I was nursing my Bullet Proof coffee while I waited for my friend at a bistro in the French Concession. I tried to read a book, but a pair behind me was talking louder than I’d like. I couldn’t complain much, because most of the time, bistros in prime areas are in tight quarters.
It was a good book, but I simply couldn’t get in as the conversation became more intrusive. There was something odd about it. One was obviously an American guy. The other was obviously Chinese. But no, it was She. It was not some white dude trying to hit on a Chinese girl or vice versa. It was a Chinese man. Not just some Chinese man, but a man in his 70s. They talk about deep stuff, from history to ideology.
“Talk to them.” A voice started in my head.
“No, are you out of your mind?” I rebutted.
“The least they would do, is to ignore you. What’s the big deal?”
Interesting. I took the bait and turned around…
The Chinese elderly is actually 79. He started to learn English some four years ago via…
Wait for it… Siri. He set his phone to English and he takes classes here and there. He comes to the French Concession and talks to expats. As you can guess, he is loved and adored by the expats.
Likewise, they were equally impressed by my ‘intrusion.’ All of us became fast friends within just a few minutes.
In the cultural context here, you don’t talk to strangers. Strangers are strange and possibly dangerous. You mind your own business and live life accordingly.
But what if you don’t? What if you try? What’s the loss and what’s the gain?
Truth is, I met two great friends back in LA via serendipity. All it takes is ‘Hello.’