Tuesday 1 March 2011

Too much of a slave to imagination

People say that students of literature and the like are given to too much to imagination and fantasies. Well, I won't deny that but at the same time I would also say that it is a sweeping generalisation. One such imagination for me is when I undertake travelling of any kind. Whenever I board a bus/train or flight, I always imagine that I will meet interesting people and have conversations which would stimulate and excite me. Well . . . I guess I imagine and fantasise a bit too much.

Last night, I travelled by train. The passengers who were with me did not even smile at me. I was bit hesitant to make conversation as I thought that all of them did not want to be disturbed. And to top it all, all of them have their mobile phones and laptops to keep them company.

This morning, as I was waiting to get off the train, the man who was with me in the same compartment started talking to me. And we found out that he had gone to the same College as me and also belonged to the same department. Bang, we started . . . but alas! we had very less time. His words still ring clear: "Gosh, I should have spoken to you last night. These days people don't want to be disturbed and so I didn't talk to you." I wish he had spoken. How often we assume so many things but the assumption is not without a grain of truth. People do not want to be disturbed. Gone are the days when travel meant sharing stories, food, addresses and other things. I know of some people who have fallen in love while travelling in trains. These days everyone is in their own world either fidgeting with their mobiles or tapping away in their palm/laptops.

Coming to imagination, as I mentioned earlier, I used to be excited to travel as it involved meeting new people but I guess I should curb that imagination and be practical. But a sliver of hope still runs within me. I shall not give up. Some of my flight journeys also have been quite boring as the fellow passengers don't much talk. They don't even smile. Well, I sometimes think that I have to take off my rose-tinted glasses when it comes to travelling but I will not do it anytime soon.

Travel tales, anyone. What kind of a passenger are you? Do you like to talk or do you prefer being cocooned in your make belief world ignoring the other passengers?

Image: Internet


  1. I enjoy talking to others while traveling. I love adventure and new places and meeting others. Well Susan you and I should travel together one day

  2. I too always hope to meet interesting people while and travel. But hmm.. I always carry a book with me when I travel. I usually read.. I don't talk much. I wait for a first 10mins if people seem cold I am happy in my own world!

  3. Put a sign on yourself that reads "I am open to conversations' as I am not.

    Cheers A

  4. Couldn't agree with you more, Sus. Part of the excitement in traveling (of anything, actually, if you think about it) is meeting new people. But as you've said, people now have exclusive relationships with their gadgets. I remember being in a cafe one time and there were 4 people in one table, barely conversing, just focused on their lappies.

    But back to traveling, as a guy, it's harder to strike small talk. People usually have their guard up in public transport and would tend to suspect men more than women. So I'm always careful about that. Aside from our gadget obsession, we also have our paranoias.

  5. Oh dear Susan, be happy you are not in Denmark, and I am sure Elizabeth will agree.
    Just yesterday we discussed the mentality of the Scandinavians (no offense), which is very reserved and apprehensive. I recall my parents were shocked when they used the public transportation system for the first time after our emigration to Sweden. It was dead quiet. One could hear a pin drop.
    Today am used to it and in some way prefer it. I am a warm person, but at times I enjoy being a private person and if I had to commute publicly every day, I would probably also not want to be disturbed.
    With that said though, if I travel on a journey, particularly on a plane and have to sit next to a stranger, it feels utterly ridiculous not to strike up a conversation, considering the near physical proximity to another human being. It would be almost rude not to.;)
    So I guess it all depends on the situation for me.;)
    But i applaud your decision, wish there would be more the likes of you around.;)
    And not to worry, it would take something really drastic for me to stop blogging.;) It is my drug and my creative outlet and I love it.;) So you are stuck with me dear friend.;)

  6. On one hand, I would love to meet new people because that is where the excitement in travelling is. But on the other, I may also love to just be cocooned in my own world because you will never what sort of people you're going to initiate the conversation with. So, I'm a little of both actually. Thanks for sharing Susan.:)

  7. Sometimes you have to bite the bullet and just start the conversation.

    You said it yourself "Gosh, I should have spoken to you last night. These days people don't want to be disturbed and so I didn't talk to you."

    I travel lots and I am one of those with the mobile and the laptop but there is rarely a day that goes by that I do not strike up a conversation with someone on my travels. A smile always lights up a room and invites a conversation as does doing something invariably silly but then I am slightly goofy :D

  8. As Zuzana already said there are tales to tell when one lives in Denmark. For instance yesterday. I went with a girlfriend to a cafe. We were earlier for our morning tea so we had to wait. She is Canadian, I'm Dutch, we both don't feel the need to converse in Danish and prefer English. So we were happily talking to one another, all the other people were SILENT. Than comes in an Australian man, we both have never met him before, and within 3 seconds we had the most lovely chitchat. Later we stood in line together and he even apologized that he couldn't come sit with us because he had to do some business on the phone. When he left, he first came over to say goodbye. My girlfriend and I were in SHOCK about the grand canyon of difference in social behaviour.
    Zuzana and I live in a country where say hello to a stranger is already a MAJOR thing. Yes, I do feel deprived of what I call normal social behaviour but it has nothing to do with gadgets.

