings.”
Khandwala, who is fluent in Japanese, pitches for tourism courses at the regional level. Her advice to young tour guides: “Put your heart into work, make tourists laugh and laugh with them.” And remember, she adds: “Always keep the country’s image in the forefront.” — PTI

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