Sunday, July 23, 2006

To smile or not to smile


During my training runs on Shoreline Park, I come across many people who are either running, walking or just enjoying the scenery. As a runner, I'm a beginner who is not yet aware of the rules of smiling and greeting. I try to make eye contact with everyone I meet and if I managed to make eye contact, I either smile or greet depending on how tired I'm or how fast I'm running. But making this eye contact is difficult and is not reciprocated by most people I come across. People either don't make eye contact or look away, even if they aren't running. I can understand the runners being tired or trying to focus.

In India, we are not used to smiling at strangers and greeting them. If you did so, you were either assumed to be a thief or a bit out of whack. When I came to this country, it was a pleasant culture shock to be greeted or smiled at on the road. This has become second nature to me over the past few years. After moving to the Bay Area, I've noticed that Buffalonians are much friendlier than their Bay Area counterparts. I have been experiencing this on my morning runs and it's making me uncomfortable for whatever reason. I'm not sure if I'm making a mistake by smiling. Probably, you just get on with your business? Then I might as well run on the treadmill.

I've also started running with sunglasses on, recently and it's making things worse. Hmm, maybe it has to do with the fact that I listen to music while running. Well, it's not so loud that I can't hear a Good Morning or Good Evening. So to all Californians, smile. Don't earn your state a bad reputation. I'm just trying to be nice. :-)

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