Striking conversations with strangers has never been a problem for me.
During a recent one-day bus trip to Agra from Delhi to see Taj Mahal, I had made friends with almost all co-passengers by noon. Young Mohammed told me he was a farmer from Gujarat and I hugged him. I have huge respect for farmers. “How come you speak fluent English in western style?” I asked and his wife replied, “We studied in Britain.”
One Nair of Kerala took the role of a guide and explained all he knew about Delhi. An engineer’s family wanted me to click photos repeatedly and my irritated wife gave me a sly look.
We noticed two young western girls sticking to themselves. When the driver announced a short break for purchases, I casually told one of them, “Return fast or we will leave you here.” They giggled and we introduced each other while entering a shop. Both were Americans, one of Indian origin. “I am a nutrition specialist,” said Jennifer, while Renuka said she was a media student. “Hey mediaaa! Join my gang,” I screamed in excitement prompting a shopkeeper to give a “get out” look. Plain jealousy seeing three youngsters chatting merrily!
Air passengers are perceived as unfriendly, but I had a different experience. On my flight from Delhi to Mumbai, the plane experienced turbulence. I was stunned by the shaking of the plane. An old woman sitting next consoled me, “Don’t worry, we will not die.” I reacted, “I have seen more turbulence at home,” only to get a painful pinch from my wife.
A passenger on the front seat turned and I asked him, “Are you worried too?”
He smiled and replied: “I just remembered my mother-in-law was supposed to accompany me.”