Tuesday, January 08, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers...

I left home at the age of 15. When I did, I wasn't too worried - for some reason, I had a quiet confidence in my own abilities to survive and thrive wherever life took me. Over the last 8 years, there have been several times when I have been faced with seemingly impossible situations which I have then successfully gotten out of. Many times, it has been my own resourcefulness - I have (very deservedly) the reputation of a scrounger and a "chussu" among my friends - but many more times, it has been the help of strangers, people I haven't met twice who have gotten me out of a mess.

The day I landed in Delhi for admission to school (alone - my father had been abroad for some work), I managed to lose the draft that paid for my school fees as well as was denied admission in school due to absence of my board results. I was basically, left stranded in a city where I didn't know anyone and didn't know what to do next. Then, I was helped by somebody from my own town who had come to drop his son. He took me to his relative's place where I stayed for 4-5 days (they also loaned me the money for my fees) until I managed to get admitted. I was never able to thank them properly/take their address or even manage to locate the uncle - but they are people I am much indebted to.

The other day, I was in an airport, flying from abroad, and an hour away from the departure time, realised I didn't have any money to pay for the airport tax - they wouldn't accept my currency, and there was no currency changer available. I then stood around requesting people one by one until an old lady from New Zealand obliged giving me the $20 required to board the flight and reach home. She never replied my thanks email and I guess she is also lost to me.

I don't know how to drive - my roommate drops me to my office, and when he doesn't, many days I stand outside my house asking for a lift. It surprises everyone I tell this to - but almost every fifth guy agrees - and many sometimes go out of their way to drop me to the right location. I was recently travelling alone in the South, and on the way navigated purely by asking people - and was never once sidetracked.

Since, every post needs to have some point (or atleast a semblance of one) this one's is - when in trouble, sometimes we just don't ask people around us - maybe it's some ego thing (or a fear of rejection) or insecurity of being taken advantage of, but my experience has been that, more often than not people are nice and helpful and in the worst case, indifferent.

Last night, I returned home at 11 to find that I had been locked out, and my roommate wasn't due to return till 3. But I didn't have to freeze in the Delhi chill because one of my neighbours (we hadn't laid eyes on each other before), took me in and gave me a gadda, pillow and rajai to sleep on until my roommate returned.

Obviously, when I narrated this to my room-mate, he took it as a one-off, but I have grown to believe that the stranger is a more helpful guy than we think, and when in trouble, we shouldn't hesitate in looking around, and saying "Please...".


Atish said...

funny that u wud write abt the help that we get from strangers... i blogged abt it a long time ago :)
good to have a post finally..
(the last 3 dont count!)

Wanderer said...

[atish]funny, i don't remember reading that - pls send me the link

Atish said...


the tone is quite different tho and the stranger bit only forms a part of the post...