Stranger Encounters: An Uncanny Coincidence
Striking up conversations with strangers has never been my strong suit. As an introverted university student, my natural habitat has always been staying at home.
Practicing for my badminton tournament, I was playing in many different places to maximize my preparation. On this particular day, I decided to play with different players in a new recreation center I was visiting. For context, most of these players were of Indian ethnicity as they can also be clearly heard speaking to each other in an Indian language. Fast forward to the end of the session, I decided to take off my jacket (that I’ve been playing with to stay warm) revealing my Philippine-flagged t-shirt. One of them, whose name he later revealed to be “Gagan”, immediately said, “Pilipinas” (instead of Philippines) which is the fluent pronunciation of that word. To both our surprise, he asked if my brother and I were both Filipino to which I said yes. He then started to speak fluent Tagalog and shared where he was from. “Antipolo, Isabella, Makati City…” were some of the names he mentioned which shocked me even more- because that is literally the primary place where I’ve lived when I used to live there.
Overall, it was such a pleasant and interesting experience how cultural similarities immediately opened up the conversation to so much more. He talked about how he prepared “Chicken Adobo” (a staple Filipino dish) and how he would eat some for later that night. While our conversation was short, I realized that in-person interactions allow for a depth of connection that is hard to replicate online. They reveal subtle cues like body language and facial expressions that add layers to communication. These cues help in understanding others better and building a stronger connection.