    To end this long comment on a positiv note. I met my husband on a train!!!! You can be sure if you are sitting next to me in a train, bus or plane the chance for a conversation is LARGE.

    Have fun today and smile it makes the world a little bit brighter.

  9. It's all about the approach really. Most people don't make themselves easily approachable by others. While on a journey, i sometimes go out of my way to strike a conversations with a co-passenger.

    It all depends on the mood and feel of the moment.

    Come to think of it...strangers can become friends.

  10. I am not a person to initiate conversation...but that's because I am socially anxious. However, if someone else starts to talk to me, I'll gladly converse. I remember the last time when I flew to India...on my flight from Sydney to Singapore, I was seated next to another young girl and an elderly gentleman and we did talk occassionally during the flight. She was German and the bloke was Dutch and it was quite interesting to get to know a bit about both of them and their countries. So yeah, I'm not averse to conversing...but I don't start the conversation...

  11. i am probably not the guy you want to sit next to...i will talk to any one about anything....really...and i love traveling...

  12. I love travelling and making new friends. I think the best way to start a conversation and make friends is to just give them a small smile. Many of conversations during my travel started with a smile. As you mentioned ma'am, very less people smile at us. We ourselves should take the initiation. People would then reply back with a smile and then conversations start.....

  13. Personally, I love talking to people when traveling, especially when I'm in new territory. This post reminded me of a number of the interesting little conversations I've had with people from as close to my home as Sarasota, Florida, to as far away as Venice.

    It's good that you don't intend to give up. It's because of an attitude like that that I still, thankfully, have people to talk to during long trips. Groovy blog! I'm glad I found it. *subscribes*

  14. I have mixed feelings on this one. I am rarely the first to strike conversation in any forum but I don't mind people coming to talk to me. However sometimes you wish the other person would shut up. As an African, whenever I have traveled abroad I have had to answer many 'silly' questions about Africa from people who assume Africa is just a jungle with refugees and people dying from hunger. But I have also made friends with people who I chatted with on a journey so for me it is all about what we are chatting about. Another great post from you Deborah

  15. We travel often, and meet wonderful people who have become lifetime friends.
    But while I'm on a 12 hour place flight, apart from civil courtesies, don't chatter to me. So I won't start a conversation on a plane, because I need to close off and endure the flight alone.
    But anywhere else, let's go for it. I'm pretty easy to talk with , but never on a plane!
    Then there is the hairy flight into a high wind Wellington airport, passengers not talking, gripping there seats tightly, and the toilet door flew open banging loudly. The supposed explosion on board got everyone talking to each other in relief they weren't going down into the sea.

  16. I'm a chatter, myself, but lately I'm hesitant and more timid about approaching others. I feel like people are really in their own space with their gadgets and they just don't want to be interrupted. The funny thing is... like you mentioned... sometimes people do want to talk but they also have the same inhibition that prevents us from speaking... they don't want to interrupt others. It kind of makes you want to just plunge into it, sometimes. But then, I'm shy of being turned away. I think maybe I'm too sensitive... afraid I'll have my feelings hurt if someone just tells me to leave them alone.

    What a confusing place to be, sometimes, isn't it? When I was a child, I didn't pause to think about such things. I spoke when I felt like it, and life was much less complicated. But, we grow up and we think about others' feelings, too. What brightness if we could just all talk and smile and enjoy!

    I love traveling by train, by the way. There is no more wonderful way to travel, is there?

    I'm going to go make some warm tea in a bit... and dream about going somewhere lovely by train. Thank you for implanting the thought, dear Susan! :-)


  17. I hear you!
    what I've learned that if you feel a certain way, chances are that most people feel the same so...keep your rose colored glasses on and smile!

    I'll smile with you :)

  18. Susan,

    It has been a while since I traveled anywhere, come to think about it, so if I had the chance, whether by train, plane, boat, or yak- LOL, I would probably want to snuggle up and stare off into the scenery that was unfolding before me.

    I guess being a Mom with two little girls constantly chattering away and needing you (which don't get me wrong - I truly love it!) but a break from all that directed attention for a short bit to just be and use my imagination to wonder what was waiting for me at the other end of my journey, might make for a lovely time. So no talking please.

    At least wait until the return trip home. Then I will be more than happy to entertain a conversation.

    However, I would not spend my travel time on the phone or laptop either. Just quiet. You miss all the good stuff when you are plugged in.

  19. Susan, Just a note to let you know I'm okay, just superbly busy. Sorry to have been so rude to vanish like I did. I'll explain further soon on a blog post. Thank you so much for being such a good friend to notice my absence. I appreciate you so much and I miss you.

  20. Dear Susan, this post actually made me sad because I think it's such a shame those adventurous days of sharing while traveling have come to an end for most people. I often have noticed too on the trains or buses that everyone has their ipods on, almost like a safety measure against having to speak to anybody else.

    When I backpacked in my early 20's I loved meeting people and sharing fun stories and laughter...it made the whole experience so memorable.

