Saturday, March 28, 2009

Conversation Starter

My Kindle has been the topic of many a conversation on the trains and buses this week. As I take advantage of commuting time to read, I inevitable hear people start talking about it, usually thinking that I cannot understand their conversations... At times, people have asked me questions. How does it work? Where can one buy it? One guy on the subway today had read about it and was keen to see one. "So, can you download books here in Taiwan yet?" I was sorry to tell him, "Not yet."

Earlier in the day, though, the Kindle could've lead into a really good conversation. But I let the opportunity slip through my fingers, I realized as I stepped off the train...

I was sitting reading when a young Taoist monk sat down next to me. The trains tend to be very crammed, and I tend to withdraw into my own world, listening to music on my iPod (as do many of the people around me). This morning, though, I didn't have my earphones on.

I heard the young man clear his throat and politely say, "Excuse me."

It definitely was a young man's voice, but the gray outfits and the shaved heads always make it hard to know if it's a monk or a nun.

"Hi," I said with a smile, surprised that he could speak English.

"My name is Master so-and-so (didn't catch his name). I'm from Pintung (that's in the south of the island.) Do you mind telling me: Is that a computer?"

I explained to him how the electronic book works. After chatting a bit, I noticed we're at my station. "I'm so sorry! This is my station! It was good to chat with you." And I hopped off the train.

As the train pulled away, it hit me between the eyes.

I had missed a golden opportunity right there and then.

I had so many questions for him. I've been wishing I could ask a monk or a nun about their outfits, their beliefs, about things I see around me. Like the fact that the temples have been crowded the past two days, and offering tables have been out on the streets with offerings for the spirits. Is it an auspicious day? Or is it one of the regular, bi-monthly Taoist worship days? What do they believe, really?

I had bought a book on the topic this week, but may not get to reading it for another month or so. (The reading stack is high right now.)

So I missed a chance to learn.

I'm praying that God would give me another chance like that. 'Cause ask about the Kindle, people will. They're curious. Rightfully so. But when they start conversations about my stuff, it may very well lead into conversations about their world, too...

1 comment:

  1. I'm also very curious about the Kindle! It seems cool, but I love holding a book in my hand and turning the pages. Do you miss that? I have an iPod touch with a Kindle reader app on it, but I haven't tried it yet.

    I have had so many opportunities pass me by, and I always feel bad about it later. It's usually because someone starts speaking English to me and I feel kind of annoyed because I feel like they're using me. Then later I realize that it doesn't matter if they were "using" me or not, it's still an opportunity!