When I was a child, I was embarassed when my mother started chatting to random strangers in waiting rooms, on buses, on trains. She had a knack for commiserating with people and they would end up telling her their whole life stories. She explained to me that she did it to make the time pass more quickly, to hold boredom at bay.
Now I am the one engaging random strangers in conversations. At airports, on planes, on buses, on trains, even at the supermarket check-out. I do it because I am interested in people. I think everyone has at least one good story to tell, if only we keep our eyes and ears, our minds, open.
Yes, sometimes people shudder and pull their pashminas more closely to protect themselves against my curiosity. Sometimes they pointedly turn and start playing with their little electronic friends. But sometimes people have been generous with their time and confidences. Sometimes, they too - like me - consider it a privilege rather than a nuisance to connect with someone - heart to heart, mind to mind. Even if it's just for a brief few minutes.