Friday, October 8, 2010

People talk

Striking up a conversation with a stranger in Sweden is like an urban myth. Widely considered plausible, theoretically it might even be said to be entirely normal, but it never actually happens. Things might be different in the (allegedly existent) extremely remote rural areas, where there's no such thing as a stranger anyway. But if you're in any kind of semblance of a town in Sweden, chances are people do their best to stay in their own nice bubble.

Here, though... it's completely different, even in a decent sized city like this one, of more than 300, 000 inhabitants. Ever seen a movie where characters just randomly meet somewhere like a gas station, start chatting and somehow become friends? Ridiculously unrealistic, right? Well that's what people are like here. You're trapped in an elevator with someone, they go on and on about how they went to the wrong floor. If you go to Walmart, the cashier thanks you for not being on your phone and complains about the rudeness of her last customer. The nice lady sitting next to you at a Bob Dylan concert will inform you that Dylan is a legend (like you didn't know!) and lend you her binoculars.

It's like people here automatically switch on whenever they're in the close proximity of someone else. It's so normal to make small talk to any and everyone.

I am somewhat quiet even by Swedish standards. Here I am basically mute.

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