Tag Archives: strangers

when chatting to strangers what do u ask them?

21 Jul

london 6.28pm 21C sunny friday 2017

i came across this article in my wordpress feed, about what to ask strangers to get a conversation going with them. i was surprised when it says americans like to ask what work you do, but the french dont like that question.

it reminded me of the chat i had with this american family the other day in chinatown whilst looking at the wong kei menu in their window display. we chatted about food. which it seems is a safe topic to talk about with strangers.

the british of course talk of the weather. that is a safe topic and always get strangers talking.

i like asking people what they do for a living, and also where they are from, but it seems those are quite sensitive topics nowadays …it seems the french will shut u down if u ask them what they do for a living. they prefer u to ask about where they will be going for their holidays. not something we ask in s.e.asia.  

but asking someone what their work is, or where they are from are common questions when u talk to strangers when in s.e.asia. at least during my time there. and if it is a woman, she will ask you if u are married. and if u are, the next question will be if u have children. haha.

i now i say i am retired, and they always ask what i was before. i think it natural to find out what a person’s work is or was.  i think for people of my generation work looms large in our lives and we may feel we are defined by it, even if that is now being frowned on by the young generation.

i think with us oldies, we like to find out more about that person, rather than just exchange inanities, and platitudes. and our curiosity can appear to be rather intrusive and prying.  we think it a waste of time to just exchange inanities. we want and are curious about what that person is. with the idea of fixing them in the social scale, or wealth (or lack of it) scale.

i have a feeling that in the past, if u see a stranger, it is there to determine if that person will be friend or foe. someone u can ask to do things for you, and support you, or sell to, or   a burden or someone who will want to exploit you… but today,  that may no more be the case and we just want to connect with another human being and be made to feel good about ourselves and make them feel good too.

in a way, it is the same when we write in our blogs. we are chatting to strangers, and so that might explain why there are so many blogs talking of food. it is a safe topic amongst strangers. and maybe why personal blogs are not common. when u talk of your work in a blog, it becomes dangerous, in that u might be talking of an employer and what u think of him or her, who might be reading your blog… so i can understand why so many steer clear of that topic. but you might be saying, surely in a conversation with strangers that does not apply… it would be a strange coincidence if they turn out to know your boss… haha. but still no one likes to talk too intimately about what they do. they certainly will not tell you where they work. not something u want to share with strangers.

added. 9.21pm. i said that people dont want to share too much with strangers, but i remember when i was in usa in the 90s, i found the americans love to tell you about their mental health. they will tell you they are seeing their therapist. to americans that is so ordinary, it seems everyone has a therapist they go to, that no one feels embarrassed about seeing one. is that still the case nowadays? or is it just the people i happen to meet with… it was gay new yorkers and gay san franciscans/los angeles that i meet with. maybe in those days people still have issues with being gay… and so they as a group might go to therapists more . 

nothing to rant about

12 Jan


I have been looking around to see what will fill my time. Most of the time, i read, or go on the internet, and swim, or go to the library, but i have borrowed so many books from the library that i thought i better not go so often , or if i do, not to borrow books; or i shall borrow even more books and i just could not read them fast enough.

Another way to while away the time is to go grocery shopping, but i have allready bought enough, more than i can finish so no point going to the supermarket.

So I thought i shall take the bus and wander around soho, and pop into the chinese grocery stores to see if there are any reductions. or to buy staple items but I have allready bought all i need. i dont know where else to hang around. Long ago, i used to hang around old compton st, the gay part of soho, sit in the coffee shops and chat to people who are sitting nearby. It was quite cheap to do so, until they start putting up the price of coffee, and cakes, and so even less local people hang around there; only tourists do so now. And though it is nice to meet visitors, they are here only for a few days whilst what we want is to make friends who live here. long ago when coffee was cheaper u get locals who are regulars in the coffee shops in old compton  st, and you can always see them to chat with if u happen to pass by. not any more. I suppose u could say i was one of the regulars, but i have stopped going, and i daresay so have all the other regulars.

now, i get small mishaps in my life to keep me occupied. recently, we bought a 40inch tv screen, but it developed a problem. without any reason, it would say there is no signal. I thought our aeriel was acting up and dropped by the local housing estate office to tell them to get the engineer to look at it. They made an appointment for the engineer to come to my flat . he did not come, but luckily, simon fiddled with the lead that connect with the aeriel socket and the picture came on. so that was how we found out it was the lead that they supply with the tv to connect to the aeriel socket. We should have guessed it is not the aeriel, because we asked our downstairs neighbour and she said she have no trouble with the tv transmission.

We often hear of old people ranting and raving when things go wrong, and complaining at the slowness of the engineers to come and fix it. Well, all i can say is i am glad i did not make a fuss. haha it would be terribly embarrassing to have the engineer come and find this. it is like some old fart forgetting to switch on the tv and complaining it does not work. 

so now the tv works fine, and i am enjoying seeing the films again with the added novelty of this bigger screen. there are a lot of repeats nowadays. It’s not so much fun to see old films as they only fill up half the screen. 

Added. simon tells me he had found out from someone he was chatting to online that the screen we got is not the one he bought. it is not a smart tv. that is why it wont take a dongle and connect to the internet for him to get bbc iplayer which will enable him to get the high definition program. 

Talking of this urge to chat with people, we hear so much of that about old people being isolated and have no one to chat to, but i have realised that it isn’t so much no one to chat to, but no one that we like to chat to. that is harder to find. Ah well, just as well we gay people have the internet and gay websites to get in contact with other gay guys. I recently sent a message to a guy who lives in manchester and who i thought looked rather sexy and he is interested in jacking off too. jacking off is something that i thought i shall get interested in again. Normally if someone is not in london, i would not have bothered , but he did say in his profile that he comes often to london. and just now he sent me a message saying he will here visiting london on feb13th. so that would be  nice to meet up and get to know each other. thank goodness for being gay. dont you think? it is real easy to meet other gay guys.

I like to chat with people and often do with strangers i meet on the bus or waiting in the bus stop or just on the street. I like being on my own, but sometimes i like interacting with other people. i prefer these casual contacts rather than have a friend. partly because i dont like to arrange to meet , i like the casual , accidental meets with strangers. 

that was what i was doing when i chatted with a guy in the same gay website . he is a belgium guy who comes to visit london 4/5 times in a year. he said he stays with friends and they keep busy doing things. so i asked him what he do, as i thought i might get some ideas from him. he said they walk, go on daytrips, give dinners. (not very useful things to me as i dont fancy any of that) and he says i sound lonely and wonders if i am.

I suppose i might give others the impression that i am lonely, when i told him i was wandering around soho and suggested to him that it would be nice to  meet up for a coffee  in soho when he is here in london. I replied to him I am not lonely, but i do miss my young days when i would have friends hang around the coffee shop in old compton st, and we would invariably find one of us there whenever we go to soho, and so always have company. and also we are able to meet and make friends on a casual basis with other gay guys there who hang out in all hours like us. it was a lovely time i remember. it does not happen anymore. 

I think the internet may well account for that , not many of us now hang around coffee shops in soho, because we can make contact via the gay network. maybe it is something you do when you are young. Not to mention when you are young more people are attracted to you physically and you get approached more often, or if u approach someone you often than not get welcomed or get an encouraging response.

The thing about going old is that you realise so many things in your youth will not come again. I was seeing a tv program about the songs of the 70s, and saw the carpenters singing ‘close to you’, and 10cc singing ‘another love’, and realise those feelings that the songs evoked in me will not be retrieved by anything sung nowadays. I doubt any of the songs now will evoke the same feelings in me years from now.