We all have them, must do lists that we enact even if we aren’t aware of them. That list of things we do to acclimate ourselves in new surroundings. For some, it’s connecting with friends and family, for others it’s seeking out and dining in local restaurants. Apparently these are mine:
– cafes and coffee shops, scouting and frequenting, for writing and people watching in
– grocery store comparative ethnography, which yes, involves registering for a points accrual card
– walking, aimlessly and with purpose — the purpose being to achieve enough of a sense of directionality that any point I know where I am on the imaginary map in my mind. For HP fans, yes it’s my own version of the marauder map and I am the moving dot.
– book stores, for book viewing, greeting card purchasing, conversation having – libraries, not just visiting but signing up for a membership card
– public transportation, for riding to rest my weary feet when I’ve walked too far, and for those accidental encounters like the one last night when an enchanting 4 or 5 year old girl, telling jokes replete with utterly beguiling British inflections, was tugging at my dress and tickling me by the end of our 10-stop-long ride together, much to the embarrassment of her French father. For my part, wary of not wanting to encourage small children’s interactions with strangers, kept my distance but could not help but laugh along at her endless string of “guess why” jokes. In a similar scenario that took place a few years ago in New Orleans, another girl around the same age struck up a conversation with me, en francais, on a hotel elevator and by the end of the 33-floor ride, was inviting me to accompany her and her father on their afternoon visit to the zoo.
And of course, starting to talk like the locals. I can’t really help it if I start my interactions with a friendly Hiya, now can I?