Kindness on the Road

It must have been 8 years, probably more.

I was backpacking in the interiors of Tamil Nadu, travelling in local rickety state buses and sleeper class trains. I didn’t know the local language but somehow I was able to convey whatever I wanted to say.

kindness on the road

In those crowded packed buses, I mostly sat on the seats near the driver or on the bonnet itself. That’s a good place to observe people and also look out in the front in order to know my designated stop. But that day, I remember, was fortunate to get a ladies seat. Aha! I had my window seat! I always feel contented looking outside from the window. It actually makes me happy seeing the landscape, fields and people performing their daily chores. Small villages passed by and then our bus halted at a small town.

A woman with an infant in her lap boarded the bus and sat beside me. She had a shawl around her and she looked obscure. There was a bad odor coming from her as if she had not taken a shower for days. Since it was hot and humid weather, I opened the window. That time hot air coming through window soothed me. It was last leg of my journey and wanted to soak in the local flavor whatever I could, before heading to Chennai from where I was to take a train home.

Hardly 5 minutes would have passed and all of a sudden the infant started howling. The woman tried to calm him down but in vain. Probably he was hungry. She looked at me adjusting herself in a feeding position and wrapping both of them with her shawl.

I moved more towards the window giving her almost one and half seat. I continuously looked outside the window giving them enough privacy for their moment. She was continuously moving and at times it looked as if she elbowed me. By this time I was also half covered with her shawl. I was stuck to window now. Two more stops within 20 minutes and then she alighted.

road trip india

Bus reached my stop after another 40 minutes. I had to change my bus here. I alighted and gave a quick look around the place, slipped my hand inside my sling bag to check the correct bus number. Then suddenly I realized zip of my sling bag was open! Rummaging through my bag I checked inside and to my horror, my wallet which also had my ATM card, was missing! That woman had done the trick using the baby to her advantage.

Ran towards the ticket counter to narrate my story and to know about the bus which dropped me there. No luck. Nobody could understand what I was talking about.
Fortunately, a college student with broken English came to my rescue. God bless him. He translated the whole incident to others. But nothing could be done now. The bus was gone and the woman, much before that. Oh yeah! My money too.

I must’ve checked my backpack at least 30 times in the hope of finding some money in some corner. No, I had taken out all that morning itself and had kept in the wallet.

Advice started pouring in as how & what I should be careful about while traveling. Reporting to police didn’t make any sense. I would have wasted my time and missed that last bus which I must take to reach my destination before dark.

The ticket fare for the next bus which I was to take, was Rs 70 and I didn’t have a single penny on me! I moved away from the counter, stood motionless thinking deeply about my next steps. Stranded on the bus stop, I must have looked a very disturbed person.

A few minutes later, that college student approached me with a few Rs 10 notes in his hand.

Do you want to know what he said?

We are very sorry that this incident happened in our area and we regret it. We understand your problem. We have collected some money for your ticket. Please accept it.” By now some more people had joined him.

I was utterly surprised! Apparently that boy requested fellow passengers to help and they all contributed Rs 10 each! In all Rs 180 was collected and now they were requesting me to accept it. In the heart of my hearts I knew I could not take the money but the situation commanded that I accept, much against my wish.

I do not know what I would have I done, had not that timely help come my way in the form of that stranger. We meet many people on the road…. who help us in time of need or distress without expecting a return. He was one such soul.

That was one of the stories from my kitty. The Kindness on the road.

I am starting a new monthly series on this theme. Last week of every month I’ll bring you stories from travelers who have experienced the kindness on the road and like to share and spread it for the love of travel.

It’s about Kindness on the road. And the people reinforce my belief that the world is not that bad. You may want to read some other posts on the same theme.

Good deed not dead!
Lost and found
Kindness on the streets of Bangkok
The unexpected side of travel

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81 thoughts on “Kindness on the Road

  1. Well written. Loved the way you have narrated the incident. Apt title for your post. All the Best for the series. 🙂

    Cheers,
    Sriram & Krithiga

  2. Inspiring story. I like that you wrote about the positive side of it.
    It makes you a great traveler.

    keep inspiring us.

  3. God sent Samaritans, it is incidences an experiences like these that make us truly believe in the goodness of humanity. Lovely initiative!

  4. Nice of you to distill only the good things from your experience. Makes u a great traveler.

  5. Oh my! That was quite an incident. I can imagine your plight when you found you had no more money on you and how overwhelming it was when the boy handed those 10-rupee notes.

    That’s a story forever. 🙂
    Have a good week, Nisha.

