Lines in Lyft Lines

All throughout my life I was a pretty quiet and shy person. I was fairly chatty around my friends and family of course but I always struggled around new people. What do I say? What do I do? Where do I put my hands? (why have we as a society not figured out what to do with our hands?) Conversations with new people inevitably ended as quickly as they began.

As an English major/avid reader/writer, I felt like conversations had to follow a similar outline to my college essays. You start with the basic introduction/small talk, coming to a connection/thesis that would lead us to the body of the essay and a more fluid, in depth, meaningful conversation. The conclusion would be the exchange of information or pleasant good-byes.

Except what I learned was conversations don’t really flow like essays. Exchanging 4–5 lines with someone doesn’t automatically unlock a connection nor does it lead to a more interesting conversation. To get interesting conversations you had to be interesting yourself. (Shocking, I know. I’m suddenly thankful for all of my friends.)

My move to a city coincided with the rise of the ridesharing industry. I only had to deal with annoying and inappropriate cab drivers that never took credit card for a few months. It was great. And then more recently, the major ridesharing companies created carpool like services, such as Lyft Line or Uber Pool. Each ride is around $5 and you get paired up with people that are going in a similar direction to you.

Maybe it was the fact that I would never see these people again, or maybe it was because I rode in Lyft Lines when I was headed out with friends to a bar or dinner and so I was in a good mood or maybe it was the drink I consumed with my roommate while getting ready that made me me stray from the conversation topics I am used to.

After telling a fellow passenger I was meeting someone for Mediterranean food she told me about the Jewish birthright trip her friend went on recently. I lamented on the fact that India has nothing like that and then we got into a conversation about the traditions and little games that happen in an Indian wedding (she was a photographer who was going to shoot an Indian wedding the following weekend).

There was the driver who asked if I was Indian, and then he told me how his parents and him moved to Fremont from India to work at Tesla. Such a small world to meet someone that has my two homes.

There was the guy who made me watch a YouTube video called Meat Glue, connected to his car speakers and everything, after I told him I was vegetarian (I do not recommend watching this).

There was the passenger with whom I discussed sports and how being a sports fan must be so stressful and exhausting.

There was the driver who heard me watching a video of my nephew so then we started talking about his kids and my nephew.

There was the Lyft line that I got into after a date where the driver and passengers wanted to know all the details. I shared how it was a perfectly fine date and maybe perfectly fine is all I can expect or hope for to which I got back a unanimous “nope”. The driver, an older man in his 50s, and I had a good conversation about life, love, and expectations. It’s one thing to hear reassuring comments from your friends but another when you hear the same words from someone who has only known you for 20 minutes. This man didn’t have to tell me not to settle. He could have just said “Girl, you need to lock someone down ASAP” and I would have said “Yes, OK fair point”. His job was to get me home safely; he didn’t owe me kindness and compassion but he so generously offered it.

There was the Lyft driver who asked if I was going to dinner and said I smelled good. Actually that conversation ended there, so maybe it is not the best example.

Many of these conversations were interesting because they skipped small talk. Something about being in a confined, dark vestibule going 60+ miles an hour inspired openness, honesty, and at times, vulnerability. Sometimes it was easy, like talking about Indian traditions. Other times I shared something maybe a bit more personal and close to my heart — like stories about my nephew or dating.

It is not easy to be open and vulnerable. Some people may not react well to what you have to say. It’s scary and hard to take that risk. But I’ve found when it is accepted and reciprocated, it leads to some great conversations and relationships.

Most of the time I don’t even know the name, age, or occupation of the people I was chatting with in the car. That’s kind of crazy to realize because that’s usually one of the first few things you know about someone. But it is ultimately not surprising since I learned those things have little to no bearing on what creates a connection.

What I thought was just me getting from place A to place B actually was a lesson in what it means to form genuine connections with people, fleeting or otherwise. It helped me be more comfortable around new people. I didn’t feel like I had to ask certain questions or follow a certain conversational path. I could just talk about what interested me while the other person did the same and in some crazy cool way we found a commonality.

I still haven’t figured out what to do with my hands though.


Lessons from Muni

I’ve been riding Muni (the local San Francisco bus) for over two years now. There’s never a dull moment and you’re always bound to disembark with a story. Here are some lessons I’ve learned while riding the bus:

– Don’t cut your nails on the bus. I assumed this was a unspoken rule, but apparently not. No one needs to hear the sound of nails being clipped or having nails strewn all over the bus. So just don’t do it.

