Discovering Kindness in the Backstreets of India with Raam Dev

Hello Lovelies, I hope this Monday is treating you extra nice. The sun is out here this morning & I couldn’t be more pleased to see its shining face! Today, I am excited to share that Raam Dev is joining our Kind Kindred circle to share this beautiful story about how he found Kindness in the backstreets of India when he least expected it. If you don’t know Raam, I encourage you to take a stroll over to his About Page, his story is absolutely incredible, I know you will be as intrigued as I was the first time I read it. Thank you so much Raam, for sharing your story with all of us, I am wishing you love & all the best on your journey & objective of building a Community of Passionate Changemakers – I’m on your side. Enjoy, xoxo, Amanda

Discovering Kindness in the Backstreets of India

As an American tourist in a developing country it was difficult to feel treated as an equal. Every stranger who approached me seemed interested in one thing and one thing only: Money.

This was my first time outside the United States and I was traveling alone in India, slowly making my way from Bangalore in the south up through Goa and Bombay further north.

After spending two months dismissing street vendors and ignoring taxi drivers, the loneliness began creeping in. Where were all the people with a desire for real human connection? Where was all the curiosity and kindness?

When I stepped off the train in Udaipur (a small city in Rajasthan, between Bombay and New Delhi), I decided that I was going to do something to find that human connection and, after checking into my hotel, I ventured outside to explore.

All the main streets were overflowing with vendors hawking their wares and catering to tourists. Every single one seemed to assume that anyone who looked out of place was interested in spending money and filling their bags with souvenirs.

I was traveling with a small backpack and a monthly budget of $200, so I could neither afford to buy nor fit anything into my bag. But of course they didn’t know that. They were just doing their job and trying to feed their family.

Out of frustration, I stepped off the main street into a very narrow alley. I had no idea where it led, but I was getting desperate for an authentic connection and I was ready to look anywhere.

I walked through a maze that wasn’t even on the map and emerged on street that was clearly not frequented by tourists. “Finally,” I thought, “a place where I can walk around in peace”.

Before I could finish that thought, I heard someone yell out to me. My well-developed street hawker guard went up and I ignored the voice, keeping my eyes looking forward and pretending that I didn’t hear anything.

He called out again. This time I looked in his direction. Something felt different. I didn’t feel intimidated or pressured. When he waved me over, his gesture felt sincere.

That was enough to get me to stop and hear him out.

The store behind him was filled with fabrics of varying colors. A sewing machine sat just inside the door. A young tailor in his mid-20s, he spoke in broken English with a soft, leisurely voice. His smile came and went as he spoke, not permanently glued to his face like a stranger trying to sell me something.

We started chatting and within a few minutes I found myself sitting on the stairs to his shop exchanging stories of my travels and listening to him tell stories from his childhood. Between topics we would both stop and quietly look around, sharing silence, watching people walk by, and soaking in the moment.

An hour passed and a few of his friends arrived. They all invited me inside to join them for an afternoon cup of tea. Sitting on small wooden crates, we chatted, exchanged smiles, and laughed. I knew none of these people and none of them knew me, yet this felt like family.

After a few hours I returned to the hotel, dazed and in awe with what had just happened.

I walked by that shop an absolute stranger, suspicious and on edge, feeling overwhelmed and alone in a foreign country and in an unfamiliar city. But all of that changed in the span of a few hours through the kindness of one individual.

That one person reached out to me not as a tourist, not as an American, and not even a male. He reached out to me as a human being, satisfied to simply share the company of another soul, exchanging smiles, stories, and a piece of the short time we both have on this planet Earth.

That day his kindness changed everything. I began viewing travel from a different perspective, more aware of my own stubbornness and wrongly-placed assumptions about the world and the people around me.

When we stop being self-centered and stubborn, kindness flows naturally. When we open our hearts and give of ourselves freely from a place of compassion, curiosity, and with an awareness that we are all connected, kindness will envelope the moment and flow into our lives.

Living with absolute sincerity and reaching out to others with no ulterior motive or expectation of receiving something in return is the only way we can experience real fulfillment. Every time we breathe, we’re given a golden opportunity to change the next moment, to embrace those around us and see them as equals, and to exhale into the world an expression of love, compassion, and kindness.

Raam Dev is a writer, social entrepreneur, and digital nomad. He writes about sustainable abundance and practical minimalism on raamdev.com. You can join his Community of Passionate Changemakers and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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