Strangers to the Rescue – Belgium, Canada, India

Motivated by the desire to smell and taste new food, my travel bags are always ready. Often these travels are enriched by helping hands offered by total strangers.

Railway Station in Belgium

I was once stranded in a train station in a remote town in Belgium. I knew neither French nor Flemish, the two languages understood in Belgium. I approached the only other person in the station and tried to explain my predicament – in English. He replied – in French, I think – which I didn’t understand. This cycle of explaining and replying went on a few times before I backed out in despair. But he didn’t. He waited until another couple came to the station, approached them, explained a solution to my predicament and requested they share that with me in English!


Another time aid came my way in Toronto. The trip was turning out to be a disaster – the weather was -32 degrees; the client team assumed I was part of a plan to "bangalore" them hence, understandably hostile; project pressure was too high to handle. As a result, I was feeling lonely, desperate, ready to pack and leave. The turning point came in the form of an invitation to "Thursday get-together" by a Sinhalese named Ricardo. The fun loving people who came to Thursday parties helped me cool-off and made me realize I was after all, not that lonely.

I gained enough confidence to make the trip a success – despite the cold. I visited Niagara Falls and other places near Toronto; the project itself turned out successful and the client team became so friendly that on the last day, they gave me a farewell. One of the team members bought me a ticket to the NBA game and dinner too. Can’t ask for more!

Does one need assistance only in a foreign land? How about getting help in your own country? I never expected to need help within my own country, not because I’m haughty, but because I assumed I wouldn’t be in such a situation. That assumption became invalid when I moved to Delhi as an independant consultant.


In Delhi, there was no helping hand from corporate "Le Concierge" desk, nor from pre-settled family members. Without knowing the local language, I was stressed about everything related to settling down – from renting a flat to getting a TV connection. Timely help came from Muthu, a Tamilian who worked with my sister a long time back. Having stayed in Delhi for more than a decade, he not only gave me useful tips, he also searched to find a good locality, got me a flat via a broker. What a relief to have a roof over my head in a new city not knowing the language.

Have you been helped by a stranger? Better yet, have you helped a stranger?

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