Sometime back I had written about the joy of conversations, how only a few are good at it, most others stutter & there is nothing but awkward silence between strained words… When was the last time you had an interesting conversation with a stranger? Or someone you met online? If you spend more than a few seconds thinking, then let’s just say it has been long…

I love initiating conversations, and when it is welcomed by the other person and takes off from there, the joy I experience is something different. It needs to be experienced, cannot explain it in words.

Being a freelancer, I work from home most of the time and so don’t really have the opportunity to interact with strangers, unless I am doing that on twitter or Instagram or through comments on the blog… There are quite a few with who I have had some amazing conversations & we never run out of things to talk about, some have become good friends and some more…But then have also come across people who are stumped from the word hi. With them, you cannot have anything.. Say bye and move on…

Over the years, during my trips, have had conversations with fellow travellers I meet, or random people in a café [ they might have been reading a book I was curious about], or just to ask about the town, etc.. I don’t hesitate and don’t think too much before starting off with a smile & a Hello..

Since this lockdown began, I have had quite a few interesting conversations with strangers, people who continue to remain strangers. Wondering what or how? Well, thanks to a certain someone, I discovered this concept called Halfday someone on Instagram and subsequently found their website as well. I noticed they post updates with a theme/topic, date, and time, and welcome registrations from those interested in being a part of the discussion. Are you with me so far?

Here is where it gets interesting.. You go online, sign up , register [for now there is no fee], and you receive whatsapp message with details of the call – the date, time and instructions. You then join the call [ on zoom] and spend the next 30-45mins chatting with strangers on the chosen topic.

What is special about this concept? You are completely anonymous, and so are the others on the call. How cool, right? Yep! You choose a pseudonym [favourite colour, drink, season, etc], video is Off and through the session you chit chat with the others, share your stories, exchange insights/tips/ just about anything relevant to the topic and sign off with a bye. There is a moderator/host who moderates the session, and we take turns sharing a story and if there is time to spare after all have shared, there is some chit chat around the topic/more stories shared.

It has been quite exciting; I look forward to the sessions and wonder if there would be any repeat participants. Of the handful that I have participated in, there were a few familiar voices. It is amusing listening to people recognize others, and then try to rehash from memory the session they were a part of, but at the same time it gets a little irritating cos the current session timer runs and we lose out on precious time cos of this chit chat.. But well, people will be people, and they are constantly looking for a connection, something to reach out to.

A few days back we had a session where the topic was “adventures in life” – you could share literal adventures [rafting, skydiving, trek, scuba diving or other adventures- taking a risk with a job, starting something on your own, etc etc..” and on this session there was a girl who shared her story on scuba diving, the difference between doing it in Andaman vs. abroad… A few minutes later, another guy spoke about his scuba diving experience in Andaman…. Instead of letting the guy talk freely, the girl kept butting in with the name of the company, location, name of the person, her experience, her opinions etc etc… I thought that was rude – interrupting someone when they are sharing and interjecting with personal comments.

A few hours ago, a friend called, I know him through an online platform, been a year+ now, and we have few common interests- books, theater, and travel. Today’s call was mostly about the books he has just finished writing, and how there are ways & means of introducing a new concept to people, and getting them curious/interested.. He kept giving excuses/reasons, I kept slamming them down with ways around them.. It was fun, we both had points to share and finally signed off with him promising to nudge people to do more..

Today I am running a poll on twitter about this, and it is heartwarming to see around 60% vote for “enjoy it” while 14.3% have said they were wary of strangers and so don’t initiate conversations, and 28.6% have said they are curious, but wondering how to start…

Well, if you are wondering how to initiate a conversation with a stranger,

  • If online- just start with a comment on something they have shared – photo, news, opinion… Ask open-ended questions, initiate a discussion.. It is also a good way to network~
  • If in-person, make eye contact, smile, and say hello. It is quite easy if you are on a bus/train/cab/flight…

And if you come upon my profile on Twitter/Instagram, do drop a hello, would love to hear from you.. [my handle is talesfromaaroo]

Interesting article – worth a read