A Lesson From Angola

Posted by Ashima Goyal on Aug 1, 2016
4544 reads  
We live in a very beautiful area, right opposite the Atlantic ocean but when we moved to Angola and to this neighborhood we were warned of walking alone outside as just inside the main road there are lots of favelas and fishermen who lived right on the beach. I was quite scared just by the sight of policemen walking casually with big machine guns. It took me almost a year to get used to of them being everywhere in the city. Back in India, I had never even seen a revolver on the regular police so in some ways I was scared to engage with strangers on the street unless it was within the work of the foundation I volunteered with or the school I worked in.

Only recently, I overcame my need for safety and started going on morning walks along the beach alone. I was still shy of meeting people's eyes. Somehow there is the sense of being an outsider. In some cases I was scared and I noticed I would physically move to the other end of the road to avoid any contact.

Few days back, I saw an old man cleaning the road. He was very diligently making sure of getting all the mud out of each and every gap on the cobblestone road. I just kept looking at him and walking when he suddenly looked up and our eyes met. He had a very grave expression and I simply smiled and wished him "Bon dia" (Good morning). I couldn't stop smiling when he gave me one of the biggest-all-teeth-shining-smile and said "Bon dia senhora! Muito bon dia" (Good morning lady! A very good morning). And after that one smile from him, I consciously started greeting everybody I crossed. It's been amazing how in the last one week, there have been unsaid relationships formed with the man who leaves for work around the same time and now we wave each other if we are far; the girl who  sells coffee and the workers who are currently digging the other side for laying down pipes, the fishermen who clean and sort their fish that time. It feels so happy :).

I have stopped putting in my earphones as I don't feel like I am walking alone any more. There is one point where a lady sells wine at 7am and there always are 7-8 men huddled there. That is still the place I feel a bit uncomfortable crossing, but I have stopped putting that physical distance of crossing the street when I come across them and just keep walking. 

I so related with one of the questions of a recent Moved by Love retreat - what stops us from giving our inherent gifts?  And also to this week's Maitri Tune that a more beautiful world is possible right now if we all just perform little acts of love wherever we are, with whatever we have and to whoever is in front of us.

Posted by Ashima Goyal | | permalink

Share A Comment

 Your Name: Email:

Smiles From 17 Members Login to Add a Smile

Comments (3)

  • Khushmita Sanghvi wrote ...

    What a beautiful sharing Ashima :)

  • Nisha Srinivasan wrote ...

    Great share Ashima. Thank you.

  • Patricia-C Prada Jimenez wrote ...