Wednesday, April 7, 2021

F is for Free Cola and Friends #AtoZChallenge

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the second week of the #Blogging from A to Z  April Challenge 2021. My theme this year is based on the Japanese concept of Ichigo Ichie which means--"What we are experiencing right now will never happen again. And therefore, we must value each moment like a beautiful treasure."

I've put together a collage of such moments which can be seen as chance occurrences, coincidences, pre-destined or random (depending on who you ask) for this month's challenge.

Thank you.



They might not need me; but they might.
I'll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.

Emily Dickinson

For today's post, let me take you back to a moment in time in December of 1994.

The husband and I were on our honeymoon in Cyprus. I wrote about it on 'C' Day. You may recall, if you read the C post, that the husband was enamoured by his rental Subaru. 

The sun was shining and the sky was blue. We were driving up north to Nicosia from Larnaca. It would be a long, long drive in the rental Subaru. The husband was happy. 

Sometime in the afternoon, while still on the motorway, we felt the need to eat. So, we stopped when we spotted a food truck.

We knew no Greek and English had been enough to communicate with the locals in the cities we'd visited so far.

We looked at the menu and decided to order a doner kabab to share.  We had discovered the doner on our first evening in Larnaca while strolling down the seaside. We were so impressed with its amazing taste and satiety value that for the rest of our stay in Cyprus we ate one everyday. It was 1994. It was also the first time we'd tasted a doner kebab. And the fact that it cost only 1 Cypriot pound helped, too. We were on a budget. 

The lady in the food truck window smiled and asked me something in Greek. I smiled back, extended some money and asked for a kebab and a bottle of water.

"" she said chirpily and pointed towards my hennaed hands. 

I replied, "Yes, we got married last week."

"Ninos?" she asked, sticking her head and arms out of the window and gesticulating to suggest babies.

"No! No! Not yet."

We paid for the doner and were figuring out whether to sit at the table or stand and eat when we heard her behind us. She was holding two cans of cola and extending them to us she said, "This is for you from me. Congratulations!" 

We were both left speechless by her kindness.

All we had heard from family and friends when they found out that we were going all the way to Cyprus was to be careful, be alert, don't trust easily, etc. etc.--the usual advice but no one had prepared us for this unexpected act of kindness by a stranger managing a food truck on a motorway linking north to south.
I had to get a photo taken with her.

I wish I'd asked her her name. Maybe I did. But I can't recall it now.

She told us that her daughter had been to the UK to study and had made friends with an Indian girl who told her about the henna and the choorra (red and white bangles I was wearing) were signs of new brides.

Kindness can make friends out of strangers in just a moment. But, the memories of such moments can be treasured forever.

Unless you're headed to the Himalayas for sanayaas (renunciation of the world) or are a monk, good friends are essential to live a healthy and happy life. 

Especially, during tough, unpredictable, wobbly times such as these, we all need a kind word, a helpful hand, a smile, a nod, an open heart that is ready to listen without judgement or advice. 

Friendships are like seeds that sprout underground, sending their roots to hold the soil intact within their folds and shoots to peep above ground and be visible as smiles and hugs. These friendship roots provide stability in unstable times. Communities don't grow out of thin air. They need to be be nurtured with attention, time and love--one moment at a time. There has always been a need for kindness in this world of ours. How blessed are those who receive it and those who pay it forward.

And for those who asked for photos of the Subaru, after reading C is for a Cypriot honeymoon, here are two:
Caption: His beloved Subaru with wife

Do you have a story about kindness of strangers you'd like to share? You know, I'd love to hear. 

Last year, I'd shared My First Kiss for the sake of this challenge--in case you're curious:)

This year, I'm participating in #BlogchatterA2Z  powered by 


  1. I've never been to Cyprus but always fancied it.
    Good luck with the rest of the challenge.

  2. This is so sweet! An unexpected gesture is powerful enough to stay with us for a long, long time.

    P.S: You look super cute in the pics. :)

  3. That seems like an interesting destination for is such small anecdotes that make our journeys interesting ...may be u should travel again and see if she is still there and take another picture with her ??

    1. We've visited Cyprus a few times after the honeymoon but never tried to find the lady--wonder why! But, I have come across some other lovely souls who've left a mark too:)

  4. What a lovely memory. I also went to Cyprus for a honeymoon! My abiding memory is of us having a snowball fight high up on Troodos Mountain!

