Respect for elders in India wins ‘Harry Potter’ star’s heart

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L0ondon, Jan 19 (IANS) English actress Miriam Margolyes, who essayed Professor Sprout in the “Harry Potter” series, has found admiration towards Indian culture following a three-week stay in Jaipur. She says she is “aching” to visit the country again because of how well the people treat their elders, especially compared to that in Britain.

During an interview with the Radio Times, the 74-year-old star shared that she was reported to the police while waiting for a train in Britain because she poured water over a young man who would not give up his seat for her at a station, even after she explained she had a bad knee.

She said she was won over by the level of respect afforded in India to senior citizens, which far outstripped how the generation is treated in Britain, reports

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Margolyes said: “Old people have a much better time in India because they’re respected. Here we can’t bear them. But, tough, I demand it. I was waiting for a train at Waverley station in Edinburgh. My knee was hurting so I asked a young man for his seat.”

“He replied, ‘There’s one over there.’ I said, ‘Please,’ and when he refused, I poured my water over him. He swore and another lady said, ‘You assaulted him. I’m reporting you to the police.’ She did. Nothing happened.”

The BAFTA Award-winning star added: “In India, the elderly are seen as heads of the family, there to dispense advice on issues ranging from the investment of family money to the intricacies of traditional rituals. There is a social stigma attached to disrespecting the older generations.”

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Margolyes was one of eight aged celebrities to take part in “The Real Marigold Hotel”, a BBC series that packed them off to Jaipur in India to see if they would spend their golden years in the country.

The actress might be enamoured by the culture, but she asserts that she would not want to move to India full-time because of financial constraints and quality of life.

However, she could envisage spending several months of the year there.

Margolyes said: “I wouldn’t consider retiring to India. There are too many people and it’s difficult walking along the pavements. I’d love to spend two or three months a year there.”

“I want a comfortable old age, and to be looked after – I have arthritis – and money is a factor. You could live well with pots of it, but you’d be with others who were the same and I don’t like that. I have a class prejudice – against the upper class, which is foolish.”

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The other stars who took part in the three-part series, which begins on BBC Two next Tuesday, were former “Doctor Who” Sylvester McCoy, dancer Wayne Sleep, singer Patti Boulaye, comedian Roy Walker, TV chef Rosemary Shrager, ex-newsreader Jan Leeming and flamboyant darts player Bobby George.

Margolyes, who was paid 10,000 pounds to take part in the show, shared: “We all ended up with a profound admiration for the country, its wonderful people, and felt privileged. Of course, we were apprehensive in the beginning.”

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