This Ramadan (the period where Muslims observe fasting for a month), I decided to do a Ramadan Acts of Kindness challenge, whereby in addition to fasting, I would also commit to committing acts of kindness -- big and small -- for 30 days. The purpose of this to remind Muslims and to inform others that charity is also a big part of Ramadan.
To make the challenge interesting, I came up with different categories for my acts of kindness (such as being kind to myself; to family and friends; to the community; to specific causes; and quirky acts of kindness) and one of them was writing out kind and encouraging notes and handing them to random people like ER staff, service people, buskers, etc.
So, one late afternoon, while I was writing out the notes at the Swanston St McDonald's, there was a gentleman who came in and sat two tables away from me.
He looked like he had been sleeping rough -- I'm not entirely sure -- and he started talking loudly to himself. I was listening to my music, so I kept to myself.
But when I had to made a phone call, I took off my earphones and continue doing my work without putting them back on.
That's when Kurt (the aforementioned gentleman) started speaking to me. I was initially wary because I wasn't sure what he was after since he didn't have any food with him.
But he looked like he wanted to talk to someone because he initiated a conversation with me and he also spoke to a couple of teenage boys who were sitting at the next table.
When the teenage boys left their table soon after, I began responding to Kurt a bit more and engaged with him (that's how I found out his name).
He eventually asked for $0.40 for bus fare. I gave him some change and wondered if he would also like to have some coffee. He did, so I shouted him a latte and shared a raspberry pastry with him.
On the original Ramadan Acts of Kindness list, it did suggest getting random strangers coffees -- like paying for the next person who was getting coffee after you -- and I guess this was another version of doing that.
But in addition to that, I also felt that Kurt was simply seeking for some human connection for whatever reason today (because apart from the $0.40 he asked for -- he didn't asked for anything else. In fact, he was even offering me a spare power adaptor and a mechanical pencil that he had).
So in the spirit of Ramadan and what I've been trying to do this month, I simply responded by being kind to folks who looked like they could use with some kindness.