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My First Host Family at Scotland – GSE Program of Rotary Foundation

Note: I was selected by Rotary Foundation for its exchange program called Group Study Exchange(GSE) for Scotland. I visited West of Scotland for tenure of one month, i.e. from September 8 to October 8, 2012. We were total five members, one team-leader and four team-members. All my posts regarding my experiences of this program are posted here on SpeakBindas under the category of GSE Scotland. Read on..

Alan & Denise Kirk – My First Host Family, Lochaber Rotary Club, Fort William

First Rotary club we visited during our GSE program was Lochaber Rotary Club @ Fort William. I remember Alan, my first host had come to Glasgow airport to receive us. He was dressed in the Scottish traditional outfit for men known as KILT. That is when I had felt like I should too wear the kilt sometime while I’m in Scotland. And that dream had come true right after two days at Fort William only when GSE Co-ordinator of Lochaber RC brought two kilts for us – myself and my team-mate Dr. Snehal Lokhandwala.

After one night stay at Alexandra Hotel in Fort William, we all were to stay with different host families. I was dropped at Alan’s home by a rotarian. Alan & Denise run B&B (Bed & Breakfast), to which we call a Guest House here in INDIA. Interestingly, when I reached there, Alan was outside and was going somewhere. He invited me to join him directly, so we did transfer my luggage to his cars and went off. I was amazed to know that they had purchased a land and were building a new home for their retirement. The house was amazing. Spacious and in-front was the river and mountain range. Just like a house on hill-station. We stayed there for a while and she showed me the entire house. One thing I remember him saying was this “You spend money for Air Conditioning, where here we spend money for hitting our houses.” And how right he was!

I met Denise when I reached back to their B&B cum home. She was so kind in greeting me. They gave me some time to freshen up. I was given a separate room which had all the facilities I might ask for.

View from Window of my room @ Fort William when I stayed with Alan & Denise Kirk

View from Window of my room @ Fort William when I stayed with Alan & Denise Kirk

They used to make delicious breakfast. I enjoyed having toast & butter with some home-made jam too. Also enjoyed pudding & porridge. After dinner we used to sit together and chat about our cultures. Alan & Denise have travelled many countries in the world and were planning to come to INDIA, so I could suggest him with few places he might like to travel. Actually, he already knew about Taj Mahal(Agra) and Rajasthan. I just showed him those places in map.

One thing I remember from our conversation was that, they mentioned at one point “We work hard and enjoy our holidays.” and they were so true. At the age of retirement, they run B&B which requires great deal of energy. To take care of guests, prepare their breakfast, take care of room-service etc. One of them have to remain at the home all the time. It wasn’t easy job. So indeed they work hard.

I also enjoyed Scottish Country Dancing with Denise. Denise, thanks for teaching me some steps. I still remember those steps.

I am really very much thankful for all the hospitality they have rendered to me. I am not just saying it, I mean it. Thanks Alan & Denise.


Devang Vibhakar is the Founder and Editor of www.SpeakBindas.com. He has interviewed more than 350 people. His effort was recognized by Limca Book of Records, twice. He has been to Scotland as well as Germany as part of vocational & cultural exchange programs and has compiled five books so far. He's passionate about bringing forth interesting stories & interviews of entrepreneurs to avid readers of SpeakBindas. He can be reached here.

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