Remember a time when you couldn’t keep track of the number of bruises on your knees and the number of bandaids? Ah childhood! Well, this trip to Turkey has been a return to childhood of sorts for me. Bruises on the knee from a couple of falls, a twisted ankle, a few bandaids on my fingers after trying to use a locally bought peeler, a bout of cold — to name just a few.
And while that might sound quite terrible, it hasn’t been, thanks to all the kindness around me. Be it the museum security guard who came running to check on me on my first fall, be it Shantanu who enquired a dozen times if my ankle was ok, or Travis and Amitoj — my team mates who said I just needed to tell them what I needed to feel better and they’d go get it, or Patty who found out I was unwell and checked on me the next day. I have felt very touched by all the care and concern these folks that I met barely 2 weeks ago have shown.
And then there’s Joe who speaks Turkish and is always extremely kind and patient enough to ask detailed questions about ingredients to make sure the dish is vegan, Samira, the Flying Broom resident cook who takes great care to make almost excluvely vegan dishes ever since we started there, Mirabel who always announces vegan items so the two vegans in the group — Amitoj and I know we can have them, Sohini who makes sure that the restaurant has options for the vegans and vegetarians in the group. And the laundromat man who reopened the shutters of his shop though it was past open time and he was almost ready to take off in his car.
I saved the best for the last — Rachel, who’s probably the youngest in the group is such a joy to be around — she’s always inclusive and brings people into the conversation with her cheerful nature and eye contact.
Though all of us are from very different backgrounds with unique personalities, there is this undercurrent of kindness in each and everyone that shines through beautifully. Makes me think what a wonderful world this could be, if everyone could see and focus on that kindness in each other rather than their differences. Just like back when you had no doubts that the world was a beautiful kind place as a child, so much so that the bruises and bandaids didn’t stop you from tearing down the next hill, or giggling for no reason, or greeting friends and strangers with open arms and innocent curiosity,….
All of that to say — I feel lucky to be here right now, as a member of the 2015 Symantec Service Corps team in Turkey, and value the simple humanity that I encounter each day more so than anything else.
Very aptly, we are “Team ilerleme” — a Turkish word that means “Progress”. As Henry Ford said, “ Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”.