19 November 2023

Keeping up with another old tradition

Unless I rent a car in a new country, I try to make friends with the driver who picks me up from the airport and see if he/she can stay for the whole duration of my stay. Basically, then I have them become my local guide and translator. Throughout the journey, they help me understand the local language, culture, food and answer all those millions of questions I always have about a new country.

After my trip, I usually keep up with them thru WhatsApp calls – certainly on birthdays – and then often refer them to anybody who wants to go to that country. I have 19 such friends.

Well, I had 19 such friends.

Gintautas is now my 20th such friend. On Wednesday afternoon when I met him at Vilnius airport, we were complete strangers. By Saturday evening when he dropped me at the hotel, I knew his whole family history uptil his great grandfather and all his likes and dislikes. What is remarkable about him is how an unfortunate incident in his life (lost his dad at 16) completely changed his outlook towards life.

By his own admission, his priorities changed. He started to understand the important from the unimportant. And he started becoming an introvert. Like me, he does not like parties or is very uncomfortable in group gatherings.

“You are very young. Why did you choose this profession?”

“After my dad died, I concluded that I do not want to work for money. I want to do what I love the most. Because I do not know when I might die. As a child, I loved cars – we had those old Russian cars then. I loved how cars went on roads. I loved how drivers would control the car. I used to sit on my dad’s lap and pretend to drive his car all the time. This is what I am going to do all my life”

“Good for you”

He introduced me to the local food and picked the roads and places to go. Without Gintautus, this trip would not have been half as much fun. If any of you ever want to visit Lithuania and would like a guide and a very safe driver, let me know!

Posted November 19, 2023 by Rajib Roy in category "Vacations


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