Kind and Thoughtful Chicagoans

On the second day of our one week trip to Chicago, Oishi’s glasses broke – the lenses were intact, but one of them popped out of the frame and I struggled to put it back in. She was getting very nervous because I had a lot planned for the trip – a four-day hop-on hop-off tour covering not only the important city attractions, but also the south, west and north neighborhoods; Chicago River Architecture boat tour; and the Blue Man Group Show. We were close to the Water Tower and dashed inside an eyeglass store named SEE, hoping to pay some money and get the glasses fixed so that they would last the duration of the trip.

“Can you please fix these glasses? We are vacationing here from New Jersey,” I said to one of the girls at the counter. I was going to offer some money but she did not give me a chance. After a few minutes she brought the glasses to Oishi. With a bright smile, Oishi exclaimed, “Mama these are perfect!” The girl smiled and said, “I am glad they are. Enjoy your vacation!” Oishi and I were so taken by her unassuming act of kindness that we ran to Macy’s, which was right next door, and bought a gift card for her. When we gave her the card, she looked incredulous, and Oishi whispered “Mama I don’t think they are used to it. I guess being kind is the only way for them.”


Right after we checked into our hotel at the Chicago Loop district, I discovered that I did not bring my makeup and brush. I whined a little and Oishi commented, “Gee Mama, I thought you forgot to bring your medicine.” But deep down, she wanted to do something about this. After her glasses were repaired, we were ready to take on the world, and I decided to buy makeup. I strolled into Sephora and Oishi said, “Mama, I will be nearby while you buy makeup,” and she left the store. After a few minutes, when I was almost done buying, she came back and said, “You don’t need to buy any makeup brushes because I got six of them for you.”

“What? How? Where did you get them?” were only some of the questions I started firing at her.

“Relax, Mama. I went to buy a face brush for you at bareMinerals but the price was more than I could afford. So the store lady asked whether I wanted to surprise you and gave me these free sample brushes.”


We were on our way to the Chicago O’Hare airport via the blue line and a bit melancholy, since it was the last couple of hours of a relaxed and wonderful vacation. Neither Oishi nor I was paying attention to the announcements in the train. At Western, the train stopped and a young girl, before getting down from the train, asked us, “Are you going to O’Hare?”

Oishi and I looked at each other and replied, “Yes.”

She smiled and said, “You have to get down here and take the bus and then the train again from Logan Square station. They are doing construction between Western and Logan Square.”

With a disbelieving look, we replied “Really?”

“Trust me. I am going to O’Hare too,” she said, and indicated for us to follow her.

Oishi sat down next to her in the train from Logan Square, and I asked her name. “Caitlin with a C. I am Irish.”

Within a few minutes, Oishi and Caitlin started talking as though they have known each other for a long time. I couldn’t help but take a picture of them. She stayed with us until we got to the airport and asked us whether we would be okay from there on. Oishi and I were touched by her caring attitude and decided to get her contact information. Hopefully they will stay in touch!


Besides Caitlin, there were many unnamed strangers who gave unsolicited directions upon watching two lost women holding an open map with nervous and wandering eyes. Help was right around the corner wherever we turned.


I highlighted only a few encounters with the kind and thoughtful Chicagoans during our seven-day trip to the city, while other countless considerate and selfless happenings made the trip an absolutely perfect vacation.


I cannot end this post without a hearty shout-out for the unequivocally entertaining Blue Man Group of Chicago.

Sample brushes - a memento from bareMinerals
Sample brushes – a memento from bareMinerals


Oishi & Caitlin on our way to O'Hare
Oishi & Caitlin on our way to O’Hare

Sharmistha’s Book

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Sharmistha Das

Sharmistha Das, an Indian immigrant engineer and entrepreneur, is the author of "From Hindustan Cables Limited - Journey of a Small-Town Indian Immigrant Woman". Every South Asian woman who has immigrated to America will identify with the adventurous journey of Sharmistha Das. Born in a small rural company town of Hindustan Cables Limited in Bengal, India, Sharmistha grew up with her brother, mother and father in a simple home without running water or furniture, but with a great amount of love. Supported by her parents, she left her hometown for Kolkata and became the first female engineer from her community. After her marriage, she moved to Bangkok, Thailand and finally to America, the land of opportunity and heartache. While working and bringing up her daughter, she got her Masters in Business Administration and started her own business. Unthinkable for a girl from Hindustan Cables, she got divorced in 2012 and adapted to a new life as a single woman and as a single mother. Sharmistha’s story will inspire any women to dare to live her dreams.

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