Monday, November 16, 2009

talking with strangers

Yesterday afternoon, while I was sitting and enjoying my strawberry milk (with sago) behind the ice-cream-truck-looking booth of Mother's Crepe at Morisia, I met two strangers. Actually, they're a total of four but I'm sorting them into two.

Strangers no.1 (Old man with an older lady -- his mom).

These two sat on my left. I was reading that Gilbert book when this 'older lady' distracted me and successfully took my focus away from my reading -- thus, I turned to face her. She was talking incomprehensibly while eating that crumbs of food (or cake) fell on her lap. I did try to decipher and understand a few words but I just lost it. Not to be rude, since she was talking profusely as well (making it impossible for me to say something), I just nodded and pretended to understand her.

Her son, having sensed mom was talking with someone, looked my way and made hand gestures to the right side of his head -- the way you describe someone who is crazy -- suggesting that his mom is not in good condition. He said something in rapid Nihonggo, so I replied '...Nihonggo sukoshi desu' (rough translation: I speak/understand few Nihonggo). He asked, in broken English, as to where I'm from. I said, Philippines.

Our conversation lasted about half an hour with his mom talking to herself between us. He asked me where I learned English and told him that it's almost considered the second language for Filipinos because we were taught with books in English since kindergarten.

To cut the story short: He assumed I worked in a bar or nightclub. As far as I can remember, he's not the first Japanese to stereotype Filipinas as such. I've met strangers before (not in bars) asking what I'm doing in JP. His assumption was probably brought out of ignorance, and he did acknowledge -- judging my outfit -- that I look smart: a huge pimple protruding just between my brows + Converse shoes + a book on hand = NERDY. Our conversation went through about my work, his mom (him, having to take care of her on weekends while on weekdays he brings her to a facility for old people), his family, and my on-going Nihonggo lessons. All ended when his mom started mumbling words of wanting to go home. They left and few seconds after, I met strangers no.2.

Strangers no.2 (A young mother and a baby)

They were at my right. They were sitting at my right all along -- close enough to hear my conversation with 'strangers no.1'. Young mom was feeding ice cream to her daughter when she commented on my English that it was good. I thanked her and said that hers was good, too. I added, 'it sounds American'. I asked if she studied there to which she confirmed as having stayed there five (5) years. I was expecting nothing to follow after that but she narrated her story of not having much friends because she stays home taking care of her babies (she also has a 2 month old infant). Our conversation was cut short because her daughter finished the ice cream so quickly that it was time for them to go. Before we said goodbyes, we exchanged formal introductions.

...Then they came back. She asked for my number saying that she'd love to talk to me someday to which I gladly gave. I added that I could have someone to practice my Nihonggo with. So, we exchanged numbers and emails...and hope our story doesn't end there.


Nashe^ said...

I seriously hope that story doesn't end there either. Meeting new people in foreign lands is definitely something I miss doing! :(

Wednesday said...

that must've been surreal. i love talking to strangers, but most of the people here in manila can be aloof and prejudgmental. :|

Carine said...

This is why life is so good, there's always a surprise round the corner !

Jason said...

yeah, i agree with Wednesday - can't seem to gather enough courage to make small talk with Pinoys, in a Starbucks-friendly way. but i find it easier when i'm in a foreign country.

amor said...

awww..but anyway, the world of internet will do for now. =)

I know. People have become too wary and distrustful to strangers in our country. Maybe due to bad experiences we've heard from others and media. Swindling, etal.

It was unexpected. I was just sitting there w/ my book and the next thing i knew i was listening to their stories..