The Familiar Stranger

Traveling is not just about places. Sometimes, unexpected bonding with strangers makes the trip even more memorable! Here are some of my favorite ‘people I remember’ stories.


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An ageless spirit

I met her at a hostel in the small town of Vevey, Switzerland. Loud, enthusiastic, and energetic, she befriended people easily. After hearing some hilarious anecdotes of her hitch-hiking adventures, I saw how age is just a number! During our spontaneous day-trip to her village to meet her two dogs, I marveled at her feminist ideologies. A rare combination of grace and boldness, she inspired a never-settle-for-mediocre attitude.

The bubbly lady

She lugged around a bucket of soap water in a park in Barcelona, looking for a good spot. “That’s my meditation”, she said while blowing those huge soap bubbles. In the next ten minutes, I learned the art of pinching off the bubble, while she spoke of politics and science, and complained of the tourists who barely glanced outside the camera lens. It reminded me once again that wisdom can spring from unexpected places.

The high-spirited driver

Cycle rickshaws, with their colorful lights, are a popular and fun mode of transport in summers in Munich. On one such evening after visiting a fair, my friend and I decided to take one to a park close by. This sporting rickshaw-cyclist agreed to my fun idea of giving us a ride in exchange for a beer, instead of the much more expensive actual cost. I loved his spirit; the way he enjoyed his work, rather than treating it as a hardcore job. A big shout out to the driver and his blue-lights rickshaw!

The innocent dancer

She danced happily on the street near some roadside cafe en-route Delhi to Agra. Between her performance breaks, she greeted passers-by with the minimal English she had been taught to impress. When I asked her for a picture, she immediately struck this dancer pose. Then, like every woman of her (or any) age, she enthusiastically checked how the picture turned out. The innocence and grace of the young dancer was a refreshing start to my day!

Have you experienced a kind gesture, a soul-stirring conversation,  or simply a happy moment with a stranger?


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