When I visit some places, I feel a sense of belonging .. As though I have been there before. The English garden in Munich is one such place for me. The moment I enter the park, my mind clears as I take in the expanse the greets me and it feels as though I am visiting a long lost friend. I discovered this park in June 2012 when I saw a group of people surfing across a small water body that was barely 10 ft wide at one of the entrances of the park. These surfers were of all levels of expertise and they were OK to make do with such a small space to surf across. Even though the surfers attracted me to stop by , its my entry into the park and running through it started my love affair with this park. The winding paths that cut through thick tree lines paths as well as across the open grounds and around a small pond weer a visual feast.
As I arrived in Munich to speak at the DLD conference on 23rd Jan, I truly looked forward to visiting the park the following am. I was up at 6:30am and got out of the Bayerischer hof hotel and jogged to the park. It took me about 15 mts to reach the park from a different entrance than the usual one where the surferes would be. It was really cold outside and I was sure that there would be no surferes but I jogged over to that entrance to check anyway. As expected, still to my disappointment, the surfers were not there. Even though I do not know any of them nor do I remember the faces, I somehow felt that group of surfers were my long lost friends and I was really looking forward to seeing them.
As I got over my disappointment, I noticed a small cottage that looked like a cafe to nestled in the woods. I decided to check this place out to see if I could use the rest room. I opened the doors and walked into a small, cute cafes with two young women behind the counter who were arranging the pastries and brewing the coffee. I asked them if I could use the restroom and one of the ladies pointed the door to me and said that I would need 50p. I said that I only had a credit card. She laughed and slipped in a 50p in my hand. These are the small things that really touch me. It was not as though I had something to eat or drink and asking for a favor. I was just a stranger running across the park. And she did not bat an eyelid when I said that I did not have the money - not a moment of hesitation, irritation or indifference. She just laughed and slipped the coin in my hand and got back to her work. That act of kindness without thinking much of it is something I really admire in people. As I was leaving, I asked her if I could buy some scones with a credit card so that I could leave well more than 50pm as tip and she laughed again and said “sorry! only cash”. I really felt bad but somehow was also charged by this simple act of generosity. I went for my run across the park and got back to the room still thinking of the small cafe in the woods - where the people behind the counter have truly large hearts. If any of you go to Munich and the English garden, please do to cafe and tell her that I sent you :-) and then go for a walk or a jog across the park and think of me.