Friday, April 17, 2009

Danke Schön!

Germans seem to be rather generous. So much that I doubt I would get the same sort of generosity in India. There was I, in the Subway in town, asking for the whereabouts of a payphone after a meal. The shop attendant asked me if I wanted to call India - I guess I look as Indian as anybody could - and then offered me his cell phone for me to take a call. I was a bit surprised and turned down his offer, which left him rather flabbergasted. It's not a tiny amount, 2 Euros, for a call to India, and the readiness to help, even when it cost him felt really good.
A similar incident happened in the loo in Mannheim station, where I was switching trains on my way to Paris for the Easter weekend. It was a paid loo, and half a Euro did not seem like too high a price to relieve myself in the state I was in, so I decided to use it. Now the machine accepted only coins of 50, 20 and 10 cents, and I had one 20, 2 tens and a whole lot of small change smaller than 10. The fella I had asked for help to use the machine saw that I was short of a 10 Euro coin, and promptly handed me one, and started walking off after giving me a hearty smile. He seemed rather surprised to see me run after him and hand over a 5 cent coin, and then again after a few moments, another 5 cent one.
I don't know, but I can't seem to come to terms with this. It's a great feeling to find people ready to help somebody who doesn't come from their land, doesn't look anything like them, and doesn't even speak their language.

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