10 February 2005

the kindness of strangers in new york city

i have been reading all these travel books, and they talk about how europeans are friendly like no americans. and i've been excited, thinking of conversations with a greek woman in a market, and an italian man on a crowded sweltering street, and sharing intimate secrets across the table at a french cafe with someone i met barely 5 minutes ago. but recently i have had some terrific conversations with strangers in new york city.

when i was taking the 345 am bus to dc on sun, the man next to me asked to take his picture in front of the marquee. i obliged, and as his english wasn't the greatest, he asked me what was going on (regarding baggage, etc, there was a lot of confusion). on the bus he sat next to me. he was visiting from sri lanka, and told me that he found americans so friendly. i couldn't believe it. we ended up talking during the ride, when i wasn't sleeping. when we got off the bus, he gave me his card and we wished each other luck. we had talked about the tsunami, about languages, about traveling, about ourselves, about his children.

last night i was taking the train back from my parents' house. leaving the lirr, i got into the elevator with an awesome woman--she had long dreads of green and other colors, and we talked in the elevator, and the entire train ride. she's an amazing woman, we had an intimate conversation and barely knew each other. she's a musician, and goes by bitch, so watch out for her. after i leave, i felt elated, having learned about communes in italy and interesting facts about her life.

i met this people so briefly, but am so grateful for their brief presence. now go talk to a stranger, and maybe you'll be surprised, especially if you are a new yorker.

1 comment:

jen said...

Hi Cherie,

I've actually found that most Europeans are not that friendly to strangers and definitely not that likely to strike up conversation. Talking to strangers is much more of an American thing. However, you will find that travellers are the friendliest people in the world, b/c if they are travelling they probably like to meet new people too. That's one of my favorite things about traveling, there is a whole underground culture of travellers and you'd be suprised how you keep running into people all over the world and how other travelers will go out of their way to help you out.