Thursday, January 20, 2005

Don't talk to strangers!

Me: There are too many men on this train!

Marita: NOW, you're complaining??

* * * * *

We are on the train in K.L. on our way to a work appointment. I'm feeling all giddy about being on a train (because there are no trains in Sarawaklah), so I decide that I want to talk a stranger.

First, I smile broadly at everyone in sight. Almost everyone else ignores me, except for the nice older Malay man who gives me a tentative smile.

Then, I turn to the first guy who's next to me, and the following is the stuff of scintillating conversations I usually have with total strangers:

Me: Hi!

Tall, bald guy: Hello.

Me: So... off to work?

TBG: Yes.

Me: *silence*

TBG: Where are you heading?

Me: To the zoo!


TBG: Where are you from?

Me: Oh! I'm local but not from here.

TBG: *stare*

Me: Er, I mean I'm from Sarawak. ha haa.

TBG: Are you still studying?

Me: *indignant* NO. I'm working now.

TBG: Where do you work?

Me: *mumble, mumble, getting a bit uncomfortable* oh, I work for an ngo... *trails off*

Me: So what do you do?

TBG: *talks about his job*

Me: *kinda bored*

TBG: *talks more about his job*

Me: : *stops listening, and am staring with fascination with his smooth, bald head*

TBG: oh, this is my stop - here's my card - call me!

Me: *ha ha ha - yeah, right*

* * * * * *

Yeah, I'm terrible.

I mean, he was pretty cute (and tall!) but honestly, who picks up a total stranger? He could be an ax-murderer for all I know. Yeah, I definitely kept that in mind when I gave my phone number to the other potential ax-murderer who picked me up in the mall. Gosh, I'm so smart. One thing about K.L. though that I don't mind, the men are a lot more up-front than the men here..... who don't do nothing, I tell you.


At 9:44 PM, Blogger Dee M said...

*nods head in agreement*.Either do nothing or assumes that you can read what is in their mind.

At 11:21 PM, Blogger sativa said...

Well, at least the dude is nice enough to actually have a conversation with you. That's kinda nice though boring.

At 12:38 AM, Blogger mac said...

I have had a similar experience. I went on a bus trip to N Sembilan one time in college and had a really nice chat with the girl next to me all the way from Pudu to Port Dickson.

I can't remember who started it. Possibly me.

And by the way, when you say men shouldn't do nothing, what do you mean by that ?

Are you saying that men should be more outspoken and go up and talk to you ? If so, until what point because I have tried this before in KL and all I got was a dirty look.

When does it become creepy ?

Personally, I can't really do this because I worry that I creep people out and being shot down in public is not my idea of fun.

Anyway, it takes great confidence to go up and talk to strangers. Many people don't have this confidence and that's why some people never try it. Not because they are aloof or snobby.

Maybe I'm wrong to say, but that's just my opinion.

I hope you had a nice trip.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Chet said...

>> When does it become creepy?

When it's a person of the opposite sex and you ask too many personal questions.

Do you talk only to people of the opposite sex, and who are on their own?

If you're really looking for someone to talk to, then consider talking to mums with kids. Start with catching the kid's attention and smiling at them. I find that mothers love it when strangers find their kids cute, etc. It's a way to start a conversation.

I remember being on the bus in LA one time. This woman got on with her son who was carrying something with the Lion King logo on it. I think the play was on in LA at the time. So I got the kid's attention, pointed to the Lion King stuff, said it was nice and asked if he'd just been to see the play. From there, the mother got into the conversation, asked if I'd been to see it, etc. I was rather sad when I had to get off at my stop cuz we were having a nice chat. :)

At 11:20 AM, Blogger Cayce said...

dee m: :-)

sativa: i think most people would carry on a conversation, nevertheless. after all, standing on a train staring at the passing scenery is boring enough.

mac: *get back to you*

chet: yeah - it's so much easier to talk to strangers in countries like the States, Canada, Australia, etc. I've always find conversations like these fun. The guy in the train though, I think he thought I wanted to pick him up - that's why I became rather shy halfway throughout. Enough with the personal questions - just talk about something more generic!

At 5:33 PM, Blogger cabiria said...

hey! you DID start talking to TBG in the first place!!!!
I had forgotten about creepy peoplein KL. Yesterday I arrived quite late, had a shower and went out to around the corner for beef noodles. on my way back some guy starts to yelling HELLO! HELLO! and I'm ignoring, cause past midnight it cannot be good. SO I keep walking and doesnt even look up. Then I stop for a bit to light up a cigarette and hear HELLO! again! the guy, totally nod held bac by me ignoring him, was following me!!! comes close and asks me for a drink!
EW, EW and EW!
That was SO CREEPY!

At 9:18 AM, Blogger Bertha said...

Don't try it in London. Most people will either think you're mad, or trying to ask for money. Seriously. Besides, you'll mostly just be ignored. I've done that - ignore people, I mean, not start conversations. Most people on public transports are too hassled to get to where they're going to stop and chat anyway. :)

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Chet said...

>> Don't try it in London.

I was going to say maybe with the elderly people, but then I realise Chinese aren't very trusted there, and we may be mistaken for wanting to mug the poor dears instead of justing wanting to chat with them.

Let me see *thinking real hard* Did I ever start a conversation while on the Tube with anyone?

I can't remember. Sorry.

Re: 1st para *points above* maybe if you're female, it's okay.

At 7:22 PM, Blogger Bertha said...

Chet: the Chinese aren't trusted in London?? I disagree, but I think that's a whole other issue. :) The whole 'not talking to people in the tube' business is more directed towards the stoicity of Londoners and how everyone's always rushing to get somewhere so they're less likely to bother and stop to chat. I know when I'm on the tube, I'm too hassled anyway or reading my book or listening to my iPod.

But elderly people will start conversations, and I'm fine with that. I think our (or at least my) guard tends to be down with elderly people.

At 9:06 PM, Blogger Chet said...

>> Chet: the Chinese aren't trusted in London?? I disagree ...

Er ... well, it's almost 20 years since I was last there. Maybe I should visit soon and get an update.

At 10:26 PM, Blogger bayibhyap said...

I don't think he was trying to pick you up. You started the conversation, remember? Giving a card is as common as they come. I talk to strangers in KL and elsewhere too, and with quite a lot of success. Sometimes I offer my card but I don't pick up anyone. *Perhaps I've been wrong. Some people might have thought that I was trying to pick them up...*

At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>>Er ... well, it's almost 20 years since I was last there. Maybe I should visit soon and get an update.

You should! :) The Chinese are part of a thriving community now, part of the comopolitan city.


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