Yesterday I was taking the elevator in the building in New York City where I’m staying. The door opened to a middle-aged man and his mother already on the elevator, so I greeted them “good morning” and got on. The man greeted me warmly back and then asked me where I am from. Well I have absolutely zero idea how to answer this question and got extremely flustered. “Do you mean where do I live? Or where I grew up? Or what my heritage is?” He was probably equally confused by my discombobulated response, so he settled on heritage. After I answered he told me, “I just wanted to say that I really appreciated you saying good morning to us.” He explained that he’s from Eastern Europe from a culture that values greeting others, but he’s often disappointed by how few people respond to him here in New York. I excitedly explained to him that I spent the past three years living in Mozambique in a similar culture, so I also appreciate greeting others. We chatted for a few minutes about our experiences because wishing each other good days. That’s one of the things I thought I would miss most about Mozambique/Africa—those momentary but wonderful connections you make with strangers who you’ll never meet again.
I’m posting this from a bus, on my way from NYC to Boston. Wireless on a bus? America is blowing my mind.