Practice Random Kindness - by Editor

Practice Random Kindness
Four CA students had been pooling in a small percent of their stipend, planning to blow it up in style after their exams. One cold night during the peak of the winter season in Delhi, as Rahul and Ajay walked past the sprawling bungalows, they came across a man huddled up with his small son, shivering even as they slept, their only protection from the cold a tattered cloth tightly wrapped around themselves. They commented on the tragedy of the situation, cursed the state of India, and continued with their Christmas party plans.

               The next day as Rahul pulled out a sweater from his cupboard,the party 'kitty' box fell out. He hesitated for a second, grabbed the box and before he could change his mind, went to the nearest woolen store and picked up as many blankets as he could afford. Then he went to his friends to tell them what he did with their money. At first they just stared at him in disbelief. Then one by one they took turns in blowing him up. Then they sacked him from his position as the treasurer, and finally they collapsed laughing. That night, Christmas eve, the 4 friends went around putting blankets over the shivering bodies on the streets, and when an old man touched their feet in gratitude they swore to themselves that they would keep up this practice every year. And even now, almost 17 years later, if you venture out early Christmas morning, you just might run into the four of them. And if you don't recognize them by the blankets in their hands, you will by the halos over their heads.

               This of course is an act of charity, and not in the capacity of everyone. But even little gestures of kindness and goodwill can brighten up any day. Like the birthday card my brother received from his friend Naman, in California. Naman had paid less postage and so the card had been returned, but to the wrong address. And the person to whom the card had been returned, paid the extra postage, inscribed a small birthday message to 'Arjun - whoever you are', and drew a smiling face on the envelope. That made my brother's day!

               The real nice part about such gestures is that they inspire you to do something similar for others - and so the chain grows. One Diwali, inspired more by the desire to be creative than helpful, I finished off my rangoli design, and then proceeded to decorate my neighbour's doorway. My neighbour, an old woman, and grouchy most of the time, was so touched when she saw it, that she sent over a huge pot of 'kheer'. Now though we still don't socialize much, we send her a gift every Parsi New Year, and she reciprocates on Diwali. And our floor in the building suddenly seems a lot warmer.

                However, certain acts of generosity may not be practical, and neither helpful. For example, many people strongly feel that it is wrong to give alms to a beggar, as it discourages them from seeking constructive employment. Anuradha had a servant who quit work giving some vague excuse, and a few weeks later she saw her begging on the streets of Marine drive. Anuradha, shocked at seeing her in such a state, went up and inquired if everything was all right. She even offered to arrange a job for her, when the servant replied that she has no intention of working again. What was the point in doing back-breaking work when she could earn double the amount by just begging on the streetsNULL From that moment on Anuradha swore never to give alms to another beggar.  

                Not all warm gestures involve spending of money. Mona, a young 23-year old, was wearing a very pretty dress at a wedding, and received a lot of compliments. At the end of the ceremony, on her way out, she came across a lady in the elevator, who tapped her and said 'I've been wanting to tell you for sometime now, that's a beautiful outfit you have on � you have excellent taste, my girl!' And when Mona returned home proclaiming that everyone loved her outfit, the stranger's compliment was the one that stood out most in her mind. Now, 2 years later, it is the only one she remembers. The result? From then on, Mona has never hesitated in paying compliments to perfect strangers. She just goes up to them even if she likes something as insignificant as their nail polish shade! And as she always says 'Who knows - maybe someday, somewhere, someone feels that the best thing that happened to him that day was receiving that compliment!'  

               'Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty - if you think there should be more of something, do it - randomly'. A teenager shoveling snow may be hit by the impulse and shovel his neighbour's driveway too. A group of friends may decide to spend their day entertaining children patients at a hospital, or senior citizens at an old people's home by doing something as simple as talking or reading to them. The hippies of the early '60's, who stood on street corners handing flowers with messages of peace to the passers by, weren't doing much. But they were doing good. 

How many of us actually perform that 'good deed for the day'NULL

               It doesn't have to be a major effort on our part - it doesn't even have to have meaning. Senseless acts of beauty are those little things we can do that makes life worth living - which makes us stop and appreciate the beauty of the human nature, the wonderful things man is capable of doing. Remember, a kindness done is never lost. It may take a while, but like a suitcase on an airline conveyor belt, it will return again. Imagine your car gets stalled on a highway. Many cars pass by, but none stop to help. When you've just about lost all hope on the fellow man, a car pulls up, helps you out of the mess, and in a short while you're on your way. Grateful and thankful, you swear that next time you see someone in trouble, you are going to be the one to help them. However, time passes by and whenever you see a stalled car, you never seem to have the time, and swear you'll stop the next time. But the next time too, you're in a major hurry. Further, you are not sure if helping a stranger would be a wise thing to do. What in this day and age of 'kalyug', who knows what kind of monster is lurking behind that helpless face. It is good to have an open mind, but not so open that your brains fall out! Well, if you don't feel comfortable in giving a lift to strangers, you could drive down to the nearest garage and send someone to their aid. And you could probably offer to make a few phone calls for them too (if they don't have a cellular phone that is). There's always a way if you think about it. So start thinking. After all - kindness blesses those who give, as well as those who receive it. 

