One of my part time jobs at a college is to recruit internationally trained professionals for free language courses that start in the Fall. During the summer months, I load up my car with flyers and drop them off at appropriate locations where newcomers to Hamilton might visit. A few weeks ago, I decided to drive to the Gudrawa (Sikh temple). When I arrived, there were several cars in the driveway, and I could see a group of men inside. I turned the car around and headed back out. Yesterday, I tried again. This time the parking lot was empty. I drove by the large windows slowly to gaze inside. The coast was clear…or so I thought. I got out of my car and made my way to the door. I pressed my face against the window and to my surprise, a man who appeared to be praying, looked up. Oh no! I had been seen. He came to the door and I explained why I was there. While I was speaking, he was looking down at the flyers, and nodding his head. Our eyes did not meet. I thanked him for his time and just before I turned around, he looked up and said “would you like to come inside for tea or coffee?” To say that I was surprised is an understatement. I wanted to say yes but unfortunately I was wearing flipflops and a sleeveless shirt because of the extreme heat. My embarrassment kept me from going inside and getting to know this gracious and accepting person.
Days later, I am still thinking about what happened. I wrote about my experience in a Facebook post. One of my former students, Gappy commented by saying “Yes Patrice, it is quite common in the Sikh religion to offer warm hospitality to those who visit the Sikh temples without any discrimination on the basis of caste and creed … Moreover, the Sikh culture is the only culture that serves free food for 24 hours”.