Posts Tagged With: acts of kindness

The lady with one Good Leg

Well, that is me. I’m currently the lady with one good leg as was the name given to me by our cab driver. 

Last week we were on a family vacation in Amsterdam and just the night before we were flying back, I ended up slipping and badly twisting my foot. It was hurting, but it didn’t feel that bad. I found some ointment in the medicine cabinet of the home we were renting and slept. In the middle of the night I wake up with this huge swollen foot and a pain that is shooting, radiating and throbbing all at the same time.

We had an early morning flight and somehow through my tears and help from everybody, I got ready. When Naheed offered me a pain killer, I didn’t say no and even kept an extra one for the flight. 

I limped to the cab and the our cab driver, Fred, asked which airline we were all flying with. Our sisters were flying United and we were going KLM. and then he ask, “and the lady with one good leg”, which airline is she on? We said KLM. That’s good, he says. He dropped us right at the gate which was closest to KLM assistance and directed the rest for United. 

I was in no situation to walk the lengths and breaths of what airport terminals have now become but I didn’t want to take a wheelchair. I told Sikander I will lean on you and we will slowly go to the gate but after 5 steps I knew I couldn’t. While we had not pre-booked airport assistance; KLM staff was very gentle and helpful in arranging everything. This was my first time in a wheelchair at the airport. I was so conscious. I was thinking what will people think of me… I am not old, I had no cast on my legs to say I was hurt. I had no “visible” label to say I was hurt. People might think I’m just abusing the system. Every time we skipped the queue and were asked to come forward, I would keep my head down or make a sad face to show that I really was in a lot of pain. 

There were two things that struck me. First was, My injury was bad enough that I had to take help. I needed help but why was I conscious of taking it? Was asking for help, in some ways accepting that I’m imperfect? I had this back and forth argument in my mind and I’m glad I finally chose to be happy about the state I was in. It isn’t everyday that I am wheeled around an airport so why not make the most of it! I asked Sikander to take me around and I gave everyone a big smile when they moved to make space for me. I was very comfortable once I let go of my need to justify help. I just enjoyed all the help. 

Using airport assistance at Schipol Amsterdam

The lady at the toilets, opened the disabled bathroom for me and I went it. the guy at the security opened a closed lane for me and I went in. The girl at the gate helped us go in first and I went. I even asked to get a photo clicked 🙂 The flight was nearly full, and we were the only other row that had no other passenger and it wasn’t a coincidence.

The crew was super sweet in their care and concern. Since it was just a 2:30 hour flight, they had no ice but they gave me the coldest can they had to do some cold compress during the flight. 

The same treatment continued at the Bucharest airport too after arrival 🙂 We went to the hospital emergency and a quick x-ray showed no fractures and only a bad sprain. Cold compress and elevation… that is all that is needed. But I had fun even though it hurts.

Thank you note for flight crew

The second and more important realisation was I figured I was having these thoughts because probably I also try to find  “visible” labels on people using assistance? But we aren’t always carrying labels on ourselves. I should be sympathetic and patient with everyone I come across. Maybe they have an invisible sprain that says, “had a bad day”; “going through a breakup”; “feeling a little low today”; “just recovered from a fever” and what not. 

I will from now on, try to remember that we all have invisible labels and we all need a little patience from each other!

Categories: Travel | Tags: , | Leave a comment

generosiTREE: Random acts of Kindness in Herastrau Park

“It’s a generosiTREE.. did you get it? TREEEEE…”

I heard a teenager explaining her surprise and excitement at the play of words to her younger sibling.

random acts of kindness in park, kindness drive in Bucharest

Couple of weekends ago, I had this simple idea of some random act of kindness in Herăstrău Park.

We had gone to the park as part of my husband’s team community run initiative and initially we hung the board on a tree where most of us had collected. It was great to see the excitement, both of adults and children.

Within our group everyone took one act to do either during their run or on their way back home. Later we went around the park with the board to offer them to everyone in the park and that’s when it hit me. We were very excited with what we had done and felt everyone will be open to it. But it was difficult to even have people listen to what the idea was… everyone thought we were out to sell something… We would approach asking if we can have a minute of their time… and the response will go like “I don’t speak English”; “No.. I don’t want to listen to you..”; “We are very tired, we can’t do this” 

random acts of kindness in bucharest

People who agreed to listen were an exception. Which is not difficult to understand because the world that we live in, we are all vary of strangers and strangers approaching with big smiles and a board with colourful post-its! “They are out to get something from me!” 

Even those who listened, would ask, “okay so what’s the story? What are you promoting? What cause do you work for? What do I have to do after I do the ask? Where do I need to share it?” And when we said the story for us ended with them picking up an idea and they can choose to do it or not do it and then possibly pass it forward. They would be totally surprised. “That’s it! We just pick one act?”

“Yes! You just pick one act.”

And that’s when the frowns will turn into smiles! The best moment 🙂 “Wow! that’s a great idea!”

Slowly people who overheard, were interested when they realised that we didn’t belong to any organisation. One guy picked up “Turn off unused lights” and said that he and his wife were just talking about how to reduce their energy consumption! Another picked up “Give a group hug to a tree in public” They were a family of 3, with a toddler and they said their little daughter will love doing that act! 

An elderly man was so touched that we came up and spoke with him that he was almost crying! 

For us it was a joyous practice both when people took the notes and when they didn’t. The people who took, offered us a gift by receiving our idea and those who didn’t taught us humility and gave us reasons to step-it-up! 🙂

 

PS: If you wish to get all the ideas we had put up on the board, feel free to message me and I will email the to you!

