I was on my was from Beijing to Islamabad, and as luck would have it my airplane was late by a good four hours. Four hours at Beijing International Airport! Well the airline I had chosen didn’t have much to offer in return except a few bottles of chilled Pepsi (In December!!!), some paper glasses and a skimpy note saying, “Drinks on the house, PIA”. Damn! I knew they were serious 🙂
So after a drink I went to explore the airport and various shops. One casual round up and I was tired and hungry. Off I went in search of Halal food. But there was none to be found. Using the best of sign language I talked a Chinese shop owner in to selling me baked fish and Pepsi, off course. The logical outcome of this fiesta was a trip to the restrooms. Lo and behold, it was winters and there ensued a long line of tourists who were waiting to empty their bladders.
It was while standing in the queue that I saw the little man, the janitor, he would run to the restroom as soon as it was vacated by a tourist, clean it up in a jiffy and then proceed to clean the next one. I was pretty impressed with his performance. When my turn came, he did the same thing. After I has washed my hands, I reached for my pocket instinctively and handed him a 10 RMB bill. The man looked at me in amazement, then at the bill in his hand and then again at me. I knew and he knew that we couldn’t talk for our languages were not common. But then he made a thumbs up sign to me with a broad smile on his face. WOW! I had just made his day. I felt happy beyond words and just smiled back at him. And then again as I was leaving the rest room he gave me another thumbs up, but this time the mist in his eyes was evident.
I am sure he went to his house “a happy man”, maybe he bought his son or daughter a gift on the way. Or maybe something for his wife. But this random act of kindness made me so happy because it was beyond religion, beyond language, beyond culture and nationality. It simply transcended everything, it was just basic connection on a human level.