How are you?
Hey! How are you?
What’s up? How is it going?
Hi there! How are you doing?
Every time I got into an Uber, the cabby would ask me that question. Pleasantries like they say. I would smile, share that I am visiting from India and that it was my first time in Minneapolis. They would be curious about India or share some thing they know of my country and we would chat until it was time for me to get off the cab.
At first, I was hesitant. I was taught to not talk to strangers and here was a man or a woman willing to have that ‘little conversation’. In India, I may check on some one but only when the setting calls for it. May be in a party or a social gathering. But a cab driver? That is not considered safe. What if he is trying to get to my financial status. Is it possible that he thinks of me as rich and then robs me? Fears, like you may say. This culture change surprised me. I wasn’t sure if the person was lending an ear or this was just a ‘talk’.
Two weeks went by in the blink of an eye and I was back home to India.
After any travel, I start looking at things differently. Only to a slight extent but I feel there is a change in my perspective. My one bedroom apartment looks bigger to me. The air feels familiar and the pot holes on the roads appear normal. Even if for a small duration, coming back home gives me that completeness. It’s like quenching thirst. With every sip, there is longing for more until I am full.
Something similar happened after this travel to US. I was looking at things with a different lens. I felt good about work and what I had accomplished.
And then came questions.
When colleagues asked me questions about the trip and how was I doing, I again did not know what to share. About those evenings that I had for myself or the Chicago trip where I left lost? Did they want to know how my meetings went or was it about the food I ate? Was it shopping or walking?
I am sure there is more than just the talk. It could be curiosity, interest to know people from other cultures or friendliness. But I wonder what do people really want to hear when they ask questions? The good or the truth?
Writing for the non-fiction grid at Yeah Write #352 this week.