The Kindness of a Stranger – The Hindu


I embarked on a solo trip from Frankfurt to create an ambitious memory of hiking in Europe only. I had visited places with my husband before and then sent him to India to pack his bags with some of my luggage.

With my Eurail Pass in hand, I left for Interlaken. It was around 7 p.m., I went downstairs and bought myself a frozen pizza from Coop at the station. I was surprised to find the roads empty, not a soul in sight. I waited at a bus stop to take a bus to my hostel. Hours passed and I saw a bus and got on board. After the bus took off I asked if I could pay by card as I only had a 100 euro ticket. The bus driver did not accept cards and gave change only in Swiss francs. I did not see the choice. I opened my purse to find it empty. I knew very clearly that I had 100 euros. I frantically opened my backpack and began to search it. And then it hit me, that single note was very carefully slipped into a jeans pocket that I sent with my husband. He was probably flying over the Middle East now.

Never the type who could hide my emotions, I started to panic. The driver said there was an ATM at the next stop. I asked him if he would wait for me, he couldn’t. When is the next bus? There probably wasn’t.

I was on the verge of tears, ready to descend and enter a dark night in an unknown city whose language I did not speak. Let me tell you something about myself. Being brave is not my strongest. The driver looked at me with pity and said, “Okay, I’m letting you down anyway.” I returned to my seat, the ignominy of having no money, of being pitied, of receiving charity and then a looming thought of how I would represent my country. What would they think of brown Asians? “

I don’t know what the driver and the rest of the passengers thought of me with no money, but they definitely saw the complete breakdown of a brunette girl. And then he told me where to get off, I did and purposely walked in the opposite direction to my hostel. The driver honked his horn and helped me again.

I am very conscious of representing India in the right way whenever I am abroad. I’m counting my pennies, but I’m not someone for cheap gifts. The hostel gave a free pass to take any bus as long as I stayed there. The next day I scanned some buses for the driver. Here is another something about me. I don’t really remember the faces. So I did the only thing I could do, maybe stupid, maybe not so generous. I bought a ticket when I had a pass. I didn’t want to owe the Swiss government anything.

I really owe the bus driver. He renewed my faith in humanity with his little act of kindness.

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