My friend fell sick with the flu yesterday, so I sent him some tomato soup and stuff. We're all a bunch of students living away from home so I could make out how touched he was by the gesture.
He told me it was extremely sweet of me and he felt like he had a mom away from home now. :)
It was 7 in the morning. I was on a train to another city when I struck up a conversation with a young professional sitting next to me. I gathered that he came from a farming family and was now doing exceptionally well in the IT industry. He also revealed that he was stressed and disconnected from his roots. He was kind enough to give me a window seat, help a co-passenger when he dropped his coffee, etc. Just small acts which showed what a good person he was. I was pretty involved in reading my book - a biography on the Dalai Lama. Anyone who knows me well knows that the Dala Lama has played a huge role in my life although I haven't met him. In fact he is one of the main sources of inspiration I have and reading a book about him which my Dad had given to me was just ... Read Full Story >>
Arriving in a new city last Thursday, I had the strangest first week of graduate school. I fell and broke my leg within 48 hours of arriving there! I was really amazed by the kindness shown by my new roommmate, someone who I had only just met. "We are family now", she said when she found me lying in my room with a swollen leg, unable to move, in a strange city with no family except across three oceans. She took me to the student health center by cab to get my leg examined. The cab driver was so nice and said to me how lucky I was to have a friend like that. After that, my roommate didn't stop helping me - she made me amazing meals and brought them to and made me comfortable despite my insistence that I could do things on my own. When I protested, "I really like helping people", she said , "I believe ... Read Full Story >>
Today was a rainy day and I was walking down the street feeling blessed. I felt like doing something kind for someone else, almost as if I was trying to spread the abundance of love I was receiving. I suddenly saw this teenage girl dressed in tattered clothes, getting soaked and without any footwear. She was making her way through the dirty garbage and sewers, trying to pick something that would be of use. I immediately told her to wait for me there as I ran home to get her something. Spontaneously, I took off my shoes, which I really love, wrapped them up in a plastic cover and gave it to the teenage girl on the street. The girl looked shocked as if she is so not used to this kind of kindness. She almost couldn't believe it. A distinguished musician who lives down the street corner stopped his car to ... Read Full Story >>
There is a big tree in my house where several kilograms of tamarind are available during the right season. Since tamarind is staple food for the South Indian diet, many poor people collect fallen tamarind fruit and dry it to preserve it for the next year. That way they don't need to buy it from the shops. Unlike other houses that have tamarind trees, my parents never shoo away the tamarind pickers from our house. In fact, several urchin children come to my house too and they happily collect the tasty fallen tamarind and nibble them like candy. It's almost become a kind of tradition. I even remember my grandfather actually opening the gate for the street children to pick tamarind! The other day, my mother called an old lady who had come near our gate to discreetly pick tamarind. My father looked aghast, thinking that she was calling the old lady to tell her ... Read Full Story >>
A professor I have worked pretty closely with has been diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. It has been devastating for his family and heartbreaking for his students. What made him extraordinary was not only that he was a phenomenal rising star. He had only recently collected the highest honours for young researchers at the White House. We truly admired him for his inspiring personality - as someone put it, "He always has a smile and a kind word for everyone." It is very hard to find someone who is exceptionally intelligent and also a wonderful , humble human being. My professor's family of four (beautiful, sweet children all under ten) and lovely,generous-spirited wife (who is expecting the fifth), along with their deep spiritual faith has been a continual source of joy for him. All this made us, his students, even more shocked and heartbroken when we found out his cancer was terminal ... Read Full Story >>
It was a hot weekday afternoon and I was on my way to volunteer at a reading session with visually impaired girls. I got in to a rickshaw and immediately struck up a conversation with the rickshaw driver. The rickshaw driver started telling me the story of his life. He related that he had grown up very poor and he and his siblings didn’t have much. He said he worked very hard so that he could make sure that his children had the opportunity to attend a decent school. He said that there were many nights when he would skip dinner to make sure that they would have enough money to send the daughter on a class trip or to pay for his son to attend the computer lab. I was profoundly moved by the simple and matter of fact way in which this man was relating this heart-melting story. When we ... Read Full Story >>
Two days ago I was woken up at 1 AM. My roomie stood at the door (she was returning from a club) along with a huge middle aged man with long hair. "Please let him in", she told me, "He has been locked out of his apartment". She had seen him , cold and shivering (it had snowed the previous night) and immediately asked him to sleep at our place. He was a law student in his fifties who had been doing his homework at the laundromat when he found he had left his keys in his house. I'll be honest, I'm pretty square. I have never had a strange man sleep in my house before. My roommate and I are both less than 5 ft 3 and we have been asked to 'not speak to strangers' since we were kids.Not to mention we're in a new city that we have lived in ... Read Full Story >>
I volunteer at a class twice a week. The setting for the class is in a really beautiful big playground which belongs to a school. After the class, I was sitting with the other women who teach at the class, we were filling out some paperwork and talking away. I was looked around over the playground and noticed that there were some beautiful birds. A few minutes later, I saw the caretaker cycle across the grounds on his way home. He stopped to feed the birds. The caretaker himself is not at all a wealthy person, but he regularly leaves nuts and grains on all four corners of the playground for the birds, and a large bowl of water along with that. This is not part of his duties, he simply does it out of love on his way home; after all the school children have left the grounds. Earlier during ... Read Full Story >>
Moving away gave me a chance to reflect on my good fortune and it was a wonderful opportunity to give away some of my things. I’m not rich, but I decided to make sure that what I have an excess off (thanks to the kindness of wonderful friends and family) is passed on to those who really need it. Once you start, its amazing how much you can do... 1. I donated some clothes which were still in pretty good condition, which used to belong to my roomate or me (partly inspired by the story of Goonj posted by 'Anju73'). I spent a good deal of time laundering and ironing them I also added some lavender scents :). I searched for the right place to give them to. I could have given it to Habitat which is round the corner, but I checked out a great homeless shelter that I had heard about and gave it to them instead. I popped ... Read Full Story >>
I was standing near a store window, waiting for my friend with whom I was supposed to find materials for our college assignment.
