Making friends out of strangers

Once you step out of the house, you find not everyone is willing to break the ice. Some deliberately avoid eye contact while others share just a fleeting glance.

This is a particular reality while travelling. Sometimes locals are seemingly envious of privileged tourists and can be agitated by stark interviews that they are expected to answer along with CCC (ceaselessly clicking cameras) hovering around their place of stay and livelihood. For once, I realized that when you expect a story too much, you get none. The best anecdotes are recalled when deriving from a flow, when you empathize with the person you are talking you, when you want to know more than just being a passerby.

To achieve this, it is useful to prepare oneself for being one of them; it is difficult to change your appearance, and you don’t need to. All you have to do is to make an effort to be authentic and approachable. For example, you can roam around in high heels while hiding behind your shiny shades still armed with a high-tech multi lens camera through the narrow traditional lanes of a large city. However, the locals would see what you are essentially, a ‘foreigner’ and couldn’t care less about you, especially if in a touristy place or otherwise would only peek curiously, particularly if you are a female.

Forgiving possible disasters that heels could lead to, I would rather take off the aviators, look into people’s eyes and smile at those who pass by- and most importantly,  ask for permission before photographing. Most people would give in and even pose and smile for a photo, but some can cringe. Respect their choice, and move on.

Since it is a human settlement that you are visiting, not a museum and you have to connect with them to gain any emotional ‘footage’ at all and you don’t expect to be gifted exquisite pictures of poverty. A smile usually always makes a positive impact. Because it doesn’t cost anything to smile, even if you are first to smile, and you do not get one in return. Do not let the feeling of momentary rejection get onto you. You do not need to meet this person ever again!

So bag your camera, and take it out when needed, put  on an easy mode, and get on the road!


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