26th of August

The Kind Police Officer

Just wanted to share a little moment that made me smile. A moment which is one of the reasons that I so much love travelling.

I am currently in Chennai, Tamil Nadu a city of a little less than five million people – it is a big place. Feeling a little under the weather. I am feel saturated with South India, and my feet are itching to go somewhere else. I am craving the mountains, and dreams of going to Kashmir and Ladakh are starting to form. Also the mixture of 36 degrees blazing heat and intermediate periods spend in air conditioned rooms have made me slightly ill – nothing big just a sore throat and all that.

Being in a large city does not help with my current state of mind. I think when anything gets very big it has a tendency to become a little impersonal. Be it a city, an organisation, an enterprise (do not get me started on large enterprises,human resource management, key performance indicators, processes, etc – I will burst!). I can smell people being nice in a fake way miles away. I feel the hunger for money, and people on the street trying to sell me things that I don’t want, rickshaw drivers calling me their friend etc. So to be honest in large cities I get a bit cynical at times.

Now back to the topic of this post – the kind police officer. It all starts with me hitting the streets early this morning with the mission of finding some chai to make everything better. Thats always easy. Chai is everywhere. Also I wanted to buy some raw ginger that I could chew on the help soothe the sore throat. I must have asked a dozen people on the streets, and they simply did not understand what I meant with ginger. For some reason they kept thinking that I wanted to change money (??).

My luck changes and a man dressed in shorts and running shoes asks me what I am looking for. I explain him my situation and that I want to buy some ginger for the throat. He tells me where the nearest market is, and asks if he should take me there on his motor bike (it is less than 100 meters away and its nothing more than a few minutes of walk). I think before I started enjoying the adventures of traveling the world, if I had met a strange man asking me to get on his bike and drive off with him to the nearest market I would have felt shy and said no no it is fine I will walk there myself. But I immediately feel that this is a genuine act of kindness, and I do not waste the chance for a few seconds drive on his motorbike in the middle of the hectic morning traffic in Chennai.

Half a minute later we are standing in the market. The man at the market refuses to take payment for the ginger as he is a friend of the motorbike guy. Happy about this little moment of human kindness I invite the motorbike guy for a chai (even though I had just had a chai a few minutes ago – you can never have too much chai!). We spend a few moments together just finding out what we both are doing in life. It turns out that he is a traffic police officer. I ask him why he is dressed in shorts and running shoes, and he tells me his big passion is playing hokey. So he is heading off to the beach to do a bit of running practise.

When we have finished the tea he is about to pay for it, but I insist that I want to pay – it is my treat. That was the whole point – I wanted to give something back as a gratitude for his help. We say our goodbyes and I walk back to my hostel for some rest and to chew on my ginger. Feeling happy that genuine kindness exist everywhere.

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