Strangers… or are they really?

We have all heard the famous saying from either our parents or from other sources when going out either alone or with someone else they trust; “Don’t talk to strangers”. It’s all logical when we think about it from a parental or a loved one’s perspective but from an individual perspective it doesn’t make sense. We are all strangers before we interact with someone and get to know them, make friends with them or even better, fall in love with them. If we don’t converse with them and stay away from them as they are ‘strangers’ at that point in time, we wouldn’t have many companions.

A few months back, when I used to get late to catch my usual bus to my Japanese class and instead, end up having to catch the next bus, I used to  see a short, elderly woman out there wearing her jacket and carrying a cloth bag with her. On our first meeting, she looked at my bike and we hit up on a good conversation about biking and its benefits and how she used to bike when she was young before getting hit by the handlebars a few times because of her short stature and stopped biking. (which is quite ironic when you think about how many times I’ve got hit in the… *ahem* painful area when I was young before I decided to master it! 😛 ) And with that, every time thereafter we used to meet, she started conversing about how her sister is admitted in a hospital and how she came from Peru to take care of her and other details about her sister. Now the general thinking would say, “Wait, she is giving way too much details. Isn’t that bad ?” Well, true. If I was not who I am and decided to take advantage of what she mentioned to me as a stranger, I would have done a lot of damage but, somehow, I could be wrong here, she seemed to talk to only me in comparison to everyone else at the bus stop or even in the bus. Weird, it may seem, but somehow in the back of my mind I always have the feeling that she knew whom she was talking to before she even uttered a word.

So, the second point which I realized then was that, you need to have a good intuition and be able to trust that! That is one of the most important steps in conversing with strangers. Of course, judging a person just by their looks is a bad thing indeed, but sometimes you never know what kind of conversation you might end up having with that person who looks ‘not so good’. The third point which I realized was that, you need to know when to stop giving out too many personal details. As humans, most of us a gullible and a lot of people tend to take advantage of that in many ways but, as long as you know how to limit your information according to the trust and security level you share with the other person, it is all good. Today, I might share a lot of personal information with my close friends or my teachers because I know them quite well and also their nature and personal details.

Now, as the title suggests, when does a person change from a Stranger to an acquaintance or friend? That is simple, isn’t it? The moment you converse you become acquaintances. It could be just a smile with a few greetings or a full-blown conversation. During my stay here in the US for about 3 years now, I’ve been acquainted and befriended a lot of people and all those conversations have made me understand things better, understand people better, make me grow as a person, think deeper about life in general, meet more strangers and engage in wonderful eye-opening conversations and educate people and get educated. If I had treated them as strangers, I would still be the same ignorant, close minded person I used to be and learnt nothing more in life.

For introverts like me, we can argue that we don’t want to engage in a conversation with everyone we see and I most definitely don’t want to be the one to start the conversation. For such people, the best thing to do is take something with you; could be a musical instrument, could be a well-known book, could be a camera, could be a bike or anything that could be eye-catchy and try to use them in a way that people would notice you. You could act as stupid as you can, or as nice and formal as you can be or for that instance, you could just catch them looking at you and smile at them and greet them. That is all it takes. Either the opposite party likes your smile and starts a conversation or they consider you a weird, lunatic or a perverted lecher depending on where and how you look! 😛

For me, Photography has brought me to know of new friends and people whom I considered as strangers earlier and it continues to get me to make more friends and learn a lot about different things in life.

The other day, when I had gone on a journey to Seaport Village here in San Diego, I met someone quite interesting. He was demonstrating his ability to line up rocks vertically with just his energy and no support and also allowed people to try placing a piece of rock on top of a water bottle filled with water. A scientific mind would say, find the center of gravity of the rock and place it gently but, no matter how you tried it, it just wouldn’t work! He slowly lifted and placed it on top of the bottle and it stood there motionless as if he did something magical. From his accent, I judged that he had to be somewhere from South East Asia, more Indian than not, or Mexican. The songs being played near him gave him his identity. He was an Indian alright! After talking to him for a while I came to know that he was  a Reiki master from West Bengal in India and that he had stayed in Mumbai for a brief period of time before starting his Reiki journey somewhere near Tibet and finally came to the US. He keeps travelling all over the world. He also showed me his teacher’s photo who is said to have lived for 70 years without food or water! (Well, the authenticity of that might be debatable but the fact that he knew what he was doing was clearly evident from his works) He said he removes all the rocks every night before leaving and assembled them again the next morning. I spoke to him and soon, I learnt that he had lost his wife back in 2002 and since then, he has lost his faith in God and has been pursuing this path. I also learnt from him that Reiki originated in India and was spread because of Buddhism and today, the World knows Reiki as being originated from Japan because of how it has been propagated from there. That was new to me.

I have always had a passion to learn about Reiki ever since a college mate of mine told me that he used to be a Reiki user. With my ever lasting obsession with Japanese culture, Buddhism, Kendo, Kyudo and a lot of other stuff related to Japan have always interested me. This got added to the list of my interests and thus, this meeting made a change in both my thinking as well as my personality. If I had just looked at him like most others and decided not to converse with him or for that reason, he decided not to showcase something he was unique at, all this wouldn’t have happened.

Well, I don’t know how to end this blog post but, all in all I can say that the more I converse with strangers, the more I travel on my own without any reservations, the more I begin to understand the World, cultures, traditions and people better. It makes me feel better about being myself and makes me become a better person knowing what others go through in and where I am compared to them in a story called life. 🙂

As usual, a musical ending. I am running out of songs to add to my posts so badly that I think I need to start using my Violin more and start making my own tunes! 😛

One of my most favorite anime sound tracks. Hope you like it. 🙂

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