Sunday, October 02, 2011

Kindness of Strangers

The Kindness of Strangers lifted from The National Geographic Traveler Magazine March 2004

The Kindness of Strangers is a compilation of true stories of on-the-road friendliness. Here's a word from the author, Don George:

Why stories about people being nice? Kindness is easier to see when you are removed from your everyday context. Travel forces us to rely more on others, and the truth we learn is that our planet is a friendly place. People want to be good to one another - regardless of their background, religion, or culture.
Which stories are your favorites? Naturally, I think they're all good. Jan Morris writes about being rescued from a muddy pothole in St. Petersburg. Pico Iyer befriends a philosophical trishaw driver in Mandalay. Simon Winchester enters a "state of grace" thanks to a spirited vicar on remote Ascensin Island.
Are some places kinder than others? Destinations are not kind to strangers; people are. Some cultures may cultivate warmer interaction, but kindness itself transcends place and culture.
Where have you experienced this? Locals have gone out of their way to help me in each of the 70-plus countries I've been to. A Greek family included my family in their Easter celebration; a Japanese trucker detoured and hour to drive me to a tiny village; a young boy in Cairo led me by the hand from a sinister neighborhood; a Kenyan craftsman gave me a carving he just made. I now find myself going out of my way to help people, in gratitude for the kindness that's been extended to me.
What is the lesson of your book? "We're all interconnected on life's journey, and kindness is ours to withhold or bestow. If we live everyday with kindness, we create a more graceful world."

National Geographic George W. Stone
Don George is a legendary travel writer and editor who has won numerous awards for his work. He has been travel editor at the San Francisco Examiner & Chronicle, founded and edited the Wanderlust section of, and most recently was Global Travel Editor at Lonely Planet Publications. He is the author of The Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing and the editor of six literary travel anthologies, including The Kindness of Strangers, Tales from Nowhere, and By the Seat of My Pants. E-mail Don at

Instances of Kindness of Strangers:
1. Asking for directions
2. Use of toilet
3. Request for a drink
4. Giving a free ride

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