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.
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?