I was waiting for quite long, when I noticed an old woman sitting in front of me. She looked very weak and poor and was rummaging through garbage cans looking for food.
Since many people work as garbage collectors, I thought that maybe she was one such person and didn't want to degrade her self esteem by asking if she wanted any food.
Our eyes met and I smiled at her. I don't know why, but she suddenly came to me and said that she was feeling very hungry and didn't have any money. It was evident that she wasnt a beggar but just that her circumstances were tough.
I went to a store in the next street and bought her some food that she could eat immmediately, and a bunch of fruit that she could eat over the next few weeks.
She looked very pleased and blessed me, making *me* feel very happy for a long time.
I think that while some acts of kindness are easy to do or are done in a sort of planned way, there are other moments that test you. In the face of hunger, suffering and misery, my mind begins to rationalise and justify why I shouldn't be helping. However, sometimes after the good fight, a sense of compassions wins and I do something. Otherwise my laziness or fear wins over and I just walk away. Today I faced this kind of choice. I had walked a bit of a distance from my University Campus to my bus stop. I did not have all that much money to spend and wanted to catch the train which was a cheaper form of transport, after which I would have to change to another train and then a bus. I also needed to cross two national highways to reach the stop-places with fast cars and huge trucks ... Read Full Story >>
I was recently on a vacation to Disney World with some of my friends. I never expected to find a chance to exercise my kindness muscles. My friends were going on a scary water ride that I did not want to go on. I waited outside the ride with their camera so that I could take pictures. While I was doing this, I noticed two small children who were alone. It looked like the older one, about 7, seemed to be searching for something, while the younger boy, around 3, was crying uncontrollably. I waited for some time, slightly afraid to approach them in case they would be scared by a stranger. After watching this scene for about 10 minutes, I decided that I needed to find out what was the matter. The older boy explained that they were standing at the exact same spot with their parents just an hour ago and ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, I was out at the beach with my friend and her sister. We had a great time wading right into the ocean, going on the merry-go-rounds, shooting water balloons and eating popcorn and cotton candy. It was like being back in one of our high school carnivals! That was when I saw two little boys in grubby shirts. They didn't have shoes on and their hair looked totally dishevelled. Most likely they were popcorn of candy vendors, but one can't be sure. I saw them emptying their pockets, looking at some food stalls, starting to count the spare change in their pockets. Something about this scene really went straight to my heart. Just across the beach is this really big mall where people spend thousands of rupees buying branded goods. Man, the inequality in the world is enormous. I didn't want to offend the small boys by handing them money. So I ... Read Full Story >>
This morning I was walking in a new park that I had just discovered near my house. When I went walking the previous day, the old gardener had asked me if I had some clothes to give him. He was wearing a tattered vest and it was obvious that although so many people frequented the park, nobody had ever spoken to him before. I gave him some nice shirts and some cake that I had at home. The next morning he told me how thankful he was for the shirts. As I walked, I noticed that the sprinkler that he was using to water the plants in the park was leaking in several places. I went home and brought some scotch tape and scissors, and, with his help, I blocked the leakages. I told him he could keep the scotch tape in case he needed it again. It was then that I got to see his ... Read Full Story >>
I was walking down a busy shopping intersection when a large family stopped me, asking if I knew how to speak Hindi (an Indian language). Most people in my city don't know how to speak Hindi and I cant speak it very well. However, I can understand it and spoke whatever broken Hindi I could with them.
