The other day I was having ice cream with my friend S when an old guy came by. Since he could not sit at the tall tables, we lent him a chair and he sat down with us while the shopkeeper got him ice cream.
We were planning on leaving but he started talking to us. The first question was if I’m from Thailand. For the record, no. I told him India. Sure enough, he was in India decades ago traveling. Of course we were going to hear the stories.
I love to hear old people talk. They have a matter of fact way of speaking.
“There are lot of people in India.”
“Poverty is everywhere. People give birth on the streets. It is unbelievable.”
He went on about India and people and then even current events like the Syrian civil unrest. While, we asked him a few questions about himself, he was not interested in them. He wanted to talk to us about something. To someone. Anyone.
There I wondered what his life must be today. Probably without his soulmate and his children and grandchildren located far away. A lonely life. Going out is an adventure and help not always available.
I rarely speak to strangers here, and I feel disconnected from society. I feel like a deaf amoeba roaming around. Hearing the old man reminded me that we are a society even if I never see him, some is (hopefully) taking care of him.
You know for 15 minutes of conversation someone made my day. A stranger. In Sweden. To a brown person. He even called me beautiful. How many times do you hear that in Sweden? Quadruple win for old people.
And he thinks drivers in Stockholm are stupid too. This old guy is awesome.
Plus I figured speaking Swedish to an elderly person is a great way of practicing and understanding Swedish. Keep a Swedish friend with you too. They can help translate and crack jokes so you don’t look like a snobby idiot for not responding to questions because you don’t understand.
So hey, you can talk to strangers in Sweden. They maybe 80 years old and fogies but they can pay compliments and say hi. More fun than a hipster toff in Söder too.