A WEEK WITH A "S T R A N G E R"- BERLIN IN BROOKLYN.
"Can I draw you?"
She asked this, as my friend Alyssa and I continued to map out our trip to Europe in the middle of Starbucks. The "she" in question revealed herself as Margarita, (yes, like the drink) a young woman visiting NYC from Berlin.
We told Margarita, Yes, Simply because this is pretty common in NYC and it didn't freak us out. As she started to draw she overheard our conversation of our travel plans and would stop often and offer suggestions and flights to check out since one of our stops would be Berlin.
A lot of her knowledge came from her own experience living in Berlin as well as traveling throughout the Eastern Hemisphere. Before coming to New York she lived in India and practiced meditation and became a certified yoga instructor. Margarita decided to come to New York from Frankfurt to conduct a social experiment as her thesis for her final project in university.
The social experiment had a few rules:
1.She couldn't use the internet unless it was to communicate with a person she ad a recent interaction or for directions.
2. She is only allowed to stay at a host residence for a maximum of 7 days.
3.Besides her flight to and from New York, she cannot touch or spend anymore during her two month stay in the city.
You may ask like I did, "How can you possibly take care of yourself for two months in NY with no money????" Well she responded, "I give my drawings for free but accept in exchange food, Metrocards etc. If I am lucky enough I can meet someone who is willing to help me out and possibly host me for the next 7 days."
The inner gyspy in me heard this and couldn't resist, so I extended myself as well as my apartment to host her for the next seven days.
The seven days I spent with her were truly unforgettable. Within a short time, I learned so much about the person living with me as well as myself. Living with a stranger is a scary experience but it helps you understand the way others live, think and relate in various parts of the world as well as force the host to be hospitable and trusting. Sharing all aspects of my life: my work-study at a yoga studio, my daily meals (she was a great cook and spent time cooking with the Hare Krishnas) and my belief system helped strengthen my faith in humans especially those we may not initially know on a personal level.
Much more importantly I gained a friend. I found someone who lived times zones away from me who appreciated art, hot yoga classes midday and delicious vegetarian food, all activities we loved partaking in together. Saying, "Yes" to a drawing brought me on an adventure and allowed me to "travel" without physically moving. Now as I am currently traveling through Europe, I can say I get to visit an old friend no longer a stranger.
Lesson Learned- Take Risks and try to look for the good in people, Without doing so we may lose out on opportunities and valuable human connections.
**COMING SOON- BERLIN STRANGER, NEW YORK FRIEND (A POST ON MY VISIT WITH MARGARITA) ***