It’s A Small World

3 August 2014

Isn’t it funny when you bump into someone at some place you don’t expect? It’s a small world, right? Especially with cheap flights and globalisation and all that…

It’s funny then that since moving from one part of Sydney to another that I haven’t bumped into a single person I know. Ok ok I know about the same number of people as a 13 year old teenage girl, it’s true. But I’m still in the same city–Australia’s largest nonetheless. It seems that world doesn’t extend to this part of Sydney. Strange. Or perhaps it just isn’t a small world at all.

Brisbane’s also a big-ish city. I think I’ve been there 3 times this year. Still nobody there I know. This is in the same country as most people I have met.

I take the magnifying glass out further. I was in Italy in winter the year before last (2012 –> 2013). Still no-one I’m familiar with there. There were lots of old Italians shouting to each other from boat to footpath, though… But my most intimate encounters with Venetians are with the things covering my windows.

As I move the magnifying glass further out, I wonder if the world getting bigger or smaller.

It’s probably neither. I think what we see as amazing coincidences are actually not so amazing. Is it really so amazing that somebody from two people from a really big wealthy city bump into each other in a foreign town which has good transport connections and speaks an understandable level of English–all during the middle of summer when everyone takes a break?

Let’s put it in reverse. Is it amazing if I’m wondering through the backstreets of war-torn Kabul and I bump into someone from Dee Why, New South Wales? Yes, but there’s something else that is amazing.

It’s amazing how infrequently we bump into each other. I’m shamelessly stealing this idea from my grandfather:

Imagine all those near misses when the family is on holiday in Hawaii and you decide to look left instead of right to where the neighbours are walking down the street. In Bali, deciding to sleep in for another hour as some Germans you met in Australia walk by your guesthouse.

You would think it’s time to go on about how predictable, unimaginitive and stupid people for all going to the same places. Nope! We’re not. Keep in mind I’ve been to some Greek islands but I’ve never been to the capital of Afghanistan.

As for people other than myself, I don’t think we go places for contrived meetings. Otherwise we would all be looking for each other all the time, in all precisely the same places. I don’t think we’re like that; I’ve felt this genuine sense of surprise myself. Instead to me we experience something that’s not that surprising at all (when you think about it), and get all surprised and amazed and excited. It’s not a small world. It is a funny world.

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