The Uptown Hostel

Linda's ColumnKindness in the jungle?

Many people have a morning ritual that includes coffee with toast and a morning paper. As does mine. I am selective in what sections I read though and often the back of a cornflakes box is more appealing. Well, at least it does not stop me from going on friend-hopping holidays in exciting London. Waiting in a pub at oxford circus I read a newspaper article that heads “London lawyer picked out because he was smart” Thinking to read a success story I come to understand this lawyer has been mugged (and what ever else) because he looked well-off. I sigh thinking “Antarctica is said to be quite safe still” and decide to have cereal for lunch tomorrow. However, it doesn’t stop me from questioning if we are all mad to leave our secure homes to explore that jungle out there? I shake this worrying thought and decide to focus on my well-earned holiday. It is remarkable how my friends are able to show me new and fun places in London’s districts every time I’m here. Time flies by and before I know it, it is time to go home to Amsterdam. At customs the check-up ritual takes me back to the last time I was here. 2 years ago I stood at this same spot but with sweaty palms, a red face and a guilty look.

That day I had tried to catch a flight earlier but cheap obviously doesn’t equal flexible. Thus I had to kill 10 hours in the airport pub with only 4 pounds to my name. After an hour or so I got into conversation with the older man at the next table. He had missed his flight and had to wait an equal time to go back to Ireland. We exchanged our travel and life stories, watched over each others bags when one went to the toilet, he bought me a drink and we shared the nachos. In short, 10 hours turned out to be a lot less time then we thought. He mentioned the sushi behind customs was great and I agreed to have dinner with him. We parted to check in and that’s when I got suspicious. Lin, there has to be a catch! I could already picture myself in horrible female British prisons while I searched my bag in the check in line. I had felt so guilty when I later met the Irishman at the Sushi-bar. It turned out that many strangers helped him out when he was a young hitchhiker. He considered this dinner as his chance to pass on that kindness. “Besides”, he had said “you are good company”. We had a brilliant meal, said goodbye and both ran to catch our flights. Suddenly I realize that this stranger and many others with him had already handed me the answers I was searching for: London papers might only increase my knowledge on foreign cereal ingredients but it is this kind of real life consideration that keeps that jungle’s grass green. I spot the sushi bar and out of nostalgia I pick up the menu. One glance at their prices tells me my time to pass on his kindness has definitely not yet arrived. One thing is clear to me though, who ever stated that one person can not make a difference in the world obviously never travelled on his own..