– Respect the personal space. If there are ample seats on the bus, there is no need for you to sit next to me.

– Don’t sit on the outer seat of the bus if the inner seat is available. I will come sit on the inside seat, with my purse and other bags hitting you in the face, while most likely stepping on your foot. It’s so much easier for you and me if you just slide over.

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– Be accommodating. No one dreams of being on a crowded Muni. So try to make things easier for everyone and be accommodating. Move to the back of the bus, slide on over so a fellow passenger can get a better grip of the pole, make yourself as flat as possible when people are trying to exit, etc. These things may be small, but they really help and I’m always appreciative when I am on the receiving end of them.

I spent a long time being annoyed or irritated when I was on Muni. But then I realized I rode it every morning and evening and I had a bitter Muni taste in my mouth long after I got off at my stop and that was no way to start/end my day. I realized that just as I didn’t like Muni, nor does anyone else (I know, duh). Once I had this quite obvious revelation, riding Muni has been more tolerable.

– Lastly, Muni has taught me that there are so many different types of people out there. It is so easy to be in your own little bubble and only associate with people of the same profession, socioeconomic status, age group, race, etc. Living in the city and subsequently riding Muni has opened my eyes to the different ways people live their lives. You see people that are young, old, professionals, retired, happy, sad, and so on. You see them every morning and every evening, wondering where they are going and where they are coming from. What a ride.

Weekend Snapshots

The forecast for this weekend was rain, rain, and more rain. But this time I didn’t do what I usually do when it rains.

Instead I went to San Francisco, enjoyed a Thai lunch, and spent the rest of the rainy afternoon in a cozy wine bar. If you had to be out and about in the rain, that was the place to do be. I was obsessed with the sheep-shaped artwork on the walls. So cute, right? I also saw The Hunger Games. I had been waiting for the movie for what seems like the longest time and I plan to share my thoughts in a separate post!

So yes, it was a great weekend despite the weather not cooperating. How was your weekend?

Happiness Is..

A breath of fresh air after been cooped up inside for far too long.

And when that air happens to be San Francisco and 70 degrees…well, that’s just the icing on the cake.

“Who will tell whether one happy moment of love or the joy of breathing or walking on a bright morning and smelling the fresh air, is not worth all the suffering and effort which life implies.” – Erich Fromm

What’s been making you happy lately?

City love

I love cities. I do enjoy nature, but at heart I am a total city girl. I love the skyscrapers, the bustling energy, the massive amounts of people, and of course all the amazing things to do/eat. I have to say that San Francisco is one of my favorite cities. I may be a bit partial considering I’m from the Bay Area, but I’ve been to NYC, London, Mumbai..I enjoyed them all, but felt that they were too busy.

I know that you are thinking – aren’t cities supposed to be too busy? Maybe they are. But I love San Francisco for its mix of busyness, yet still maintaining that casual, relaxed vibe about the Bay Area that I love so much.

20120207-160525.jpgPretty pillars.

20120207-160206.jpgCable cars: A San Francisco staple

Adorable foam design on my Blue Bottle Coffee Mocha

20120207-160113.jpgDressed for a dreary day

20120207-160431.jpgCute sidewalk coffee shop in the middle of a bustling street

What is your favorite city? Why do you like it so much?

City by the Bay

The 4 day long weekend was a great one. It was a perfect balance of relaxation and activity. I took naps and finished the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy and am on the second, Catching Fire. One day was spent in one of my favorite cities, San Francisco.

We went to Union Square to catch the tree lighting and then ventured to the Hayes Valley neighborhood where we ate at Patxi’s Chicago Pizza. I love deep dish pizza and was happy to find a place in the Bay Area that comes close to the amazing pizza you get in Chicago.

The next stop was Smitten Ice Cream. This small ice cream shop features only a few flavors a day but they make their ice cream right in front of you. Using only fresh, local ingredients the ice cream is made in 60 seconds with the help of liquid nitrogen-run ice cream maker. The ice cream was full of flavor and creamy.

I had the TCHO chocolate (made in San Francisco) ice cream with cocoa bits.

Also, their cash register is an iPad and if you pay by credit card you have the option to have your receipt texted or emailed to you. Pretty cool! I can’t wait to go back when it’s warmer.

It was so fun to play visitor to a city where I’ve lived my whole life, exploring new neighborhoods and places to eat.