Italian tourist Giovanni Allegrini having meal at Deepak Sharma’s residence  Credit: EastMojo image

Guwahati: Amid the coronavirus scare across the globe, the great Assamese hospitality has once again come to the fore. While foreign tourists landing in the country are facing some tough times as all hotels, lodges, etc, have been shut due to the global menace, a retired State Bank of India (SBI) officer, Deepak Sharma, in Guwahati offered his helping hand giving respite to a 23-year-old tourist from Italy, Giovanni Allegrini, who is on a visit to Assam.

The saga of sorrow and happiness was scripted in the streets of Guwahati on Wednesday evening at a roadside tea kiosk.

Giovanni Allegrini (left) and Deepak Sharma

On Thursday, Italy surpassed China for the most number of deaths related to coronavirus. The European country recorded over 600 deaths, highest on a single day, taking the death toll to 4,032.

“Had I not met this gentleman, I might be forced to keep wandering in search of accommodation and food as hostels and hotels denied me a room,” Allegrini, who left his home in Italy on October 27, 2017 and since then has been touring one country after another, said.

Allegrini said, “I landed in New Delhi on February 2. I kept touring from Maharashtra to Goa to Karnataka. In Chhattisgarh, I met a girl and we both fell in love with each other. I believe my destiny took me there,” he added.

“From Chhattisgarh, I stopped one day in Patna and then boarded a train and arrived in Guwahati,” Allegrini said, adding, “I have been screened multiple times at airports and railway stations and found to be in good health. I fail to understand why hotels and hostels have shut doors in these testing times for tourists. Where will they go all of a sudden?” he asked.

“I am lucky and happy having ended at Deepak Sharma’s residence where I am feeling comfortable and safe,” Allegrini added.

Talking to EastMojo, Sharma said that he had gone to Pan Bazar to procure some medicines. “I saw a tall fellow, with European looks, surrounded by a group of people. I felt he was being insulted, hence, I stopped my car and intervened by asking how I could help him,” said Sharma.

“I reached Guwahati today and hotels and hostels denied me a room,” Allegrini told Sharma in a nervous tone.

Sharma added, “I offered him tea at a nearby roadside kiosk where we exchanged some words. He introduced himself and shared about his trip to India and how he landed in Assam to see a rhino and explore entire Northeast. He showed me his passport and informed me that he has been checked at multiple places, latest while coming out of Guwahati railway station,” he said.

“I got a sense that he is also facing language problem and perhaps situation is not normal and people are not understanding him properly. I could see there were no medical symptoms, hence, I offered him stay at my Narengi residence,” he added.

“Once we reached home, we prepared some meal and offered him after which he slept,” Sharma said, adding: “Today, he wished if he could move out to explore. I accompanied him towards Pobitora Widlife Sanctuary where we saw a rhino and flock of buffaloes. In the evening, my son drove him to Gandhi Mandap and some places in the town,” Sharma said.

The Italian tourist watching a rhino near Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary 

Sharma said, “I am happy to host him and he can stay with us till the time situation improves so that he can go around to wander the places he has been longing to see and are under shutdown today and explore northeastern states, which have banned local tourists due to coronavirus, to feel the local culture and cuisine.”

He has a visa for six months and his plans include visiting Sikkim before moving back to Australia and New Zealand. Sharma added, “The foreign tourists shouldn’t go back unhappy and they should have great thoughts about the country. They should also get the opportunity to spread information about Assam and the Northeast worldwide so that it boosts our tourism potential.”

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