 

Categories: Volunteer | Tags: , | 2 Comments

The SMILE Deck game

Every trip to Ahmedabad gives me something new to write! There is so much that I receive there that I can just not let it pass without sharing and giving back 🙂 I shared it on Volunteer Weekly, but like the Seva Cafe volunteering experience, I wanted to share it here as well. But this one is a shorter version of the original article.

Last month when I was in Ahmedabad; Mihika gifted me a SMILE deck.

SMILE deck, SMILE cards, random acts of kindness, pay it forward, little acts of kindness

Four suits of the SMILE deck

The smile deck is like any other deck of cards – 4 suits with 13 cards each and 2 Jokers – with a twist that each card has a unique kindness idea. These decks were created by a group of volunteers, people just like you and me.The four suits are four categories for kindness towards people you know, stranger, yourself and for the world. You can view all the ideas here:

    Clubs: For People You Know
    Hearts: For Strangers
    Diamonds: For Yourself
    Spades: For Our World

My SMILE deck has become a game now. I started with the Joker card as soon as I opened the deck – telling a joke to the person who gifted it to me. For a week I thought about how to use it. And then I decided to pick one card at random every day and do what it says. I have to confess that I haven’t been able to stay one-a-day with them as I had initially thought but the game is on till the deck gets over and it has been fun and rewarding. Here are some that I have picked till now and what I did :).

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Categories: around us, go green, Volunteer, work | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kindness in Strange Quarters – Encounter with an Auto Walla!

I should say it upfront! I think this post is fairly long.. but I do hope you will have the time to read it through 🙂 I didn’t want to cut anything from the post after I re-read it to shorten it a little 😮

Long time back when I had attended a workshop on storytelling as a means of communication in development, I was amazed to see how most participants when asked to choose and tell a real story (with a message in the end), picked up a story where an act of kindness from a stranger had led them to question their distrust on strangers.

Sometime ago when I went to Gandhi Ashram, I met these young enthusiasts who have been helping people with no expectation of return and living lives on the principles of pay-it-forward or the gift economy. It brought forth so many random acts of kindness… kindness to strangers… an effort to renew our trust on each other, a belief that not everybody out there is going to cheat us.

As kids we used to trust people so easily. Just yesterday I was telling my friends how me and my sister used to walk back home for 2 kms (after a 14 kms bus ride) from school in scorching heat and we would wave at strangers, we would stop at anyone’s home and ask for water or just shade, we used to take lift from strangers without thinking twice. But today every mother will warn her children to be careful of strangers, not to talk to them, not to take anything to eat/drink from them. And rightly so, I’m not saying they are wrong. This caution is off course stemmed from the various child abuse/ abduction stories that get highlighted in media and are told over and over again. One story is repeatedly used to magnify our fears manifolds.

I think I’m digressing too far… What I wanted to say was we need to share more and more ‘good’ stories… We need to remind ourselves that the world is after all not such a bad place, that we don’t need to keep looking for monsters under our bed! The unknown is not always dangerous… Off course caution is necessary but distrust is not.

I shared one such story of how I was moved by kindness from Indian railway catering staff when I boarded the wrong train at Pune station. Yesterday a friend of mine, Prarthana, shared her own experience of kindness from strangers on email and I thought it needs to be told further on. We all take it for granted that the auto-wallas are out to cheat us.. But this one experience shows that’s not the case always! Below is her encounter with an auto-walla in Bangalore:

Today when I left from Adugodi at 7.15 pm (a difficult time to get auto:)) here comes an auto whom I ask “Old Airport Road starting Sir” and I get a reply after a pause of many seconds… “Madam naanu nimge Bidtini adre Madam bejar padako bedi naanu illi swalpa munde hogi ondu parcel collect mada beku, bekandre U turn tagondu illindane meter start madtini”; meaning “Madam I would drop you but if you don’t mind I need to collect a parcel a little further on this road, I would start meter once we take U turn and cross this place”. I readily agreed.

He collected his parcel and appreciated the fact that I didn’t say No and I wasn’t rude like many other customers he would get 🙂 On our way we shared our stories in short. I got introduced to Mr. Murali, who owns this auto, owns a small site and a small house has supported many of his brother and is loking forward for good education for his 2 boys studying in 5th and 7th Grade, does good to his best in life and very important he doesn’t charge a single extra penny from his customer except when he has to go in outskirts where he would not get any customer in return, he stressed saying his meter fare too is accurate:)…

When I reached my destination I realised that I had just missed my bus…. He slowed down and asked me “Madam how much is the meter reading?” I said “Rs 57 Sir”. It was his reply that took me by surprise… “Madam I am switching the meter off here, I am anyway going further to wish a good friend of mine for his Birthday and I would anyway go with my auto empty. So I will drop you to bus stop close by for no extra charge” and started moving further. I had no words….I was feeling so privileged and happy to see his kindness. He dropped me at the bus stop, I asked him how much to pay, he saw chart and new rate applied to Rs 57 was some Rs 75. He said I would want to stick to my commitment Maam, so pay me Rs 75:) I was very much moved by his act of helping and kindness and paid him Rs 80 and 2 Alpenliebe chocolates I had in my bag and lots of heartfelt thanks to show my gratitude and in turn I also got a lot of thanks and his contact no.:) that I didn’t want to miss saving in my phone book!!!

Not all Auto drivers are bad; there are many good people too!!! We crib about few asking more money but please appreciate good ones 🙂

Prarthana is an avid volunteer with a number of NGOs in Bangalore. She is also running the TCS world 10K marathon to raise funds for the NGOs she supports. Check out her story here: http://prarthanarunappeal.blogspot.in/

 Have you ever been humbled by kindness from a stranger? I would love to hear your experience!

Image credits: http://bottom-of-the-glass.blogspot.in/2012/03/drawn-in-quarter-ii-iii.html

Categories: around us | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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