The family consisted of a lady and her husband, their two children and two elder parents. The lady said that their luggage was stolen while they were on the train from their village to the city. She said it contained most of their money and they were all very hungry she asked me if I could spare some money.
In my city we need to be careful of impersonators asking for money but something in my heart told me this was genuine, especially since it was an entire family. I was moved by seeing the sweet, expectant faces of her children.
I gave her everything in my wallet except for the money I needed to get back home, giving her information about the railway police and places to eat.
The family walked away, and I went on my way feeling glad that I listened to my heart.
Recently, my dad was walking along from the office to the high court (being a lawyer). There he saw a young man being beaten up by 5 others.
My dad is really thin and puny and not in the least bit tough-looking or athletic. But something prompted him to just go onto the scene and protect the guy. He hugged the young man and began acting as if he knew him from a long time. Soon, the other 5 rough guys recognized him for being a lawyer and left the youth alone. He thanked my dad and said he could not express how he felt.
Where I live, it is highly unsafe to drink water from taps; so most people buy packaged water when they run out of their own.
The other day I did a really tiny kind act: this lady who seemed kind of poor (she wasn't wearing shoes) sat next to me on the bus home. She mumbled something to herself in a cross way about not having water, how the bus fare has been increased, and about how she needs to buy water now.
Generally passengers never interact with each other, but I thought I could make an exception. I reached into my bag and gave her a packet of mineral water I had bought.
After receiving this unexpected gift, she looked quite happy. We chatted for a while and before I left, she gave me some grapes that she was carrying with her. She wouldn't let me leave the bus until I took the grapes!
It reminded me that sometimes those who have less are so much more generous than those who have a lot. :)
I was pretty inspired after reading this story here : http://www.helpothers.org/story.php?sid=6023 For the past one week,I have been going on "service walks" every day.I just walk around for a couple of kilometres, looking out for ways to help people. So far I have handed out warm lunches to two old homeless men on the sidewalk, a loaf of bread to another, shared cake with a bunch of little kids at a fishing village, given fruits to a group of about 16 people who were homeless and afflicted by leprosy, and boxes of peanut candy for two kids of the juice vendor who I'm friendly with. I feel that in a poor country like India the tradition of anna-daanam or sharing food is one of the best ways to help others. Although at one level it may seem like a quick fix solution, I have tried to be thoughtful and careful on these walks, especially since a lot of ... Read Full Story >>
I was sitting on the bus, waiting for it to start to begin the second half of my two hour commute home. The woman(a stranger) next to me and her daughter seemed to be extremely agitated. She told me that her daughter had fallen sick and was vomiting continuosly; and in the meantime, she had lost her purse, in the confusion of taking the bus. Although the purse had a significant amount of money, it also had a very important phone number of an official, a person that she travelling 90 kilometeres to meet for discussing a pressing matter. I handed her my cell phone without any hesitation and told her she could make any call that she wanted. I also gave her the packets of mineral water I had in my bag to relieve her daughter of her sickness. The mother and daughter, after making several calls, turned to me with grateful faces, and ... Read Full Story >>
Last week, the festival of Pongal was being celebrated in South India.
On one particular day of the festival, families are supposed to have a fun day out - it is the tradition. Nowadays, it is mostly those who are not all that wealthy and can't afford to go out every weekend who follow this tradition. So on this day there will be crowds from even remote rural areas, including people who live in real poverty, on beaches, in movie theatres, parks and zoos in the cities.
On this day, in the morning I spotted the vegetable vendor wheeling eight happy kids who were blowing balloons and having a lot of fun to the park. I mentioned this casually in the evening to someone else. He said that he had seen them too, and in fact had spent some time in the morning praying that it wouldn't rain. He had seen dark clouds in the morning and didn't want the children to have their fun spoilt.
I know this sounds like something small but I don't know too many people who would care about unknown people in the same way.
It finally never rained and I saw the children being wheeled back, tired and happy.
