Africa is often called similar to India and in some terms it actually is. Though, the continent is nearly 10 times the size of India in geography, the total population of the entire continent of nearly 56 countries is little less than that of India’s population. The demography includes diverse cultures and languages primarily divided English speaking, French speaking and Arabic speaking apart from other various languages and dialects.
Only common thing being English speaking countries being ruled by same British rule that exploited India.
I was some time back on business tour of Africa covering four countries. It was one of first visit to Nigeria, though I felt at home as I already knew many of my friends and business partners whom I had met in India or had often spoken at phone.
My choice to stay in a small Indian Hotel also made things easy, which was serving me paranthas and idli vada every day in breakfast. The hotel would arrange a driver ensuring my safety. I was advised to take street taxis. The largest city of Nigeria was not considered very safe for foreigners.
I would usually leave for my meetings after breakfast, carry a bottle of water which I had to purchase from hotel, and would avoid eating anything outside. I would only have dinner after returning to hotel.
For one of my meetings with an old partner, I had to go to the other end of the city. This person was kind of an old friend and was eagerly awaiting to see me. By the time I reached his office, it was already evening and I had finished my water bottle. I did not buy new thinking my host would offer one.
Thirsty I waited in his office for water or tea but none came. Though he was again very excited to see me, his staff came and clicked pictures with me. All this while I was looking for water but never felt comfortable asking for one.
After finishing I started to leave. My host did not want me to go, and suggested since I am on other end of the city, I would get lot of traffic and it would take me 2-3 hours reaching my hotel. He then offered to arrange a hotel for me near his office so that I don’t have to travel in traffic.
Knowing that no hotel in that city would cost less than USD 100, which he was willing to pay but all I needed was a bottle of water or maybe a cup of tea. I was wondering that this guy is happy to meet me, is willing to spend USD 100 to save me trouble of traffic but it was probably not in culture to offer water which would cost probably 50 cents. Everybody there buys water, even the poor ones. He was equally concerned about my comfort, and safety.
I took their permission to leave denying his offer to stay in hotel, knowing I would get water in hotel but I wanted to return to my hotel.
As soon as I left from their place, I stopped at a shop and bought a bottle of water and returned to my hotel and enjoyed my dinner with gobhi masala, dal, rice, and chapatti.