Tag Archives: talking to strangers

The Conversation

Conversation is a window to the World different from mine. It changes my perspectives and there’s always something to learn from the different characters we meet. The past few weeks I am privileged to be able to have conversations with friends whom I haven’t met for a while, new acquaintances I come to admire, and people of higher position than I am who opened up themselves.

One of them is my couple-friends who are moving out of the country next month. They have 2 beautiful kids and they shared how they might someday adopt a child because they, especially the wife, just can’t see a child suffers and not do anything about it. After she became a mother she sees every child as her own. I’ve heard mothers said that before but I could sense how heart breaking it is for her to even talk about deprived children. I know adoption is common now but I come from a typical Chinese family where adoption is taboo and the only reason one would adopt is because they are unable to bear biological child. It’s heart-warming to see a couple with such openness and genuineness about adoption.

Another interesting conversation I had was with a couple who owns a sound studio I met through work. The husband had to concentrate on the actual work so I didn’t get to talk much with him but while waiting for him to complete the task, his convivial wife kept me fascinated with stories of what they do. I know zilch about audio and as I listened to the wife sharing the process of composing and orchestrating a song for advertisement, it’s like walking into a Narnia wardrobe. It’s my first time being exposed to the audio world, and I began to understand why there are so many audiophiles around. Also, I’ve never met anyone who loves watching movies as much as this lady-boss. Even I, a self-proclaimed film buff, will gladly pass my crown.

And last week, I was at the right place where I met someone senior who shared briefly about how he arrived at his current position, and the choices he made along the way. It makes me see under the layer of titles, people are quite the same. Yes, some people are pretty much born-leaders (I met them too) but even born-leaders went through a period a grilling and reshaping. I’m just very humbled to hear about their vulnerabilities.

There are more conversations I have been blessed to have, and the more I speak to people the more I realised the importance of a conversation. You gain knowledge, understanding and relationship at the cost of nothing (or the price of coffee). When I was in New Zealand, people – strangers just like to greet one another and talk. I was always very fascinated with that. It’s a shame we don’t have that culture here but no matter where we are I’m sure conversations can happen. When it does be sure to listen.




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Food for Thought – Strangers.

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Growing up, I’ve always been told not to talk to strangers. “Strangers are bad people. They are going to kidnap you or kill you.” and I don’t blame my parents for saying that because as a young child, I probably could not discern the good and bad guys so to make things easier, they taught me to eliminate talking to strangers altogether. However, as I grew up I realised talking to strangers is one of the most exciting things to do.

I discover the joy of talking to strangers during the year I spent in New Zealand, in a city called Invercargill. The population of the city was about 50,000 at that time. 10,000 in the urban area. Because there were so few people, everyone were like neighbors and you’d just naturally greet any strangers you came across. You even say “hello” to the bus driver when boarding the bus and shout “thank you” when alighting. It was a bit of culture shock to me when I was first approached by a stranger at the bus stop while waiting for the bus. But through that conversation I learnt about his interesting past and we became very good friends. To me it was an eye opener, window to a world that I wouldn’t have known if he hadn’t shared with me.

Also, as a person who like to travel without tour group and preferably to a place that I’ve never been before, I often find myself at the mercy of strangers. I had to trust strangers to point me to the right direction and I find it a lot easier to find my way by asking strangers than to figure out my own way using the map.

One of the reasons why we don’t usually talk to strangers, for me, is because I’m afraid. Sometimes we are afraid of the unknown and the many what ifs it comes with. But I’ve learnt that people are a lot kinder than we give them credit for. Of course, you don’t talk to people who offer you lollipops and ask you to sit in their car. That’s how people die. But in most situations, talking to strangers can be pretty interesting and you’ll never know you meet.

After all, don’t we all start out as strangers?


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