I specifically remember one particular taxi ride in Calcutta. My driver had barely spoken English. I was 21, traveling on a minimum budget and that meant a lot of tiresome public transport transfers and food only when necessary. Similar to the Philippines, asking one's religion had been a basic getting to know you question in India. The driver uttered 3 or 4 words in English, asking "Muslim?" and "beef?" with the signal of his hands eating. I figured he was asking me if I was Muslim and if I ate beef. He made hand signals pointing to my face, and I barely understood what he wanted to say. He then pulled over to a sketchy back alley. For a second I thought I was in danger because he made the signal to go outside the car. I waited, thoughts running in my mind about what people had told me about India, and thinking that this was my open window to escape trouble. Better get out of the car while he wasn't there. I don't know what made me stay, but I decided against that logic. Minutes later, the driver came back and handed me a plate full of warm biryani with huge chunks of beef. He said something like, you no Muslim, no? Okay beef? And handed me a big cold bottle of water too. He made the same hand eating gesture and said eat, eat.
I was embarrassed by myself. Here I was thinking he'd do me wrong, when in fact he was concerned I was pale from the intense heat in the city, and that I hadn't eaten. When time came for me to pay my cab fare, I offered to pay more than what was on the meter for the food and he said no, and gave me the change I was rightfully due.
This made me think - how can someone who barely has anything to offer give so much more than those who have many?
So much stigma exists in the world right now, but a lot of people believe in their prejudices without having to get to know the context by which irrational attitudes of hostility exist. I'd like to think that whether my driver was Muslim, Hindu, Christian or whatnot, that he would've offered me the same kind gesture regardless of which religion we both came from. Now, doesn't that speak of a higher level of humanity than what any other dogma or scripture teaches you?