If I didn’t write and publish this story, I wouldn’t be doing justice to the two strangers who showed me kindness this past week.

Those at work and home know I was travelling for a conference this past week. During the time, I had these two very kind gestures that I felt I had an obligation to write in the midst of what I can only call endorsement of aggression and meanness that has come about as a result of the U.S. Presidential election campaign, its results, and all the subsequent events. It is so important to remain kind and propagate kindness, keep offering the other cheek as Gandhi used to say, no matter how hard it may be. Peace, kindness, love needs to be spread even more.

The first incident occurred while crossing the road. The hotel was right across from the Convention Center but it meant crossing a 6 lane really busy, super fast traffic driven road where the only way to cross was by pressing the flashing lights. Cars just wouldn’t stop and it would be really frustrating. Those who know my physical appearance, know that height has never been one of my fortes :) So here I am struggling to figure out how to cross when despite two tries with the flashing lights, cars just wouldn’t stop. Along came a good samaritan — young man, tall (but then everyone seems tall compared to me) and stated very matter-of-factly “Here, I will help you cross”. And he went on to the middle, waving his hands, making his towering presence known and got me safely across. That was kindness incident number one.

The second was very different but extremely thoughtful. Those of you who know me, know that after almost a quarter century in the United States, I am not a coffee drinker and am super picky about my chai so much so that I make extra chai each morning that I carry to work, where I have a microwave just to satisfy my daily chai demands. When I travel, its a problem because the chai lattes sold at coffee shops are nowhere near what we make in most Indian homes. Well, over a period of time, I have come about to figure a concoction that I order which is reasonably close to what I find palatable. So on my first morning, I went to the coffee shop in the hotel lobby where they brew Starbucks and ordered my self-made concoction. The guy was super nice, made it and asked me to try it. I told him what I needed changed which he did very willingly. The next two mornings I did the same. On the last morning, I had a long day, travel, so decided to sit down and have breakfast, hence ordered plain old English Breakfast tea with the food. The barista came by, saw me seated there and asked “No chai this morning?” So I responded, “Well, I decided to sit and eat today.” He returned in a few minutes with a chai and told me at least twice “Its on the house for you, ma’am”. I thanked him profusely. It didn’t end there. He asked me to check if it was to my specifications. I tried it, let him know it could be stronger and hotter. He insisted on revising it, returned with one of the best chai lattes I have had outside of home. And restated that the drink was on the house. It was so good, I relished, every last drop of it.

In both the cases, neither person asked my nationality, nor immigration status, nor my gender, nor my sexual orientation, nor…. I didn’t know who they were. Perfect strangers… Kindness is not dead. Let us keep it going. Let us make it stronger and let us advertise everyday instances of kindness because we all know the world needs it now more than ever.

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