Why I Talk to Strangers

As children, we were often told to never talk to strangers because it’s dangerous. And I remember being frequently scolded by my parents for disobeying. I was caught many times — in school, in the market, in grocery shops, department stores — talking to strangers both young and old. I don’t know but even at a young age, I prefer to smile and say hello or something rather than just staying silent. With the innocence of children, they won’t really understand the different intentions of strangers for being nice. So I could definitely understand that it’s a very sound advice for children not to talk to strangers.

Not very much so with adults though.ย Talking to strangers is one of the few most relaxing and interesting thing I do when I’m alone.

The first reason why I genuinely find it interesting talking to strangers even when I was a child was because I grew up from a small family and not very close with our relatives. We also didn’t have neighbors whom we can play with when we were children so I only spend time with my two brothers, not that they’re not interesting enough to be with, they’re both very cool actually, but I always thought that there are far more things I can know and learn about if I talk to others and more often than not, they happen to be strangers.

I also like talking to strangers for the simple reason that I hate waiting. Waiting for friends who come late at the scheduled meeting time, waiting for my order to arrive when I dine out alone, waiting in long queues, waiting for my turn in banks or other offices. Waiting is boring so I always bring a book with me but sometimes why not talk with someone instead until it’s your turn to approach the counter or until your friends arrive? I mean, time flies faster when there’s someone to talk to, right?

When I was a freshman in the university and was working part time in a fast food restaurant, we had this customer who eats the very same thing — rice, hotdogs and eggs with hot chocolate— every Monday morning. He is good-looking but he never smiled. He always carries a blue backpack and always reads a book while he eats. Strangers like this guy appear to me as riddles waiting to be solved. They’re irresistible. Why does he eat the same thing at almost the same time every Monday morning? Why doesn’t he smile? What other books have he read? Who is his favorite author? Etc. Etc. One rainy morning, he came again and for the first time, he came to my counter. He said hello. I think I was smiling wide to my ears when I said, “Hi! Good morning. One hotdog meal with hot chocolate for dine-in?” He smiled back. We dated for the next couple of years.

Moreover, a stranger is not my phone, nor my laptop or PC. So talking to someone I don’t know is a way of taking a break from gadgets. A break from work-related or the usual phone calls or text messages. A break from my typical work day. A smile and some small talk with a stranger often recharge my energy.

For the past fifteen years or so, I’ve experienced happily talking to strangers while travelling. When I travel, I always spend a good amount of time in parks and cafes to read, write and people-watch. The fun thing about it is you’ll never know who you’d happen to sit right next to, or who would happen to sit next to you.

Sometimes I feel like I’m a stranger to someone and I feel they’re interested to talk to me, too. The first time I visited Hanoi, I get to meet some students in the park surrounding Hoan Kiem Lake, who are working on a project about what tourists like the most about their country. They basically asked to interview me to which I delightfully obliged. While I was hiking my way up to the Monastery in Petra, I was offered a marriage proposal! Ha! That could make for another post. ๐Ÿ™‚ When I was in Qatar, I’ve met a British guy in the library as we happen to be looking for the same books. While in a tram in Georgia, I’ve met a Kuwaiti family who happens to be very nice to me. I’ve also met several others in clubs and restaurants. It’s funny actually because I’ve met/befriended more Kuwaitis in Georgia in four days than in my nine years of working in Kuwait. ๐Ÿ™‚ย I’ve also met people from different walks of life and with all sorts of life experiences. I’ve met a wealthy businessman while exploring the monastery and caves of Vardzia, an Australian guy who gave up his job to travel and was so curious about the “Happy Pizza” in Siem Reap, expats earning a living in Doha, poor villagers who don’t have any idea how much money tourism makes out of the attractions in their country but are only very grateful that you visited their place and so much more.

I’m a big fan of solo travel but it doesn’t really feel like I’m traveling alone because of the many strangers I get to talk to. Having an unexpected travel buddy (or buddies) from time to time is rewarding. And it’s even more interesting if these buddies are different from me. They help me realize how much of a bubble I actually live in. I learn new things from them. They help me broaden my view of the world.

I also get to have the deepest and the most meaningful of conversations with strangers. When I first arrived in my hotel in Amman, I’ve met two women (one from Palestine and one from Syria) and a man from Saudi Arabia right there in the lobby. We instantly clicked and that same afternoon went on a road trip to As-Salt, had dinner, smoked shisha, shared each other’s life stories like as if we’ve known each other for a very long time. I was then mending a broken heart from a seven-year relationship and the Syrian lady just broke up with her boyfriend the day before. The other lady just broke an engagement while the guy recently got dumped. A group of brokenhearted humans basically. That’s a very unforgettable day. Four souls with shattered hearts formed a friendship like no other.

I don’t know but I often find it easier to open up to strangers, it’s cathartic telling them my deepest feelings. Or probably because I won’t see them again anyway! Ha! Or maybe because they tend to be more objective? Bottom line is, there’s something strangely satisfying talking to people I don’t really know. That’s how I feel, at least.

