Random Observation/Comment #167: I’m always surprised at how easily you can meet other people in a traveling environment. This is a part of the overall hostel atmosphere, and should be appreciated to its fullest extent. The 6- to 8-bed mixed dorm style rooms are ideal for starting these random conversations, which usually lead to some good company during lonely hikes. It almost makes me wonder why I even planned these days when I always ask the main desk or random people for information. I feel so fickle when it comes to taking advice from someone that speaks so passionately and highly about a specific location. When someone says, “You should definitely go to the top of the mountain when you get a chance – it’s completely worth the money,” I can’t help but fork out the cash. I could have just met this person, and yet those perfectly timed inflections and on-queue convincing smiles just sells so well. The conversations with some of these people just made me feel like they just remembered this secret and completely awesome, underground fun-zone on the spot and felt the need to share it with me. Every single time I spoke with these people, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’m glad I asked the right guy about this.” The great part: They could never be wrong because the mountain sells itself.
As outlined in the previous entry, it is quite natural to meet new people that introduce you to a larger group of friends and open you to a web of connections throughout the hostel. The first one you meet is always the most difficult, but I’ve let my imagination go wild over the most ideal and realistic series of events. For example, you could be blissfully eating your own home-cooked meal at the hostel one lonely evening, and your eyes could meet hers across the room, fully-synchronized with a genuine kind-hearted grin and an absent heart beat. Then, of course, you would try another bite while maintaining the eye-contact and completely miss your open mouth. If you’re lucky, the food would fall on your plate with a thud. The less fortunate find themselves in a pickle. She would give a painful look, trying to be polite by not laughing too loud. In your fit of embarrassment you would dig your head into the world behind your camera’s LCD screen, trying your best to imagine yourself in another situation. In the perfect world, she moves her plate over to start a conversation about traveling because she thinks you’re cute, but in the more realistic one, you see her pass in your peripheral vision and go to bed early. Gosh, even in my day dreams, I find myself rejected in the most pathetic ways possible. Well, this did not happen, but it crossed my mind in great detail.
Anyway, the truth is, I was not alone throughout my adventures in Switzerland because I continuously met new and interesting people with an incredible outlook on life (this could have been a symptom to the highly contagious virus of happiness). As the conversations dove deeper past the façade of traveling stories, I really heard personal views on different important subjects. Conversations about goals and aspirations can last for the first hours, but a bit more digging is required to peek into the normal (or abnormal) trains of thought. I didn’t understand these people until I spent a few days getting to know odd habits and suffering through awkward silences. It wasn’t until I noticed this close scrutiny of personalities that I realized the repetition of some of my stories.
Perhaps it’s not the fact that their lives were not particularly interesting, but rather the fact that they had told the same story with small variations. So much of these introductions seemed rehearsed or approached with a long sigh. It felt like an empty checklist of interesting facts that were spewed instead of inserted at the appropriate times. The relationships (no homo) were sped up to make the travels more comfortable, and I guess it gave me the same impression as a speed dating event. I didn’t get a chance to learn about the person in the environment’s natural pace. As a mental note, I guess I will try my best to maintain the mystery and reveal the small tidbits about myself when the subject arises.
Anyway, these new buddies, although now loosely connected through facebook, have hopefully adopted new hobbies or learned new things from each other’s interaction. In fact, every person I have met has taught me something new – I make it a priority to learn something new from every person I come into contact with. Whether it’s a new word in a different language or an observation from a dress style, it helps me remember their names and their stories more clearly. Based on the number of “friends” (at least on facebook anyway) I should know a good deal of random facts about life. I hope it will one day help me win a game show, like in Slumdog Millionaire.
To put it simply, the friends I met in Interlaken were rad. Whether they had hilarious adventures about French girls, or they ended every story with shitting on something, their personalities were unforgettable. Although every moment wasn’t filled with conversations and prying questions, it was as if I knew them for one semester at college instead of 5 hours the day before. It seemed like the random observations and comments flowed regularly and there was no pressure to maintain interesting conversation. I was already okay with a few random talks and enjoying the photography moments.
I hope everyone has the opportunity to backpack, sleep in hostels, and meet interesting people. The experience really adds a different shade of happiness to your life. Social skills are improved with every night out and the conversations constantly show a new outlook on the world. Sometimes you just have to ask the right questions.
~See Lemons Link Hostel Friends