  6. It’s so sad when people cheat you on basic instincts of kindness. And then it’s heartening when strangers come together to help. I guess that’s what makes life interesting. The yin and the yang.

  7. OMG that is so sad, i guess that would be worse for a foreigner! I hope it didn’t happen to you here in my country, as we also have some of those problems. I have been to Ooty via Chennai. Some organizers fetched me and housed me for 1 night in a hotel in Chennai. The hotel is supposed to be a good one, but i am so glad i brought a few noodle packs, so just got some hot water already in the room. The arm rests of their restaurant chairs are very thick with scum, real dirty, that i can’t eat whatever is in the menu. Anyway, that is also a good experience.

  8. What an experience ! But having traveled many cities and countries myself, I believe this could have happened only in India. On one side money being stolen like professionals at play and on the other hand people ready to help in the worst circumstances, hospitality at its best! Two sides of the India we love.

  9. Thats what we call a “Learning experience” well almost similar has happened with me just the kid missing in the story.. But yes that incident made me much awake in my future journeys.. Incident happened when I was doing my first journey alone, not much far but was in 6th standard only, but till date thankfully I came back with all the possesions #NazarNaLage … Great piece mam, looking forward for series..

  10. This is very inspiring story. Good learning experience from the road.
    I am happy that people helped you. I am frightened to think what would have I done in the situation.

    God bless you for bringing these stories to us.

  11. Kindness on the road changes the person in us. Once, I was without a single penny and had to walk to the airport from the city, a car stopped by and offered a ride for free. I always believe we shall also offer a helping hand whenever it is required.

  12. Having lost money during a trip, I can surely feel what exactly you would have felt at that very moment.
    What a wonderful perspective and a heart warming theme! Looking forward to more on this series.

  13. Difficult times and some random act of kindness! It is surprising how often we meet some amazing people randomly and they make some special place in our memories. Just glad you got help in that situation 🙂

  14. Well written, great story of the kindness of people around us. We have experienced lots of people ready to help us when it looks like we are having difficulty. It must have run you through a great deal of emotion, one moment you have lost all of your money and you are stuck not knowing what to do and the next moment getting help for those around you to get you back home.

  15. Thanks for the interesting tale. I wasn’t aware of that specific scam and it’s definitely one i would have fallen for a million times over, given the discomfort I would certainly feel with a howling hungry baby! A great idea to continue to share stories of kindness and one that I’m sure readers will appreciate!

  16. That is such a touching story! I love it. What worries me is what that woman was doing to make that baby cry? Scary stuff. I’m so glad it worked out and that you met such wonderful locals.

    1. Carol, these women mostly pinch the baby hard to make them cry. 🙂
      And nobody notices that. It’s their way of working…. modus operandi.

  17. What a great story! Sorry that had to happen to you, but glad it all ended up. Sounds like you encountered some wonderful people–it’s so great to see kindness like that when traveling! We’ve been on the receiving end of stranger’s generosity as well and it definitely restores faith in humanity! 🙂

  18. It is sad that people will use babies and children to carry out theft and other crimes. Thank god for kind people. In a situation like that I don’t know what I would have done. I am so happy it worked out for you.

  19. I love the way your writing tugs at the heart and that is why I keep coming to your blog. Instead of see this, do that travelogues, you write engagingly about the people of the place and this new series is something I am looking forward to. Do you know I was moist eyes as I neared reading the end of the blog. A similar incident happened to me when I didn’t even have Rs. 20. I spent all the money and there was no ATM. I was stuck in rural Bihar and a rickshaw guy offered to transport me for free from Nalanda to Bihar Sharif. And this happened in the much maligned state of Bihar. Travel sure breaks myths and ice! By, the way, I was surprised to learn that you also enjoy traveling in sleeper class trains and rickety roadways buses. The bonnet seat and the seat next to the driver are my favourite.

  20. You know why I love your writing? because it comes from your heart.
    Direct!

    I love the way you play with human emotions to describe your story. Another touching piece from you. You are one of my favorite writers.

    And I am looking forward to this series.

  21. Whoa! What an inspiring story. I enjoyed reading it.
    I just knew that Tamil Nadu have different language than yours.

    There are always bad people and good people along the road, so we must be careful and grateful with them 😀

    1. Thank you for reading and liking it Arif.

      Yes, there are always bad & good people and the purpose of this series is to bring out the good ones, share them with the world and inspire people to travel.