Strangers have too much to offer us. Each has a unique story to tell. And when we keep our minds open to encounters with strangers, we learn about them and they teach us something in return. Some encounters could even be life-changing. Who knows, right? Some stay for a while, some stay longer. But either way, they serve us a purpose that helps us evolve into better people.

Happy day, Homo sapiens! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Author: Just_Me :)

Basically a breathing, moving, eating and happy-go-lucky homo sapiens. Full-time daydreamer and part-time paranoid. I love reading, I love Roger Federer, I love food.

41 thoughts on “Why I Talk to Strangers”

  1. Itโ€™s great that you still see the importance of speaking to people even though theyโ€™re strangers. This reminds me of Jesus speaking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:7-21). I have had wonderful conversations with people mostly about politics, the end of the world or God but itโ€™s important never to lose the art of conversation. Younger generations donโ€™t see the importance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’d talk to strangers surely…maybe to ask for the time or if maybe they have some information on why the train might be delayed etc….
    If it goes well..then yayyy but otherwise no force. I’m not the kind of person who would push it..
    I tend to connect better with the opposite sex, friendlier and basically milder of the two sexes…lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess Iโ€™m just lucky that these strangers I encounter are really nice and cool!๐Ÿ™‚ And yeah, I connect far better with the opposite sex! Friendlier and less drama! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Like

  3. It is a gift to be open and inclusive as well as a listener in a world that is so full of intolerance &insecurities. The world needs more of such people as much as it can get . But I am sure you must be certainly having a reason if you are observing and are aware of a change …

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post of yours . As it resonates deep. Your shared experiences speak much of the person you truly are. I too am glad I have the ability to talk to strangers as I have had some amazing experiences because of it . And great learnings too! Yes it can be unwise at times but in caring to listen in and in trusting your gut instinct you most often are taken care .
    And most of all like you say … we evolve into better humans in taking a little step in time towards knowing and understanding another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, thanks a lot for reading, Ms. Savvy Raj! ๐Ÿ™‚ And sharing! I don’t know what is it with me, but I think it just comes out naturally, it’s like I easily get comfortable with people. ๐Ÿ™‚ Though that’s changing these past few weeks…

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Right! Most of the best conversations Iโ€™ve had are with strangers. Sometimes too, we talk for hours without even knowing each otherโ€™s names! ๐Ÿ˜… Thanks for reading! Have a great day!๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Talking to strangers goes a long way toward brightening their day, & yours (if they’re open to it, of course). But sometimes it isn’t words that do the trick. I found that smiling & nodding at people in S. Korea got a positive reaction that went beyond their merely staring at me as the strange “white” girl. Sometimes they started conversations in their halting English, which was better than my nonexistent Korean.
    In this country, it often amazes me how much people don’t nod at you or greet you, even when they are looking right at you while walking in the opposite direction or somesuch. Weird.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A smile definitely goes a long way! I usually just smile and say hi first and that’s it. I think I’m just lucky that most of the people I’ve encountered responded in a positive way. I’ve encountered several Koreans too, who don’t even nod or acknowledge you when you greet them or something. I work in a Korean company and yeah, most of them are these days behave that way. Thanks for dropping by. Have a great day! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, we dated for two years more or less. We both wanted the breakup because we both didn’t agree to a long distance relationship and so it ended nicely. You’re right, it’s so tough getting your heart broken… Thanks a lot for reading! ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, Iโ€™d agree there too, long distance isnโ€™t for everyone. So glad it ended on a good note. Ugh! A broken heart, I donโ€™t know if thereโ€™s anything that can prepare you for that. Great post, so honest, I love that! ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Right! A broken heart but it feels like everything hurts, too! Ha! But I kinda miss the feeling of being in love these days! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I think I’m ready to date again… Anyway, thanks again! Happy Sunday! ๐Ÿ™‚

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Ugh! I know! And for me has taken years and years to recover from. Maybe some broken hearts just take more time to mend than others.
            Thatโ€™s wonderful, being open to love again is truly a beautiful thing. And taking our time to recover from past hurt to get into something new is essential. ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

            Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, maybe. But someone will come into your life and help you heal that broken heart. Theyโ€™ll prove to you, that giving love a second chance is worth it. My husband has helped me with my baggage, he continues to help unpack all the pain and hurt I carried with me when him and I met.

                Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, you’re right. There’s something liberating about talking to strangers. Maybe it’s the fact that you’ll never run into them again, or maybe it’s just the fact that you can open your mind, without fear of judgement. Once the conversation picks up, it can go on and on. Breaking the ice is the hardest part. But then again, my experiences are short-lived, for there’s not much time while commuting in the metro!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is was such a nice post honestly. It’s amazing to share your feelings and without a doubt learn new things while talking to strangers. Also your life sounds interesting! I hope I can have an interesting one too haha. ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Wow ! It must be fun talking to strangers & learning more from them.

    How do you break the ice when you want to start a conversation with a stranger?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It really is! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ It usually depends upon the situation, whether Iโ€™m traveling or just in a cafe here or in the airport. But it always starts with a hi and how are you and a smile, of course! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Liked by 1 person

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