#49 an Australian man

D and I were taking a suburban train in Melbourne. The train was rather quiet except for a middle-aged Chinese lady who was talking loudly on her phone. As she spoke in Chinese, we could understand what she was saying. She was asking the person on the phone for directions to a particular place. She seemed rather unsure about how to get there. She stood in front of the train map and clarified with the person on the phone as to which stop she should get off.

All of a sudden, an Australian man, who was rather old, stood up and tapped on her shoulder. We thought he would ask her to shut up or to, at least, speak more softly. Instead, he spoke to her slowly in English, “If you want to get to this place, you need to get off at the next stop and change trains.”

She thanked him and moments later when our train arrived at the next station, he went towards her and reminded her, “You need to change to the other train here.”

On a different occasion, D and I were in the city centre of Melbourne and we were trying to get to Flinders Street from Chinatown. We studied the tram map at the tram stop and tried to figure out which tram(s) we could take. All of a sudden, a young lady came up to us and asked us, “Where are you headed?” We told her where we wanted to go and she informed us that we could take any tram to get there from here. When a tram came, she came to us again and told us that we could take this tram.

Singaporeans are rather passive people who tend to mind their own business. It is rare to see people taking the initiative to help others. Maybe it has something to do with the fear of rejection by a stranger. Maybe it has something to do with being too engrossed in our own lives. To me, kindness has to be manifested in order for it to be considered as kindness. Kindness is not something you think about; kindness is something that you do. When the opportunity presents itself, will you risk your ego and be kind or will you hold back and pretend that you are not there?

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