I kept wondering about ways to be kind. I hardly leave my room or the university and I hardly meet people. Then I remembered that my grandfather had bought a new computer and had learnt to use the web recently. My grandparents formed some of my first crystalline childhood memories. They would insist on taking me to the beach every day. I can still recall my grandfather holding my hand and taking me to a park with a duck-pond near my house. My grandmother would feed my cousins and me balls of rice, placing them on each outstretched hand, as we looked at the stars and the moon on hot summer nights. My grandfather would always buy orange juice when he knew I was going to make my twice weekly visit. They would drive over to our home with home made comfort food when I fell sick. These are just a few stories I can remember ... Read Full Story >>
I had two strangers at my doorstep this morning. I asked them what had brought them there, a little afraid because of my parent's Little Red Riding Hood style warnings of dont-talk-to-strangers, and a little surprised to see two unknown people who looked like they could be fellow students in my college. Both dressed in old but neatly pressed clothes, the taller boy began explaining his predicament. He showed me his fees form and said that his exams were starting in a month. He would not be allowed to write his exams without coming up with the entire tuition fees amount. He was studying a Masters Course in Computer Applications in a good college in my city. I luckily have friends studying the same course in my college which meant I could verify the dates and information he was giving me. The bottomline was that he still fell short of 2500 rupees to meet his target of 30,000 ... Read Full Story >>
I was really moved when I saw an old man. He used to previously do gardening and other odd jobs around our area and earn a living. Apparently his famiy has now deserted him since he is no longer young and able. He was wearing just a tattered vest and a dirty veshti (cloth tied around the waist). I felt very sad when I saw him wipe his thick dark glasses and hands with this very dirty shirt. I went home and brought him a nice shirt belonging to my dad. He felt very touched. Since he occupies a pavement in front of a neighbourhood temple that is visited very often, I thought that maybe people would be compassionate. But he told me that he goes without food for several days. Below him there was a filthy orange that someone had given him. I brought him a loaf of bread. Since then on ... Read Full Story >>
An old mendicant came to my road,singing some prayer songs and asking for food.
I was just heading home, and my key got stuck and I couldn't open my door. So when I headed back to the where the old man was sitting on the roadside, with a home cooked meal, fruits and bread, I couldn't find him there.
I walked down the road, thinking that maybe I could find someone else who could use what I had prepared.
On the main road, I stumbled on two little children. They were evidently ragpickers, and they had dropped their bags of trash, peering into an Italian restaurant where several wealthy people were having lunch.
It was such a magical moment, me going there and handing them this package. I can never forget the joy on the little children's faces on seeing the warm food.
One of my classmates and I were doing our project work late at night on my university's campus. I had worn a winter jacket to school that day, since there was a rain in the forecase, a raincoat in my bag. Throughout our work on the project, I could see that my friend was tired from a very long day working. As we stepped outside to begin the long walk home, I noticed she was shivering. The temperature had dropped to the low thirties (Fahrenheit) and she only had a sweater on. I immediately offered her my warm jacket, to which she asked me what I would wear then. I told her I had another jacket and pretended that my raincoat was a jacket. She said later that she woke up the next morning and the first thing on her mind was feeling moved about my offer of the jacket. Coincidentally, yesterday I ... Read Full Story >>
I have recently been volunteering at a center for high-risk kids who live in the slums in Bangalore. These children now have a place to hang out, play and learn in a peaceful way. I was generally lending a helping hand wherever I could -- teaching one child to read English, reading Sleeping Beauty to a group of kids, or playing blind man's bluff with some others. As I got out when the center closed, my aunts' Honda Civic car (In India Honda cars are fancy) stood outside. The children were completely awestruck. They hadn't been so close to a fancy car. The chauffeur/driver got out and opened the door. They examined the inside, exclaiming that it was the coolest thing they had seen. I asked them if they wanted a ride. Four little girls were jumping up and down, so excited that they could barely contain themselves and sit in their ... Read Full Story >>
My friends and I are now going to part soon since my life as an undergraduate is coming to an end. Today one of my friends told me that she would never forget the time she came along with me to a home for senior citizens near my college.
She wanted to make another trip before we left. It was amazing. As we listened to people like our granparents - just spoke and laughed with them. It was amazing how much this little time seemed to lift their spirits.
The funny thing is never before in her life has my friend been into conscious acts of service, although her everyday kindness lights up people's lives. So she truly said she felt joyful after this trip we made- widening the circle of compassion.
I always try to be kind where I can and it usually comes reasonably easily to me to be kind to strangers or semi-strangers. I’ve discovered that it seems to be harder for me to be kind to the people who are closely related to me. I like spending time with my grandparents, who live only 5 minutes away from me, but I sometimes find it stressful and challenging. At their age (they are over 75 years old) they seem to have accumulated a lot of resentment and negativity although they were not like this before. My grandma seems to say negative things about others at any opportunity and my granddad gets immensely stressed and hyper and highly strung about the simplest of things. Last week I visited them a couple of times, and ended up feeling really stressed myself at the end of each visit although there were some good moments. ... Read Full Story >>
I was walking home with my cousin from a Lebanese restaurant. My cousin and I were holding a doggy bag full of yummy falafel, pita bread and hummus.
On the way, I saw an old man , with a sign saying "Save Me Give Me Money" at the signal crossing. He was sitting in a wheelchair, and looked like he might have been on drugs. It was such a cold night, my heart went out to him. I remembered my doggy bag with all the warm food and gave it to him.
Before he could react, the signal turned green and I began crossing the road. I thought this is how acts of kindness should be - when you can't even be thanked but naturally do what you think you should.