What it takes to walk that extra mile (?)
Few years back when I moved here, I was extremely delighted about exploring a new culture, learning a new language and making new friends.
Almost an year later, I was as much delighted, though for a different reason this time. I was excited about going back home for vacation. The feeling of spending quality time with family and hanging out with those close buddies in the city was nothing less than ecstatic!
Understandably, weeks before vacation were quite busy at work. This left me with a crammed personal schedule. At last, one Saturday evening, I was able to make time to head on to a web-suggested-shop and buy some ‘Omiyage’ (read as souvenirs). As I stepped out of the shop, I realised that I had some what forgotten the way back to the railway station. ‘Ah! Come on man! This is not ’90s where you need to ask the way when you are lost. This is smartphone era’ said my inner voice. Few seconds later came another surprise — my Huawei had completely run out of charge.
As I decided to ask a passerby route to the station, I spotted a young man few meters away. Well-dressed in business attire and holding a fuming half-smoked cigarette in his hand this young man was walking briskly towards me. Within split seconds I had to recollect all the polite form of Japanese I had studied. Kudos!(to my Japanese teacher :D) I was quite successful in communicating my query.
Minutes later, I had the information about the route and the approximate duration to reach my destination. With two big bags filled with all sorts of ‘Omiyage’ — Chocolates, Green Tea Kit Kat, hand made porcelain, chopsticks, hand fan (Oogi), Ichimatsu doll and what not! — I had to prepare myself for the upcoming 20 minutes of lumber.
Ten minutes and few exchange of those hefty bags between my hands into the stride, I heard a heavy gasping sound from behind. ‘ Ah! You seem to walk fast’ said the new acquaintance of mine. That was quite an unusual remark for someone who was not known for his quicker steps among his friends. Instantly, I stopped. Was it the glee from hearing such an unusual compliment that made me stop instantly? Or was it the realisation that he had come running all the way from where I had first met him? Well, I guess it was a combination of both that brought my stride to a halt.
‘I am sorry. I realised that I got the directions wrong’ he explained in an effort to appease my bewilderment. ‘Shall we walk together to the station from here?’ he continued before I could utter any word. I put in my best efforts to thank him for coming all the way to inform me this. Perhaps I had put in more efforts to this than towards the JLPT exam I appeared for few months later :D .
Despite my stern insistence to continue alone from here, he accompanied me till the station. Through the way, all that I could communicate to him was my sincere apology for putting him through this. As we approached the gates, I was bidden farewell with a broad smile on his face. I was dumbstruck at his boundless kindness. I couldn’t thank him enough. Impulsively, I offered him a box from my ‘Omiyage’ bag and insisted that he accept it as a token of my thanks. After a brief hesitation, he accepted it.
As we parted ways and I entered into the station, I was lost again. Hold on. This time, I was lost in seeking an answer to the question: ‘What does it take to walk that extra mile?’.