What we find exotic abroad may be what we hunger for in vain at home (Alain de Botton). So at the end of October, I left my hometown for the Baltic country known as Estonia. I was searching for a ‘winter’ region to meet winter circumstances. I packed my bike, my camping stuff including a tent and a thermos, and more socks than usual for a trip of one week. I first enjoyed the capital Tallinn with all it included. I experienced sophisticated open-minded people, excellent food and Italian-quality coffees. I came across beautiful Nordic houses and old temporary housing blocks of Russian design, and saw many remnants of historical suppression. Nevertheless, the Estonian mentality is another thing. This Nordic tribe people make something of their self-sufficient lives and their proud country! They have truly impressed me!
It was then time to head out. The wind took me to the Lahemaa National Park, where encountering the Eurasian Elks made my day perfect. And yeah, it did rain the whole day! Probably the reason why I was the only guest in the huge guesthouse in Loksa. The touristic season was long gone. Turning south was turning into fierce Estonian headwind for many many hours to come. I was so dead that I couldn’t make my tent my home and treated myself with an apartment in Tartu. However, after many hours of wind blowing straight into my nostrils accompanied with all kinds of rain, I saw the sun for few minutes at the end of the daylight, which is like very early in the afternoon there! It was one of the finest things I saw that day! One night, I stayed in this so-cool farm in the middle of nowhere. Never seen such a lively organic farm with marvelous people (and two playful kittens)! Perfect stuff for fairy tales)! Just living the dream! Check them out if you’re around (or here or find something else on WOOFF)! My last days were filled drying up in the southern county of Põlvamaa, bordering Russia. I really enjoyed wandering around in the Meenikunno Bog with cranberries floating on top of the peat along the hiking trail. The Pavlova dessert was one of the best aftertastes of this short cycling stay in a fabulous ‘exotic’ country.
Once upon a time, we were all strangers to each other. Throughout our lives, we tag the people we meet on a regular basis as either friends or acquaintances. Apart from our families, we share a big part of our social life with these human beings. We love and like, we laugh and cry, we eat and drink, we commute and travel to exotic places among many many other things. All these events are meaningful to us, and by doing so we get to know ourselves and the people around us. Raised with the concept that family and a bunch of friends are paramount for a happy life, most of us put effort into having and maintaining these social synergies. Anyway, the weird thing happened to me when I was younger. Listening to unheard music, interacting with unknown people, or spending time in a different culture than the one used to, seemed to me very captivating. I didn’t know why of course.
When getting older, I figured out two things about talking to people you don’t really know. First, talking to strangers isn’t something considered to be a normal social activity. At least in my Western surroundings, people aren’t familiar with small talk in places different than a pub at midnight when lightly intoxicated. In the process of conversing with unknown people, you learn to decipher faces showing all forms of skepticism! You see people thinking ‘Is he a bohemian!?’, or ‘Did he drink a distilled beverage just after sunset?’ Second, if the attempt is successful, talking to strangers is an amazing instrument to get to know yourself and that pleasing person you’re talking to. So nowadays, I do try to talk to strangers. I often start with a stupid joke. It takes a while before someone is actually responding to me (maybe I should change strategy in approaching same-species individuals). Anyway, if good luck comes along, I’m a happy person. My initial intention is always just to have fun! There’s often something very refreshing about it. In addition, and now it’s getting a bit more sophisticated, when combining lyrics of my favourite musicians with the concept of talking to strangers, I figured out that it’s a powerful instrument to observe what I actually feel about something I’m struggling with or about something I didn’t think of in the first place. I’m a slow person in the sense of progressive personal thinking. I need time. I use everything. And to accelerate creating actual thoughts, talking to strangers is an astonishing tool.
A beautiful stranger I met long time ago in the UK, gave me a badge and a small leaflet she came across the other day. I received the gift from London with both hands! So I encountered the idea of talking to strangers being put into an organisation with a website and people with similar experiences. As I believe this perception can be a strong one when tried during daily life or travelling, I want to share it with you. How kind of me!