    1. Nice!
      We visited the Troodos a few years ago. There's a quaint village called Omodos where we stayed and the wine there was 'deadly'! If you get my drift:)

  5. Hari Om
    Life is littered with such moments - and isn't it interesting that they are sufficiently sparse they remain in memory for so long?! I have experienced such small kindesses many times - but just last week I met it online; purchasing two small art pieces, the artist discovered I am on a pension only for income - and offered such a generous discount as to be surely detrimental to herself! There was not obligation and no forewarning. The thoughfulness struck me deeply. (I accepted, but made a counter offer of what I felt was appropriate and we agreed.) YAM xx

    1. Thank you for sharing this act of kindness Yamini.
      It warms my heart no end.
      I reckon your birthday must be around the corner, as you'd mentioned you're April born in one of your posts.
      What a fab birthday present to get--one that'll nourish your eyes and your soul for you'll be reminded of the artist's generosity every time you'll look at it.
      Hope to see pictures of the art soon:)

  6. What a wonderful story... friendships can certainly be made with a simple smile. I wrote about a friend in the 2016 Challenge. the friendship poem you have shared is lovely and there is nothing better than a smile and a free cola. Cheers,

  7. What a heartwarming encounter! Thank you for sharing.
    I recently met a 93-year-old man who had parked his scooter next to my regular car at the grocery store. The conversation stuck to me. He told me he missed being allowed to drive.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Tamara. Yes, chance encounters can sometimes turn into fond memories.

  8. Such a wonderful memory. I love how those delights get seared into our brains - I imagine them filed in a special colorful sparkly cabinet where all good treasures go. You have such a beautiful perspective of friendships, and given how much you've traveled, I know you've struck them up all over the place. There is truly so much kindness in the world and it's so wonderful to celebrate it.

    1. Thank you Deborah. I do have a collection of such encounters.
      When I was musing about what I've missed the most in these past 13 months of 'no-travelling', I figured it's these chance encounters--so much more memorable than monuments and concerts:)

  9. Wow first of all, what lovely photos Arti... You made me want to go back and look at our snaps with my henna hands :). Now coming to the post, on multiple ocassions it has so happened with me that whenever I had needed a shoulder to lean or the kindest gesture beyond expectations which has caught me by surprise... Has always come from a stranger or near stranger. Of course friends are there to fall back on that's true but isn't it these strangers who always take u by surprise with their unconditional kindness!

    1. So true Ira.
      I hope you will go through your photos and share a few too:)

  10. What a beautiful memory. I never went to Cyprus, looks like a lovely place.

  11. Lovely memory, and it shows so much that it has stuck in your memory ever since.

  12. Another beautiful memory!!My kids are embarrassed when I get friendly with strangers/co-passengers. Loved your pictures, one of them you looked like Arshia to me. I have been blessed with few amazing memories too!
    This one Chachaji who's morning routine would bring him out of this huge Arabic villa which he was the Natoor (Caretaker/Watchman). Zeena & I, would go walking to Doha Corniche every morning after sending the kids to school.We both would see this Chachaji at the main gate of this Villa every morning. Day one onwards he didn't look like a stranger, strangely. Our communication would be waving Good Morning to each other. Along with our walk, greeting eachother had become our routine.If any of us skipped the walk,he would enquire about the missing one. One day he gifted us freshly grown drumsticks (muringa), tomatoes,lemons & muringa of cost, saying he grow them here and there so much to share.We accepted the organic gifts whole heartedly but not free. He also helped us with campfire woods for our first overnight camping in Zekhreet. Sometime in July or Aug 2017, we saw an unfamiliar face instead of Chachaji, both Zeena and me had a strange feeling. And the new Natur confirmed our doubt. Chachaji had passed away in his sleep few days ago. He had been living in Doha more than 40 yrs, he hailed from Iran and was sure his family had no memory of him, but he carried a photo of their with him. We reminded him of someone his own I felt.
    Aate jaate, khoobsurat awara sadkon mein...kept humming this song after I read your post.
    I remember him again today & everytime I buy those veggies.

    1. Thank you for sharing Chachaji's story today Vidya and bringing him and his kindness alive in my world too. What a lovely, lovely memory.
      Hugs. xx

  13. What a sweet story. I love that she was so happy and excited for you and your husband on your honeymoon. Small acts of kindness go a long way. We have friends who lost their son a few years ago and every December they ask friends and family to perform acts of kindness in their sons name. It is such a wonderful way to celebrate his life and I love reading all the fun, creative things people do throughout the month to spread love and kindness. Kindness is a beautiful thing to put out in the world. Weekends In Maine

    1. Thank you for sharing your friend's story Karen. It's a beautiful way to remember their son.

  14. What a lovely moment! And you were a very stylish bride :D

    The Multicolored Diary

  15. I love the pics!! Friendship is indeed a blessing...

  16. Such a kind woman at the food truck. Heart warming anecdote. There are instances in my life too. May be some day I will post them. It's such acts that keep this world going actually.
    Never been to Cyprus. May be some day. Seems like a nice place.

    1. Reading your comment after a gap of 4 days Pradeep.
      You must post those instances -- it's so good to read about random acts of kindness. It's reassuring.
      And Cyprus is a lovely place to visit. Whenever you go, just avoid the crowded cities and beaches and you'll have a wonderful time.


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