               Random acts of beauty are those which are practiced without any intention other than bringing a smile to the face, and a glow to the heart. They don�t have to be pre-planned or even helpful to anyone. In fact, the very senselessness of the act is what makes it so beautiful. Wouldn't a small token gift given 'just for the heck of it' bring more pleasure than a gift received on an occasion like a birthday or an anniversaryNULL

               Most of us are too busy to think about being nice to others. Further, attitude problems and inflated egos are rampant. For us Indians, wishing a perfect stranger good morning as we pass him does not come naturally to us. Nowadays attitudes do seem to be changing though. Education in India seems to be improving with the middle class becoming a major force to reckon with. Armed with their MBA's and Cas, they are all set to tackle the world and to bring the educated service class out there with the uneducated business class. Education brings up the level of decency in any community, along with broadening their views. Thus if you think about it, though we may not appreciate certain aspects of the western value system, the one point worth admiring is that their entire culture revolves around little courtesies. A cashier in a shop would always wish his customers a good day with a smile. Anita, a young girl, was in Boston on a holiday with her friends. Wanting to find out about tourist buses, they entered a post office and asked the lady at the nearest counter as to where they should go to get the information. The lady replied that she absolutely no idea, but if the girls would wait a few minutes, she would gladly check and let them know. As they waited, the lady made a few phone calls, took down a few numbers, and when she returned, she had the numbers of around 3 tourist bus services, their point of departure, and a map of the city of Boston. She sat with the girls a few minutes advising them as to which was the most convenient depot, how to get there, and answering any other general questions. On learning the girls were from India, she expressed her desire to visit it someday, asked them how they were enjoying Boston so far, and wished them all the best before excusing herself and returning to work. Of course they did come across people who weren't so helpful or polite, but they were the exceptions rather than the norm. And the literacy rate is 97%. CoincidenceNULL 

               The Indian government has started taking steps to improve the literacy rate in India. It has started various literacy programs at the village and district level, and is providing incentives to parents to provide their children with an education. Hopefully, the day is not far away when we can expect a certain level of civil behaviour from all classes in society. Of course it is not as if the illiterate do not exhibit kindness and generosity, but they tend to be suspicious of strangers, and have no concept of giving them the 'benefit of the doubt'. An illiterate villager would probably lay down his life's savings in a temple, but would bang the door in your face if you went over and asked for help due to an inbred suspicion of strangers. We have a long way to go before we can start trusting our fellow human beings and believing that human beings on the whole, are nice people, who are not all out to get you. Maybe then we shall be able to exhibit random kindness and senseless acts of beauty more freely, after all, one would rather do something nice for a person when he knows it would be appreciated. Everyone appreciates charity, but no one with a suspicious introverted nature will take kindly to a stranger offering a flower. Yes, it's going to take time for the message to pass, but you have to start somewhere. Now is a pretty good time, but if you are waiting for the kindness to be reciprocated don't hold your breath. It will turn up when least expected - people are full of surprises after all.


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Comments on Article

Name: mammu72
City:   malappuram
Comments:   look delivery
Name: anthara
City:   bangalore
Comments:   touching &beautiful
Name: krista
City:   Penang, Malaysia
Comments:   great article. love your website.
Name: Rose
City:   Kollam
Comments:   Great Article ..Thought provoking..
Name: Rama
City:   San Francisco, CA
Comments:   Very nice article. And very meaningful too. Thanks for providing such beautiful thoughts to the community.
Name: simran
City:   mumbai
Comments:   WONDERUL!!
Name: radhuka
City:   california
Comments:   luved the article. very inspiring.
Name: emani
City:   Sweden
Comments:   Something to make a reality in our daily lives... To live the dream,like Gandhi and Mother Teresa,and make our existence worthwhile.. Thank you for this article,it will inspire many good deeds-Im sure!
Name: ify
City:   port harcourt ,nigeria
Comments:   That piece is quite interesting and challenging.
Name: Andy
City:   Long Island, USA
Comments:   i dont need a website to tell me how to do good deeds. :| but yeah. there are way too many scumbags in this world who only care about themselves. they will go to hell when they die while people like me will go to heaven. :) people are like Lucky Charms (the cereal). the good people represent the few marshmallow pieces while the bad people represent the non-marshmallow pieces that the box is filled with.
Name: Rasmita
City:   Pune
Comments:   Thanks a lot for trying to add values to our lives by inducing such devine thoughts in us. Really a small kindness,help offered to others feels so satisfied. thanks once again
Name: a persad
City:   trinidad
Comments:   kool article
Name: eunice lyle
City:   philippines
Comments:   BRAVO!!!!very INSPIRING!!!
Name: Anushiya
City:   chennai
Comments:   Great! I think from now on i will also try to help other and be kind to every one.
City:   Delhi
Comments:   Very inspiring. Thanks Indiaparenting
Name: sonia
City:   muscat,oman
Comments:   thoughtprovoking.
Name: jyoti
City:   mumbai
Comments:   very thoughtprovoking and inspiring.Thanks for providing such beautiful thoughts to the society. I think each one of us should learn to help and be kind to the people in need by reading such article.
Name: Pyal
City:   N.A
Comments:   Wow, this is so nice! i really enjoyed reading this article! I certainly hope people will soon start to demonstrate such beautiful acts of kindness, which you have shared with us, in your article. Once again, it's really good!!!!!!!!
Name: Boatemaa
City:   Accra
Comments:   I totally agree with you. This is really an eye opener and if most people will practice it, the world will be a very nice place.
Name: kakarot
City:   New York
Comments:   nice article andy from long island is pretty funny

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