Sunday, March 8, 2015

SΩ6 - Global Kindness: Cultural Tales II

This post includes two combined concepts. From my last post, I wanted to give examples of how to ‘nudge’ and support other people’s dreams. Also, many people liked my previous “Cultural Tales”, so figured I’d use that style.

Small gestures of kindness can be quite valuable and take a mere few minutes of effort. Every month we are awake for over 30,000 minutes. How about using a few for a gesture of kindness?

Good Samaritan of Lost Valuables
In my previous post I gave a short preview of Tokyo, Japan. Let’s start from there. There are plenty of good things to say about Japan, for now I’ll focus on Japanese culture. I believe Japanese tend to be honest and courteous people. I’d like to share one event, which I hope will convince you as well!

My first trip to Japan I visited Tokyo, Kyoto, and Nara. Now I can’t imagine traveling between these cities, without the Internet. The public transport system is effective, yet can be rather intricate and overwhelming. During a subway transfer in Kyoto, I just had enough time to buy a drink from a vending machine. After a few stops I realized my luggage was rather light. I had my backpack, but had left my other bag at the vending machine! When I returned to the previous stop, my bag was gone; the subway employees were unable to find it. Later, a Japanese friend called various stops and offices to find it. It soon became apparent; my bag was lost for good!

With only a few days left in Japan, I did my best to forget my loss and bought some replacement clothes. 
A few weeks later, I received a mysterious package with foreign writing. To my surprise, it was my bag! Everything was there and my clothes were clean and neatly folded. Seems my bag ended up at the local police station and my Japanese friend had successfully tracked it down. His wife even went the extra mile to clean the clothes and pack the bag nicely. I can only imagine all the effort my friend and his wife invested to return my bag. Alternatively, if you ever find a wallet, phone, or other valuable, it’ll likely take less than an hour to return it. Be a Good Samaritan and return it!
Befriend a Traveler
Usually, I travel solo. This lets me plan my trip the way I like and encourages me to meet new people. I tend to meet fellow travelers in hostels and spend a day or two together. What’s even more exciting, is meeting locals! Yet that’s rare, since travelers are mainly viewed as business opportunities.

My experience in Istanbul, Turkey was extraordinary. The first day, a local teenage boy approached me on the beach. First, I was skeptical…maybe he wanted to scam me!? Yet what started as skepticism ended in a pleasant walk through the city as the boy explained the history and buildings to me. Even to this day, we still stay in touch.

A day later the excitement continued! I was visiting an Island close to Istanbul. On the ferry ride there, I sat across from two teenage couples. Suddenly, one of the girls smiled at me and offered me a piece of fresh pretzel. As we got to the Island they invited me on a bike tour of the Island and lunch! I’ve probably told this experience 100 times, since it’s rare that travelers are shown such kindness. Make travelers feel welcome in your city.
Encourage a Friend
Have you ever hit rock bottom? This is how I felt, when I returned to Switzerland. Reality had knocked me down and I was a stranger to myself. While I sorted through the pieces of my identity, my only comfort was escaping reality to travel the world. Traveling introduced me to many amazing places and I asked myself, why was I in Switzerland?

Eventually, a mentor of mine encouraged me to move to Barcelona. This push has definitely helped me turn my life around. Before, leaving Switzerland, I had lunch with a dear friend. We had a lengthy discussion about the world and plenty more. Towards the end of lunch he said: “You should write a blog”. This was the 'nudge' I needed to get my blog rolling. Life is full of uncertainties and difficult choices, so encourage your friends towards greatness. 

Key Message
There are plenty of ways to support and help others, here are just three examples: 
“Be a Good Samaritan and return it!”
“Make travelers feel welcome in your city.”
 “Encourage your friends towards greatness.”

All pictures  © Mario Christiner 2011, except picture of Simit (Turkish Pretzil) from


  1. On your steps towards greatness I see? :) It amazes me how you keep such a positive attitude, no matter what is going on in your life! I look up to that.

  2. Really liked the message of this entry. But also loved the stories of your travels. Would love to hear more. When you write them down and look back, it really makes you see how the right people are put in your path at the perfect time.

  3. BTW, I guess that was inadvertently a vote for a people/travel topic! 😜