In the corner of a low key curry house in the northern quarter, I’m tucked away in the corner, sitting opposite a man I’ve never met before eating a lamb karahi. No Such Thing is a long term project set up by Quarantine to engage strangers in conversation over a meal.
The notion of talking to strangers is quite a weighty task. I for one feel like I’m on the introverts spectrum, and maybe used this chance as an excuse to try out my conversation skills,and to open up to an unfamiliar person. The possibilities of what to talk about is so vast, and so infinite it’s sometimes hard to know where to start and to some it’s just a chance to indulgently reel off a lengthy life story to someone who hasn’t heard it yet. But once the pleasantries were over, and a list of conversation topics are revealed, the conversation flits from conflicts of identity to gripes with our countries inability to take responsibility for personal waste.
There is something very safe in talking to someone who you will most likely never meet again. And in this instance (an allocated 30 minutes to discuss an infinite amount of possibilities) I had an almost therapeutic like response to it all. When someone has no context to your problems, it’s quite easy to offer up a piece of yourself without ever feeling like you’ve given up something with long term consequence. So even when I entered with a heavy feeling of anxiety, I left considerably lighter having given a piece of myself to someone who was interested in taking it. I’m intrigued in knowing how others respond to the pressures of sharing a meal with a stranger, and whether it offered the same type of therapeutic quality. Overall a lovely experience, and perhaps a nudge in the right direction on how to approach future conversations with strangers in the same way.
No Such Thing runs once a month, details on the website.