Week 28 – Random Acts of Kindness

3rd to 9th of March, 2014

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Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.
– Scott Adams (1957) Creator Of Dilbert Comic Strip

Week 28 found the Sabretoothed Chickens couchsurfing in Greater Noida, about one hour from Delhi. Our host Rishi works as a University Dean and lives in a nice apartment complex far from the rush of the capital. Here we continued to enjoy a quiet phase and Reuben had a chance to recuperate from mild gastro.

Rishi kindly took him to the local paediatrician for a checkup and some medicine. We enjoyed having cornflakes everyday , playing at the local playground, cooking, reading “The Swiss Family Robinson” to the boys and staying in for a change. We were soon joined by another CSer Louis from the UK. This completed our gang and we enjoyed the many small moments whilst we shared meals, conversed and laughed together.

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.
– Bob Kerrey (1943)
 American Politician

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It also gave us time to reflect on all the many kindnesses we have experienced on our travels. There are too many to name or count them all. We are constantly amazed and grateful for the people who have gone out of their way to extend us a kind word, friendly wave, helpful directions, a warm welcome, offer us a place to stay, a warm meal or genuine friendship.

We in turn have tried to give back, especially in acts that show respect to other peoples cultures and traditions – often so different from our own. We have tried hard to listen and understand, so that we can be kind in a useful and compassionate way.

We believe in random acts of kindness as a way to truly make this world a better place and have often gone out of our way to be kind. We believe giving must come from the heart.

Easy charity does little for the giver or receiver. It must move you, at least momentarily: Sharing the food you are enjoying or giving up the seat you wish to have; Giving a jumper because you have two; Holding a baby so that the mum can eat her meal or get some sleep; Buying a book in a child’s first language; Making that extra effort and giving your time, your energy, your thoughts, your smile, your hand in friendship.

Also, we feel it is important to be kind to those who have not been kind to us, to believe that they have had problems or a bad day or a hard life. When travelling, a lot goes wrong and confusion or misunderstanding occurs frequently. We try to subscribe to the phrase: “never attribute to malice, what can be reasonably attributed to ignorance.”

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In life you can never be too kind or too fair; everyone you meet is carrying a heavy load. When you go through your day expressing kindness and courtesy to all you meet, you leave behind a feeling of warmth and good cheer, and you help alleviate the burdens everyone is struggling with.
– Brian Tracy (1944) Motivational Author

So below is a tiny sample of the Random Acts of Kindness, we have experienced on our trip:

  • The many people that went out of their way to keep our family safe. Offering us local knowledge, a lift somewhere, translating for us, stepping in to help, leading the way…
  • Those who gave us practical travel help. Booking a train or recommending accommodation or negotiating a deal…
  • A lady on seeing the boys walk past, went into her home and came out with three oranges for them. – Nong Khiaw, Laos.
  • On hearing I was purchasing pencils to give to local hill tribe children, a kind shop keeper contributed a stack of exercise books to give – Luang Prabang, Lao.
  • The many locals who just met up with us and shared a drink or an event with us.
  • The people who have acted as local guides, showing us their local history, some tasty cuisine or a hidden nook of their town.
  • People on public transport playing games and reading books to our children, a big help on long journeys.
  • The many kind invitations we have had to weddings, birthday parties, birth of new baby, house warming, New Year, Christmas and religious celebrations.
  • An older gentleman on the street that suddenly produced some homemade paper toys from his pocket – Pune, India.
  • All the spontaneous looks of adoration, cuddles and kind conversations showed on our boys.
  • The crafts people have taught us: Prunella making rice parcels at a market in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Prunella learning to make paper lanterns in Luang Prabang, Lao. A spontaneous lesson on making Chappati’s for the boys in  Udaipur, India. Graham tried some meditation in Udaipur, India … and much more.
  • The games we have shared. Lucas playing checkers on the street with locals – Lunag Namtha, Laos. All the boys playing Monopoly with a local boy in his home – Pune, India. We ran relay races on the street with the local kids – Bikaner, India. Street chicket games all over India…
  • Many individuals on trains who on seeing us with children, moved their seat or bunk to accomodate us without our request – India.
  • Whilst Graham was sick on a train, a fellow passenger arranged for his friends to buy medication and bring it to the next station, gave it to us through the window and with a wave was gone. – India.
  • Shared knowledge. Those who have tried hard to help us learn a little of their language, culture and traditions…
  • The many compliments we have received about our children, our family and our philosophy.
  • A shop keeper who gave us directions and later invited us for tea in friendship – Bikaner, India.
  • A man who chatted to us at a chai stall and on leaving paid our bill – Delhi, India.
  • The many meals we have had lovingly prepared for us in the homes of strangers.
  • The love that has been shown to our children by strangers worried for their safety or comfort or tears.
  • Kind words e.g. a  fellow passenger who after our flight to Turkey said “Your boys are a real credit to you”.
  • A bunch of passing school boys stopped and helped us carry our luggage up four flights of stairs whilst we carried sleeping children – Istanbul, Turkey.

So to all of you out their who we were so fortunate to meet – thank you. Thanks for showing us kindness and for those who were gracious enough to receive it. You continue to renew our faith in the goodness of people and the joy of life.

One of the most difficult things to give away is kindness; usually it comes back to you. – Anonymous

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One comment

  1. This is beautiful! You captured some of the often unmentioned moments of magic of travelling through foreign places. It’s too easy to remember the more difficult moments, something stolen, being tricked to go to someone’s store, being ripped off! This made me think about the many, many acts of kindness shown to us more consciously and note them all down!
    Thanks for your comment on our blog guys. So nice to find yours and especially interested to see how well you’ve done with couchsurfing as a s
    family of 4 – to be honest we dabbled with cs in Tahiti and decided it was too hard to find anyone willing to host such a big group. It’s wonderful to see you cs’ing through India and I’m very inspired to try more ourselves as it gives such a wonderful opportunity to meet and experience local culture in a way that’s impossible when you’re in a hotel!

    Let’s stay in touch and I hope our paths cross too!

    Like

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