      And you are an idol here. 😀

  22. Hi Nisha!
    Amazing article! As you, I believe there are more good people in the world than bad ones, and I have witnessed some much kindness and love that makes me still have faith in human kind. Bad moments, bad things will happen to us, doesn’t matter if we are traveling or staying at home, but is the positive attitude and the kindness of people that surround us that makes all the difference.
    Cheers,
    Nat

  23. The kindness of strangers is a powerful force. I cannot count the times I have encountered people on the road who totally brightened my day with a smile or a kind word or deed. I have to confess that I am not always one of those amazing people, but I am working on it!

  24. I like your new project kindness on the road. What a great story! I would be so terrified but I can remember a similar experience where I was stranded without any money and was able to catch a ride to my hotel. It’s kindness of people that reminds us to take time to help others as well!

  25. Beautiful story. I think this is an important series. I have met so many strangers on the road, many of whom have given of their time and talents to help me. Thankfully I haven’t lost my wallet yet (well once in Los Angeles, but that was easy to fix), so haven’t had to find money for a bus ticket. But if that did happen and I couldn’t find a way out, I trust someone would be there to help me. People are very good.

  26. What a wonderful story. There is goodness in humanity!! This gives me much pride in our human race. And as for the lady and the baby…let karma deal with her 🙂 So glad you were able to get to your destination safely. What a wonderful travel series you will be starting. Looking forward to reading more kindness stories 🙂

  27. India is full of good Samaritans in every nook and corner, but often they get neglected because of a few con artists.
    However, one should always keep their guard up while traveling in India.

  28. Arghh. This story reminds me of my time in Paris. I was on one of the trains and this lady who kept on smiling at me has friends who where bumping me and pick pocketing. When I got off the train I reached into my pocket and my iPhone was gone. I cannot express that sinking feeling, and like you I kept checking my pockets like it’s gonna suddenly appear. We went to the police station, they wrote some stuff down but I knew for sure that I was not getting my phone back. For the longest time I hated Paris. But that was a while ago (iPhone 4) and I’ve kind since moved on but it changed me as a person for the better. As travellers, I think it’s a necessary lesson to learn.
    Thank goodness for good people.

  29. This resonanted with us more than you can imagine! We lost our passports in Europe (it wasn’t stolen though) – but strangers stepped in to help us, and helped us get back home safely.

    We did write about the steps to take in such a situation on our blog, but would love to share our experience of how it happened and credit the person who helped us out.

    Let me know if I can write to you or send more info about it.

    Supriya

  30. This is a very inspiring story. we are lucky if we can find such people.
    I also have a story. how can I contribute?

  31. I like how vividly you described the bus in Tamil Nadu. This is a very sweet story and touching to read- or at least the ending is uplifting! But I’m sorry you had a moment of panic, I would never have suspected a woman with a baby and would have also lost my money, probably.

  32. What a great story! First funny to read and later surprising. Good to hear how strangers helped you! This kindness on the road story is really nice. Can’t wait to read ml another story next month!

  33. What an inciting story; very well written. What happened at the end was such a kind gesture. I can understand where they’re coming from. I think all good people deep down want their culture and their country painted in a good light, I think I would do the same for someone troubled in my country. It’s so nice to hear stories like this and can’t wait to read more about kindness on the road!

  34. WOW! What an experience! Love that you managed to find the positive side to it and focus on that. Great narrative and a beautiful inspiration to pass along to other travelers.

  35. Very interesting and touching incident. Goes to prove that kindness and consideration still exist in this world. It is because of these kind of people that the world is really worth living in.

  36. Wow such a touching story – especially that a local had that kindness in their heart. Just goes to prove that kindness and gratitude is a universal language around the world!

  37. Amazing how we can find the best and worst of humanity in the same place. I’m sorry you had the negative experience but love that you were able to turn it into a series of Kindness on the Road. I can’t wait to read future stories, and I hope you find tons of kindness to write about!

  38. Oh wow I cant believe the lady robbed you! Who would had know, you see a mother and child and automatically let your guard down. That was so kind of him to help you and get everyone else involved too!

  39. Beautifully written story. Too bad you had to go through this. It is through experiences like this that you get to appreciate people’s kindness.

  40. What a story, people are in essence good. And good on you for creating an entire series of articles on the kindness theme. There aren’t enough positive stories out there.

  41. How lovely that something so positive came out of this experience. I do genuinely believe that most people are kind so it was really encouraging to read that this story had such a good outcome.

  42. Wonderful Story, and Love the Kindness on the road idea for a series. You will find that everywhere. Miss India very much, we were there for 3months last year – it was our first time. Absolutely magical and life changing. thank you.

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