The feet. The ankles. The knees. They are aching. They are not used to being subjected to carrying the heavy weight above (the rest of me) for so long. It was meant to be a short ride. Not so long.
It seemed like a long time ago, but in reality it was only 40 minutes back that I decided to walk it to the nearest bus stop, and take the bus to Jayanagar 4th Block complex. I got a bus almost immediately. I got a seat too. And then I gave it up. At the very next stop an elderly gentleman also got into the bus, and I got up and offered my seat to him. He thanked me, and sat down. I moved closer to the door, anticipating that my journey would end in another 5 minutes on a traffic free Sunday evening.
That’s when Mr. Murphy decided to strike. The bus got stuck in a gridlock. It took a good 15 minutes to break it up. Traffic had built up by then, and we virtually crawled into the 4th Block bus stand. As I got done, the elderly gent also got up from his seat and asked with concern in his voice “Why did you give me your seat if you are getting down now? I thought you were getting down at the next stop?” I shook his hand, smiled, and walked away to my destination – a book shop.
Later, I am across this blog article – http://jimwoodsblog.blogspot.com/2010/12/tom-peters-physics-of-kindness-and_26.html – and it made me ask myself some questions:
Why did I do what I did? Courteousness? Would I have done the same if I knew that I would have to stand for 20 minutes? Was this an isolated act of kindness on my part?
The article makes one point that “it takes energy to propagate kindness”. And that kindness does not propagate easily for this reason. Perhaps I had rested well that afternoon to be kind to a stranger. Perhaps my children do not see that aspect in me, when I come back home late at night (tired? energy less?) and ask them about their school work!
To quote a Chinese Taoist philosopher: “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.”
I was the recipient of an act of kindness myself from a stranger myself. I was eating dinner one evening at what we Bangaloreans refer to as a standing joint – Prasiddhi – about 100 m away from home – and was finding it too spicy for my taste. Those who have been to such places would know that there is a water cooler from which the guest is expected to take water in steel tumblers (lottas). I had taken one, and already finished it. Unknown to me, one of the workers had been observing me from across the counter. He came out into the dining area, went to the water cooler, filled up water in a fresh tumbler, and brought it and kept it on my table. He then asked me “sugar beka saar?” and without waiting for my answer, went to the juice counter, and brought some in a small steel bowl. This guy, and the others typically work from 7 AM to 9 PM every day. They stay on their feet most of the day. It was about 8 PM when this happened. Where did he find the energy to be so kind? He went back behind the counter. I thanked him after I finished my meal. He seemed to be embarrassed by my thanks – did not want to draw attention to himself I suppose.
So, dear reader, have you been kind today?