A little bit of kindness

Is so powerful. And so uplifting. It’s beautiful to be able to give and receive kindness and that is what I am going to write about today.

Yesterday, we went shopping for an umbrella. We ventured a bit further away from where we are currently placed (Sandyford) – to a shopping mall in Blackrock. On our way there, we took a cab, but once we were done, we couldn’t find one.

So we decided to bus our way back home. As we hopped on to a bus, the husband started sorting out the change in order to pay for the two tickets. Since we are new to Dublin, we do take a bit of time to sort out the currency, and there were two people behind us. We let them pay and board the bus so that they wouldn’t have to stand and wait while we sorted out the exact change for our fare.

One of them was an Indian. He smiled and I returned the smile. He then went past us, and stood a little further down, but did not get himself a seat. As the husband took out one coin after another, he came and asked me softly – ‘Can I help? Is everything okay?’

I couldn’t help but break into a huge smile. I thanked him, and confirmed that everything was fine. It was only after that that he proceeded to take a seat in the upper deck of the bus. I was touched. He could see that we were new, unfamiliar with the currency and I think he waited and checked on us – just in case we were short of the fare, or needed something. It was a good thing to do. It was a kind thing to do. Thank you.

Maybe it was one Indian trying to help another. Maybe he would have done it for anyone else too – irrespective of their nationality or ethnicity, but it made my day.

The second such instance happened at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport in Sweden.  A friend and I were taking the return flight home to Reading, UK and it was the day of the World Cup Quarter Finals match between England and Sweden. We shopped about a bit at the airport – picking up books, wooden cutlery, a box of travel sized perfume bottles and some chocolates. There was still time for our flight and we were hungry. Hungry for a hot meal. 

As we sat down to order a meal at one of the food joints at the airport, a waiter came up and apologised to us, saying that the hot section was being closed. (It was the same at other eateries there; we weren’t sure whether it was because of the match that day but most of them were closing down the hot food section. And you could only order a pre prepared sandwich, a box of cold pasta or such).

We looked a bit crestfallen and I don’t remember what exactly we said to each other, but it was in Hindi. Suddenly, this young man appeared. He asked his colleague if she was okay if he served us instead? A student from the South of India, he was doing his masters at a university in Stockholm and had taken a job on the weekends as a waiter to help pay some of his studying costs.

He said, he would be able to serve us a hot meal. We quickly placed our order. He asked us to add a starter or a drink – anything we would like, as a gift from his side. We said no, we were just happy to be served a hot meal. However, when the bill came, he had taken off the starter from the bill. (We hadn’t ordered any drinks.)

When we resisted, he said, he was just happy to come across other Indians, and that it was the least he could do, and asked us not to worry. ‘I have employee benefits, so don’t worry – this won’t add to my costs.’ He wished us luck for our journey back home and then said, ‘Do visit Sweden again.’

Before our journey to Sweden, I had gifted my friend a book called The Kindness of Strangers (A Lonely Planet publication that had about 26 stories of ‘the unexpected human connections that so often transfigure and transform the experience of travel, and celebrates the gift of kindness around the world.’) 

On the first page of the book, I had written a small note, saying that I hope we benefit from – and are able to give back as well – kindness. On this trip and through our lives. We did receive some; and as it is with kindness, you always pass it on – one way or the other. For how can you receive something that is so pure and beautiful and not be inspired to give some of it back when you can?

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