Everyone has a story. I don’t care who you are, whether you are rich or poor, whether you are educated or not, whether you work in an office building or sweep the street, whether you live in a mansion or under a bridge, you have a story. And it is unique to you.
In your home country people often may not take the time or make the effort to ask about you. Perhaps they aren’t interested in your story; you are one of them and they assume you are ordinary, which of course is not true.
I have yet to find anyone who wouldn’t tell me their story. At times it takes a bit of coaxing because people don’t believe they have anything to tell. I have found that there will be a single thread between us that opens up a deluge of information. People will tell their story; they just don’t know how to start.
In a foreign land I have found that people want to know as much about me as I want to know about them. They answer all of my questions as best they can, but eventually, especially if they have been introduced to you, they will ask questions of you; where are you from, they will want to know the town; what do you do there, meaning work; why are you here in their country; do you work here, do you like it here, and so on. Most people are proud of their country.
They may eventually ask your age; whether you are married; if so, how many children do you have, and so on.
They may want to know what it’s like where you come from. Whatever they ask you is quite innocent and more direct than
you may be used to; they have no ulterior motive, or at least rarely if they do. They will likely never see the place where you are from, yet they are curious of things outside their country. Often you will be surprised at how much they know of your country.
In a recent article for you, I wrote about not constantly referring to “back home” if you are traveling. I told you why it is detrimental for you, but today’s thought is that if you want to compare in conversation how things are in your home country with the people of the country you are now in, then do so. The person enquiring about your country genuinely wants you to educate him, otherwise he wouldn’t ask.
If you keep your eyes open you will at times see the way things are done in a foreign country will be simpler and maybe even better than at home. You will realize that your home country has something to learn – even from a country that may not be as advanced as your own.
For example, in Chile I like the pleasant way they set a dinner table, often with two tablecloths, that I have not seen elsewhere. There, I have never been served a skimpy little slice of lemon with a meal; it is always a small bowl or plate of lemons cut in half. If you want more you can have more. The price is the same. No messy fingers, but plenty of juice.
In Switzerland I first experienced sleeping on a bottom sheet only and a comforter (doona) on top. It was comfortable and unrestricting and to this day I like that way of sleeping.
In Argentina I had the best wine I’ve ever had anywhere. It was a bottle of Argentina’s signature wine, Malbec, from a small local vineyard. No international, famous brand, but the best wine.
On the island of Crete I had a meal that included the most fantastic zuchinni, all in the way it was cooked. Zuchinni is way down my list of favourite vegetables, but that night I wanted more.
Those are all very simple things, but very memorable.
Every country you visit will have something to offer you that you may not find at home, yet better in some way. It may even be an idea you can take home.
People Are as Interested in You as You are in Them.
So go ahead, make friendly comparisons with the local people in answer to their questions.
Contributed by Tony Reno ~Tony Reno is an anonymous full time traveler currently somewhere south of the equator.