The Kindness of Strangers
I’m sitting here, looking through the photos of the last few days, and I find myself completely overwhelmed with gratitude. The kindness that has been shown to me by people who were complete strangers is just incredible. And I say “were” very deliberately, as I now consider them friends with whom I share lifelong memories.
You see, a few months ago, I met Aya in my dorm room in Myanmar. She was from Japan and was such a sweet soul. We spent a couple of days together in Yangon, exploring the city and getting to know each other. When it was time to say goodbye, she told me that she had contacted a friend of hers from Tokyo, and that he would show me around when I went to Tokyo in April. I was so touched by her thoughtfulness.
Fast-forward a few months to April and I am now in Japan. Aya’s friend, Shigeyuki, organised to meet with me and some friends I have been travelling with over a few separate evenings. He brought some friends of his own too.
The first evening, he organised a special dinner at a restaurant in Iidabashi with a friend of his, Atsuko, my travel-buddy Amy, and I. Shigeyuki had contacted the chef to request “Zuke Maguro” (marinated tuna) because Aya had told him that it was my nickname (and I love it). It was a huge feast, utterly delicious, and we had a great night chatting.
A couple of days later it was my birthday. Shigeyuki organised to meet me and my friend Charlotte in the afternoon, along with one of his friends Toshihiko. We went to the skytree tower in Asakusa and saw Tokyo from the sky. I was given a birthday badge that meant every staff member wished me happy birthday. 🙂
After skytree, Atsuko and her friend Yumi met us, and the six of us walked and talked along the Sumida river until we reached the Sensō-ji temple in Asakusa. All of us were instant friends and laughed and chatted as we walked.
When we were hungry, we went to a famous dumpling restaurant that Shigeyuki had researched. We feasted on delicious food, trying just about everything on the menu. Of course, it was no coincidence that we had dumplings… Shigeyuki had seen my blog and knew it was my favourite.
Shigeyuki, Atsuko, Toshihiko and Yumi then presented me with beautiful, thoughtful gifts and a gorgeous card for my birthday. I was stunned and overwhelmed. These beautiful people went to so much effort and put in so much thought. I just couldn’t believe it. They even bought my friend Charlotte, whom they had never met before, a gift to remind her of the evening. The generosity of these four gorgeous people is simple incredible.
And as the night evolved, and we moved onto karaoke, I felt like I was in the company of friends whom I’d known my whole life. It’s hard to explain. But after only a short time together, I know that I will remember this evening for a lifetime.
I cannot explain the emotions that I feel when I think about how lucky I am to have met Charlotte, Shigeyuki, Atsuko, Yumi and Toshihiko. I wonder if the situation was reversed, whether I would have been so kind. It’s amazing how much impact the kindness of strangers can have, and how quickly strangers can turn to friends.