    I'd chat with you if I met you on a train!:)

    Have a wonderful day and never lose that gift of imagination! It's precious!

  21. Dear Susan,

    I go by "Wordywoman" so we would have a nice, long, intimate chat!!! However, when writing, I need silence!



  22. Susan - I'm a great talker and can easily chat up strangers. However, as I grow older I'm a little hesitant to initiate conversations. However, I do smile at fellow travelers. In India, as you well know, in the 'old' days you had people asking you all sorts of personal questions on the journey! At times it was funny, at other times plain irritating! Recently a fellow traveler and I had a good laugh when we realized that many of the flight stewardesses on Indigo had exactly the same hairstyle. We discussed this and came to the conclusion that they wore wigs! :))
    Happy travelling and be back soon !

  23. That's exactly what happens when you speak to people... you find the most amazing coincidences.
    I am one who likes to talk to people when I travel. In the past I used not to... but ah All I missed then!

    If you are part of the world you must be part of it, so isolating is no gooood!!!

  24. Savira:

    We should, Sav. But when is the question? I hope it is in the near future.


    Even I read when people doze off or are busy. But off late, I don't much read.

  25. AG:

    Ha. What a suggestion! Many are like you, these days :( Sad.


    I hear you when you say that women are wary of men who try making conversation. Well, I seem to possess some unwomanly tendencies. Well, . . . there are exceptions.

  26. Zuzana:

    I found Belgium like that. People don't talk at all and if they do they only whisper. the whole place is like a church in session. Whoa! How I detested that!

    Glad that you blog, dear Zuzana.


    Well, yes, I have my mood swings as well. If I am very sad, I refrain from making conversation. But even that has exceptions. Sometimes when someone talks to me, it helps me to drift away from my emotional state.

  27. SJ:

    I prefer something softer. the bullet is tad hard to bite. A smile is definitely welcome but these days, sadly, no one even smiles. Ah, gald to know that ye are goofy like me :) Goofy buddies, then?


    Ah, I must go to Australia now. But I know an Australian who detests speaking while travelling. You will find his comment in the third entry. His name is Alejandro Guzman.
    I would love to hear your love story some day. Some day, yes.
    Keep smiling and take time to offer a smile to someone who does not have one :)

  28. Blogoratti:

    You are one special person. Cool. Moods definitely play a role, I don't deny that. But sometimes moods change when conversation happens.


    Ahhh. No words now.

  29. PB:

    Socially anxious!! Cool term! So many terms colour today's vocabulary. I guess being a psychologist, you are quite tuned into these words. Hmmm. I hear you when you say that you don't initiate conversations.


    I will galdly sit next to you, any given day :)

  30. Nikhila:

    Sometimes it stops with just a smile. I have sometimes noticed that all that one does is smile, which after a point becomes quite boring.


    Welcome to teh meanderings. Glad to have you join the loop. We love new people and insights. Thanks for your lovely words. They made me smile. Hope to see more of you. Joy always :)

  31. OtienoHongo:

    Yes, yes. I have wished sometimes that the other person would shut us as they rant and rave about their sex lives, loo habits and extravagant spending. I steer away from braggarts who go on non-stop about themselves.
    Been long, OtienoHongo. Hope you are doing well and that life is being kind to you and your family :)


    I was looking forward to your comment as you are an extensive traveller. When the hours of travel are longer, it comes important for me to connect, which is so unlike you. The last flight I was on, the person next to me slept throughout and I was left wondering and amused.

  32. Nevine:

    Nevine, I wish I accidentally met you while on a journey in a train. We would gradually start talking and making connections. How I wish . . .
    Speaking of children, these days even they have their i-pods and video games. How I wish sometimes that mobiles and the like get automatically switched off while travelling.

    Big hugs back to you, dearest Nevine.


    With children, the picture is slightly different. I can imagine you with your kids.
    Even I enjoy those moments of quiet when I stare outside the window and watch the world unfurl.
    Thanks for taking the time to drop by, dear Cole.

  33. Myrna:

    Glad to know that you have been busy, Myrna. Miss your posts :)


    You backpacked? Wow. I would love to do something like that too. WOnder how many stories you have from those days.

    And I would also love chatting back :)

    Thanks for your kind words. They are much appreciated.

  34. Pam:

    I hear you :)


    We change as we advance in years. I wonder how I will be as I grow older. Well, . . .
    Ha ha. What a topic and what a conclusion. You must be one goofy woman. Would love to meet you someday :)

  35. Dulce:

    Isolating is no good, and I completely agree with you on this.

    Hope the week is lovely and fulfilling dear Dulce.

    Joy always :)

  36. In fact, like strangers we meet and in some cases like friends we depart.

  37. Jagdish:

    So very true. Hope you are having a good day till now :)

  38. I haven't been on a train in so long... I love traveling by train. It is my favorite mode of traveling. But I agree that what made the experience unforgettable were the interactions with the other passengers.

  39. Angie:

    I can understand when you say that your travels have become sparse. I wish that you relish train journeys with your loved ones and also enjoy interaction with fellow passengers.



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