Friendly faces in unknown places

“One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” – Edith Wharton

How true is that! Traveling in unknown places can be fairly overwhelming, especially if you are by yourself: fumbling through new currency, languages and accents; figuring transport systems, ways of working, new surroundings; breaking into local cliques and making new friends. But it is all so worth it, not only for the kick you get for exploring something unfamiliar but also when you find people reaching out to help or smile at you when you least expect it. Just like that!

I remember getting ‘almost’ mugged at the Rome train station. I was looking at the train arrival info when this good looking bloke came up to me, showed me a scribbled bit of paper and asked if I knew this place. Just as I’d begun to glance at the paper, another fella moved swiftly past me and I felt a sudden jolt on my shoulders. Lo! the second guy had snatched my hand bag and was running away with it. Just then, this unknown man who had been reading his book quietly all this while, moved fast, ran up to the fleeing fella, blocked his way and grabbed my bag. The fleeing fella dropped my bag and disappeared in the crowd. The quite savior came back, handed my bag over to me and as I was mumbling my gratitude, he simply nodded, apologized on others’ behalf and then quietly walked away…

Another time after a long work trip, lugging very big suitcases, I got to Linköping, Sweden where a conference had been relocated. So there I was in the basement platform of the train station looking up a humongous steep flights of stairs with no elevator or escalator in sight. I helplessly spent quite some time in futile attempts to drag my bags up the stairs. Then just out of the blue, a big man towered over me! He muttered something in an urgent tone, grabbed my bags and started climbing with a quick step. I thought I was getting mugged again and went hurrying and shouting after him. As I reached the ground level, panting and huffing, there were my bags securely arrayed in a neat row. There was no one around whom I could thank.

“Travel has a way of stretching the mind. The stretch comes not from travel’s immediate rewards, the inevitable myriad new sights, smells and sounds, but with experiencing firsthand how others do differently what we believed to be the right and only way.”

Over the time I have learnt to keep my bags light and hang on to them tightly when I travel :-). But I’ve also learnt to look out for that friendly glint in peoples’ eyes that says you’re welcome. It was a real pleasure meeting you!!

See more people and the things they do every day in The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge: Everyday Life.

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22 thoughts on “Friendly faces in unknown places

  1. Loved this one, the pix and the sentiment. It’s so true. I went to Italy by myself once and people can be very kind. That gondola brought back bad memories though, still can’t look at that, too soon! What sort of work do you do that allows you to travel as you do?

    1. Thanks a lot, Dana. Traveling experiences are always a mixed bag..good and bad (sometimes ugly too). But kindness by complete strangers never fails to surprise me… maybe I assume people wouldn’t want to help but they so often do! I work for a software company and travel for development and delivery requirements..of course I make good use of every opportunity that I can get to explore just a little more :-)

  2. Wonderful photos. Love the B&W. That was quite a story about you almost getting mugged (although you actually were mugged b/c the thief took your purse), but what a fairytale ending. It’s nice to know there are gentlemen like that still around. I was “sort of” mugged in the Sacre Coeur metro station in Paris. But perhaps it was my fault for carrying a big, floppy, flowered bag.

    1. Thanks a lot, Jennifer. Never a dull day when you’re traveling. There are so many experiences, both good and bad, but all nevertheless very memorable :-) I hope you did not lose anything valuable in that ‘inviting’ bag!

      1. So true. All those experiences enter into the trip collective, and often it’s the wayward (I hate to call them bad) ones that are the most interesting to share. For my part, it was a tactic I had not heard about. Two men sandwiched me in the metro exit gate, hoping I would let go of the bag (which had my camera in it). Although it was mighty uncomfortable to have those two bodies pressed against me like that, I tucked like a possum and held on tight. They gave up. Now I carry a black PacSafe bag, and there have been no more incidents.

      2. LOL! I like your use of ‘wayward’ :-) omg that’s an ugly ‘tactic’. Kudos to you for surviving that and holding on. I hope you and your PacSafe get to see more of this wonderful world without any wayward incidences. Good luck and take care!

  3. Got to this post by weekly photo challenge. It seems your everyday life of travelling is very nice. I envy you. The pictures is timeless with b/w. Nice job. Maybe I love the first with the boat the most.

    Oh yeah, my share is about Indonesian cloth Batik. Hope you have a time to read it.

    1. Thanks a lot Albadr. I’m so glad you stopped by. I loved your post on the Batik printing, both the photos and text are great. I truly admire the craftsmanship that goes into making such beautiful designs on cloth. Thanks for sharing this information.

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