the gift of kindness

I watched the movie “Hangover 2″ twice.

I do not usually do this – watch much-anticipated/popular movies twice within days of each other, regardless of how good it is, and nor do I care about the hype surrounding it (and unless I’ve slept through a movie the first time.. in which case, maaaaybe I shouldn’t even do a second attempt 

But when the movie was released here, I had friends who couldn’t wait to watch it with me… and at the same time, I had just started dating someone who also wanted to watch it with me. I *could’ve* introduced my friends to my new boyfriend so we could have all watched it together, but the fact is, the latter was out of the country around that time so this wouldn’t have been possible. And my friends were impatient and didn’t want to wait.

So I watched the movie the first time with my friends.. and a few days later with my then-boyfriend after he was back in the country.

I laughed at all the right cues, I didn’t give away any jokes, I pretended to be surprised at the storyline, I sat with him for 2 hours and watched him laugh hard. I never told my friends this, and I never told him this either.

Considering I hardly knew him then, I don’t know why I did it…. but I do remember thinking two things: 1)  it’s just 2 hours and 2) it’s 2 hours time well-spent with someone you care about. Done deal, that was enough.

I didn’t tell this to anyone because it’s not like I was expecting a girlfriend-of-the-year award, and I’ve also learnt that when you do nice things for people, you should expect nothing in return because not everyone remembers, and not everyone knows what to do about it. Unexpected kindness is nowadays looked upon almost as tragic.. as in, is there something wrong with you that you’re doing this? Well, maybe there is.. I do it because I want to,  not to score brownie points.

It is really easy to do things for people you know, for people you care about. Not so easy to do the same for strangers… at least that is the case  if you’re not gunning for sainthood.

Personally speaking, the odds of that change if you’re in a third-world country, where people have , comparatively, nothing. They go out of their way to be kind to you, because that is all they know, in the name of hospitality. When you have nothing and all you have is yourself, all you can do is give yourself.

I was missing that in my life lately. I violated my own private code of expect nothing. I got greedy.  Somehow it became all about me. What about me? I eventually got sick of it. It wasn’t happening. I wanted it to be about everyone else but me. So I read Paulo Coelho. I read Covey. I read Tuesdays with Morrie. I read the Dalai Lama. I couldn’t read The Secret though, that was rubbish. I missed that warmth that kindness provides.

And so I went home, to find kindness, in one of the poorest countries in the world – Bangladesh.

And then I felt like giving myself a few 100 lashings – if an 8 year-old-boy working like a 30 year-old-man in scorching heat building housing materials could still smile at me while he was talking to me (not pictured), then what the hell was I complaining about?