I like people and they know it. When someone smiles at me, I smile back. When they invite me to sit down on their porch, I often do. I accept the cup of coffee I’m offered and I play with their kids, sometimes blowing bubbles with a wand or reading them one of my silly kids’ books which seem to cross cultures with ease.
I frequently find myself following someone who has said, “Come.” If they think that I might be interested in going wherever they are taking me, they are usually right.
I find that making very loose plans, the kind that allow for digressions, or just wandering with no plans at all, hoping to come across people, events, or just snippets of daily life, is my kind of travel. I am not drawn to the places that are recommended in guide books, where I have to stand in line to see finished products like paintings, sculptures, buildings, even concerts. I’d much rather see the process, the artist in his studio, the gamelon rehearsal where the players sit their kids on their laps as they hit the brass keys, the carver carving. If given the choice of watching a dance performance or attending a school of dance and watching the kids learning, I choose the latter.
I do go to performances and galleries and I appreciate the Art, but I have learned over the years that I’m a process person. And in order to be invited to watch the preparations for a cremation, the application of makeup for a performance, the cooking in the kitchen, the setting up for a puppet show, you have to establish a certain amount of trust, in both directions. Usually when I show that I’m willing to trust the people I’m visiting, they trust me as well. And the payoff is being allowed to watch and sometimes even to help in the preparations. That’s my kind of interaction.