Thursday, September 10, 2009

Kindness is still here

By Petra Gimbad

I've been taking the bus from Brickfields to make my way home. For those not in the know, it's a predominantly Indian area located in Kuala Lumpur. I love it for its vegetarian food, temples, courageous Catholic priests and old buildings and trees.

It's also a haven for this budding photographer. My photography skills are seriously of shit quality. Snap anything in Brickfields, however, and you're bound to take something good. The last two days I've been zooming in on this wizened Chinese man (a contrast against the district's mainly Indian population) who rummages through garbage for aluminium cans and bottles to sell for income.

Yesterday he was alone. Today he had a friend, which may explain why he carried twice as much, in plastic bags.

Tonight I took the bus home and was touched by four acts of kindness.

The first: a blind man was helped onto the bus by a woman whom I initially took to be his niece. I realised she wasn't when he sat alone.

The second: I sat beside the man and asked where he was going so that I could press the bell when it came to his destination. The woman beside me, smiling, said not to worry - they were getting off at the same stop.

The blind man was Chinese. The woman who looked after him was Malay.

The third: an old woman - you know the kind, skinny and really elderly - she dropped her bags. She tried to pick them up as the bus swung and almost rammed into the door. A young girl grabbed her so she didn't fall.

The woman was Chinese. The young girl was Malay or one of the illegal immigrants you see around - I suspect Myanmarese or Indonesian.

The fourth: the bus stopped at a location I didn't recognise. It was not a bus stop and I wondered why. Then I realised: it was smack in front of a flight of stairs leading down to an impoverished group of flats. The bus driver, bless him, stopped where it was secure for its residents to climb down and make their way home.

I was touched. This has been a good night, and to be able to see these things, I feel truly blessed.

PS: It struck for a moment that had I stayed to do law, I may have never taken the bus. I would be in New Zealand or I'll be taking taxis or driving. Now that I have the time and my pocket money is rather limited, the 45 minute wait for the bus it is.

But as you can see, it is so, so, so, much well worth the wait. xx

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