July 31, 2008

Everyday stranger

It is a fact that most people live in the city don't talk to strangers, they keep to themselves and when a stranger does try to talk to them, their radar goes up, and they wonder what this stranger is after. But if you go within small towns, you see people are the complete opposite. They are more friendly, with a smile on their face, greeting strangers.

My sister who lives and works in Singapore leaving home at the same time every day. She gets to the MRT station at the same train each morning, every day, would most likely meet with pretty much the same people going to the same direction. For years, she would probably sit on the train with the same person but they never exchanged pleasantries, no eye contact, no head nod, no hello.

On the other hand, I'm a pretty social person. I can easily talk to everybody, the postman, the girl at the news stand, the jamu vendor, the girl in the small kiosk who sells instant noodles, teh botol, etc, the patient at the doctor's waiting room ... but it was never anything other than a brief chats. When I had my dog, Fatso, I would walk him regularly each morning. By doing this have made me new friends who also own dogs. We often bump into each other around the same time so we could chat, and our dogs could run and play together.

Inter personal communications have long been replaced with electronic communications such as cell phones, email, IM etc. Our living is full of these close encounters where we never make contact in person. We may know from the television or the internet about what's happening thousands of miles away, day and night. But do you know who is the person you see each day on the way to work or the person who lives next door to you?

**Image stolen from flickr**


koko said...

everyone's stranger also..

Ivy said...

well, i am for one an introvert when it comes to this. not that i suspect anyone is with a bad intention but i'm the type who has to be approached before i can talk with the person (unless I have to) I make small talks too sometimes but that depends on my mood too lol

Lorraine said...

I bike everyday to work and come accross the same people en route everyday. We just nodded to each other politely.

One of them I met in a business meeting earlier this year & had a chance to really have a chat with him.

Katadia said...

Hello Elyani. Salam Kenal. I love chit chatting. Maybe because I've been deprived of conversations with adults lately. But I have always been pretty alright in starting up a conversation with strangers...

My favourite is talking to other mums in the nursing room at the mall. Comparing notes of how wonderful your children are yet how they drive you crazy sometimes.

On the other hand, I used to commute in Japan, and I didn't talk to anyone in the train. It's not the culture there and I was no where near fluent LOL!

Elyani said...

@Koko: I guess I'm no stranger than you or anyone here :)

@Ivy: not everyone knows how to to strike up a conversation after sitting in silence:)

@Lorraine: sometimes you meet the nicest people that way.

@Katadia: salam kenal juga. Ditto, if I think the person is interesting enough I would strike up a conversation to pass the time, . How else do you make new friends ?

sima said...

i should admit that i don't socialize that much, only know some of my closest neighbors - those living nextdoor and across the street...

therry said...

I talk with strangers when I'm in a good mood - and what I mean strangers are cashier check-out girls, taxi drivers and bank officers.

But due from bad experiences, I'm deeply schizophrenic when it comes to neighbours. I don't talk to them at all, and even avoid conversations struck by them.

Maybe because it was because they were always some random old men or 20-something boys who lead very boring lives.

That makes my whole neighbourhood sounds like it's filled with perverts LOL

bonnie2405 said...

Funny that when I read your article, I just had a chat with my husband about how can we live in the same place for three years but only have very few contact with our neighbours. Not because they are pervert...but it seems here it is much easier to keep in touch with your friends from school than your neighbour. But well after three years at least we know at least one neighbour that we can trust with spare key should something happen to us or our house while we're in holiday or something.

In my early years living in the NL, I love to have an innocent chit chat with old grandma. Reason: they speak a very clear and simple dutch which then good to boost my dutch capability. Dunno why but with grandpa category...it was not really in sync. Either they speak with dialect or with a very complex vocabulary that not really help me to build a decent conversation.

Elyani said...

@Sima: Part of the problem are fences. Houses today are built with a high fences making it difficult for us to see who's inside the property.

@Therry: yep...esp. the one that just got out of prison, LOL!

@Bonnie: same here, I talk to my neighbors, but not too much and not too often. I don't try to have close friends right next door, just good neighbor :)