Kindness of strangers l

Athens, Greece

May 2016
10:30 pm

I got a seat beside a friendly, young English man, aged around early 30’s, I guessed. I can see his friendliness from the moment he entered the plane. I found it odd to see someone so full of energy at that time of the night. He smiled broadly and politely asked me to move over for him to get into the middle seat. Since I was having a bad headache that night, I didn’t have the energy to be friendly and replying his smiles was what I could. I managed to get some sleep but the pain in my head did not recover. When I woke up, looked around, he started a conversation with me. “It’s way past our bedtime,” he said, still with a smile. I agreed to it with a simple “Yeah”. The pilot had just announced that we were about to land in 10 minutes. Only then we started to have a ‘real’ conversation, which turns out to be a memorable one. He asked whether I am staying in Dublin(the flight destination), where I’m from and what I’m doing here(UK) -the commonly asked ones. I returned the questions back to him. I found out that he is a Ph.D. student from Sheffield, and that he once stayed in York before. I was a bit surprised when he told me that his father was born in Kuala Lumpur, and his mother who was a nurse worked with a princess from Malaysia – the way he put it. The latter was a bit funny, to be honest. I mean, of all strangers, in the plane you sat beside a person that has such an interesting story to tell, from his experience of having a Malaysian housemate to trying out Malaysian foods. For me, it’s such a new experience. Since it was my first time travelling (short distance only) alone, and to meet with a kind stranger, it really made me feel a little braver. I was always cautious and curious (and still am) about what the people around me think of me -a Muslim girl, with a headscarf, appearance-wise, looking different from everyone else wherever I go- cause people like to pick up the odd things. I don’t really feel the insecurities or anything travelling in groups, but this time around, I became a little bit too aware of the people around me. And so, this stranger man, made me feel a little bit at ease. How I felt the tiniest of connection just because he has some experience related to my country. It would be great though if he could speak some Malay words as well, haha.
But my main point is that the kindness of strangers is the best because you get to see the genuinely kind-hearted people. They are kind to you without really hoping anything in return cause you’ll only encounter them once in your life (well, most probably). And they do not know who you are, regardless of your age, or background, all are worthy of receiving kindness. Sometimes, it only requires a smile to make someone’s day and this is true (at least for me). There are still truly kind-hearted people out there. If you couldn’t find one yet, maybe be one?

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