A 91-year-old Indian National Army veteran has been awarded The Tourist Guide award. Rama Khandwala has been a tourist guide for the last 50 years.
Khandwala is known in her circle for her stamina and gusto. Even when she was 86-years-old, the lady could climb the 120 steps leading to the Elephanta caves like a young girl. Her daunting stamina stemmed from her training as the 2nd Lieutenant in the Indian National Army.
Khandwala trained in the INA at Rangoon as a part of Rani Jhansi Regiment. She used to spent her days marching, hoisting flags, wielding rifles, bayonets and machine guns.
On Wednesday, Khandwala received the National Tourism Award as the Best Tourist Guide in her category. The award was presented to her by the President, Ram Nath Kovind, at New Delhi. Calling guides as the “unofficial ambassadors” of the nation, Khandwala has now questioned the 12 days course that has been approved by the MTDC. She said that this course is incomplete and unequipped to make tour guides understand the several aspects of the city.
Khandwala is proficient in Japanese-a skill that she acquired during the Japanese occupation of Burma. This has made her a favorite among the Japanese tourists and has visited Japan six times and has been hosted by her former clients. Her interest in Buddhism has also made her meet His Holiness Dalai Lama and the King of Bhutan.
Even though she is 91-years-old, Khandwala has no plans of retiring and still conducts 2-3 car tours in a week. She remains a favorite with the Japanese tourists.