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Best Tourist Guide Award Winner Rama Khandwala Was Once A Freedom Fighter

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| October 11 , 2017 , 19:30 IST

Defying everything associated with old age, 91-year-old tour guide Rama Khandwala has witnessed the Independence struggle of India and is still bestowing knowledge on people from all across the globe.

Blessed with an excellent memory, Khandwala was also honoured with the best tourist guide award at the National Tourism Awards that President Ram Nath Kovind presented to her himself.

Deemed the country's oldest tour guide, Khandwala has reportedly witnessed India's Independence struggle being a freedom fighter herself.

Born in a wealthy family in Burma back in 1926, her family moved to Mumbai after the World War II.

Khandwala was the daughter of a recruiter in Rani Jhansi Regiment of Indian Independence League. She and her sister were recruited as sepoys in the regiment by her mother as well.

Talking to a Conde Nast Traveller, she recollected some memories of her time.

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"He loved his country," she said talking of Subhash Chandra Bose, the man who started the struggle. "My years in the INA were the most precious ones. The training was tough. I was promoted to be a Second Lieutenant and led 30 Ranis. That training still keeps me going,'' she added.

Khandwala said, "Sometimes you have to tell the tourists what you think too. Once a tourist was complaining about how dirty and underdeveloped Mumbai was and I asked him what his country was like 200 years ago!It's important to show them that side."

"Being in the INA took the fear out of me. The only rule I had for tourists was that I'd meet them in the hotel lobby when they needed me. They weren't allowed to come to my room and I wouldn't visit them in theirs. I would never say no to a guest or an assignment. I was quite a daredevil," she added.

Revealing how she became a tour guide, Khandwala said that she decided to pursue a government training programme for it after she saw an advertisement. She is now an acclaimed Japanese translator and the most sought guides for Japanese tourists in India.