Friday, February 13, 2015

The Kindness Diaries

The Kindness Diaries
© 2014  Leo Logothetis
288 pages

                        Is it possible to travel the world just on the kindness of strangers? Leo Logothetis was inspired to find out after reading Che Guevara’s account of touring South America by motorbike. Well, almost; The Kindness Diaries follows Leo from Los Angeles to New York,  Spain to Turkey, and – after an airplane jump to India – down through Southeast Asia.   Taking nothing for his journey, Leo’s every move is dependent on the kindness of others, from his starting tank of gas in L.A, to every meal and every night’s shelter.  He does this not because he is personally poor and wants to see the world, but because depending on others opens his and the strangers’ lives to one another. He tells them his story; they tell him his. Along the way he meets with both good luck and bad – Indians adored his yellow motorbike, as one was the hero of a Bollywood film, whereas the Vietnamese government refused to allow anyone to enter the country with an object they could not carry. (One-ton bikes are notoriously difficult to tote by hand.)   This is a book with the impress of a TV show, a highlight reel in text. Like modern reality shows, there’s a twist: Leo not only throws himself on the mercy of strangers and talks about the meaning of life with them, but he returns ordinary kindnesses with extraordinary ones.  Throughout his trip, Leo changes lives by meeting  people’s needs – giving a farmer a cow, a struggling rickshaw driver his own rent-free cab, free water filtration systems for a village in India, and so on.  It’s nice, but between that and people exchanging their secrets of life (with aphorisms like“Live in the moment”),  sometimes it felt like a saccharine gimmick. I think that's more of a jaded reader problem, though -- even with a film crew following him
The Man who Cycled the World, Mark Beaumont
Into Thick Air,  Jim Mauser

Both are of the see the world, be helped by strangers,  discover yourself, and be filmed doing it genre.

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