I took a walk tonight. I’m trying to map out a regular walking route that doesn’t pass by the ice cream store. So I headed in the opposite direction of my normal ice cream store path. As I walked I listened to my favorite radio show in my iPod and although lost in the conversation, I noticed an older Indian man slowly walking toward me. I smiled and he in smiled in return. I thought nothing else about him until I was closing the loop on my walk and I saw this elderly man again walking toward me. This time I smiled and said, “Ah we meet again.” I figured he’d smile and wave and we’d both be on our way. I don’t know why I think that when it rare happens that way with me.
People talk to me. I should define people better. Strangers talk to me. They always have. They don’t try to befriend me, they don’t harass me or really bother me, they juts talk to me. They tell me things about themselves and sometimes ask about me. It happens at the grocery store, in line at the hardware store, in bars, on buses, in airports and beauty shops and tonight just on the street. After my lighthearted comment, my new found friend stopped and, although I had headphones on, which I thought was the universal sign meaning “don’t talk to me”, asked me, in an almost uninterpretable accent, how long the loop was that I walked. I said that I wasn’t sure and that this was the first time that I’ve taken this route but he asked again, this time more specifically “How many kilometers?” That I definitely didn’t know but said I have been walking for about 45 minutes which he immediately translated into 3 miles. I said “Sure that sounds about right.” and attempted to leave. Then he asked how old I was. To which I replied, “…yes I know I look fantastic.” and expected a chuckle. Instead he asked if I was married. To which I replied, “no” and of course he then asked “why” and I replied “why not?”. I figured this would end it all but instead he told me that in Indian culture women get married when they are 20 or 22 and it is odd not to be married after that. Since this man was ancient and had very few good teeth, I humored him and said I just haven’t gotten married. He then asked if I lived nearby and I said down the way a bit. HE asked if I lived alone and I asked him if he was a serial killer which I don;t think I he understood what I meant because he said yes. I hope he didn’t understand what I said because then he asked if I lived alone and he was surprised I did. He asked where my parent were to which I replied in their house. Then of course he asked if I had a job and where that was and he seemed impressed with my answers. When my mother asks why I’m not married she is never impressed with my answers. She actually seems disgusted. I like this guy already. He then tells me that he has three sons – two in India and one right here on this street. Well alrighty! This man comes here every year for six months to stay with his son and spends the other six months with another son in India. This is his fourth time coming here to the US. Hmm. Interesting. Then he told me two more times “four times here.” Well alrighty again! He says he likes it here and walks everyday. I said “That’s wonderful and perhaps we will meet again but I’ve got to go and finish my walk.” to which he said with even more excitement “four time here!” “Okey Dokey, see you around”, I said as I reattached my headphones and headed off. “Toot-a-loo!”
An encounter like this isn’t even odd or out of the ordinary. A woman at a yard sale told me her family history, a man in a bar told me about his wife and how she died. I’ve heard lots of things from lots of people. Stranger talk to me whenever I go out. I guess I need to get a treadmill.