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Serendipity of the city

I walked into a pole yesterday. But just like I did after I hit it, let us take a couple steps backwards and use the event to showcase something that I think more of us could seek: serendipity. With that, back to the story.

I went to a launch of a new non-touristy tourist map of Prague. I didn't know anyone there, so I grabbed a couple maps and went on my way.

As I was zig-zagging through the streets of Prague, I heard a dude (not a guy, clearly a dude) with long curly hair and a mustache exclaim: "This is touristy as shit." He was indeed correct, for we were walking through the main streets of Prague old town.

Now we arrive at a critical junction. A decision point. You see, I just got a couple non-touristy tourist maps and I thought: this dude could clearly benefit from it. He's clearly looking for less touristy locations around the city. So my choice was: keep on waking and ignore the dude (normal), or do the less normal thing, approach the dude and risk a bit of confusion and awkwardness. You can probably guess what comes next.

I stopped, fished the map out of my backpack, and went up to him and his dude compatriots. I started talking and as I was explaining the purpose of the map to the group of confused dudes, it hit me. The pole, that is. Skull rang, teeth chattered, and dudes went "Oh! Are you okay man?" in unison. Pause. Brief assessment. "Yeah." Then the dudes invited me to their performance at a local club, because they were a ska-jazz band out of Austin, TX. I said I'll consider it and walked away briskly, seeing out of the corner of my eye one of the Three Mustachios study the map.

Though this particular moment was slightly painful, I find these sorts of interactions enjoyable. You see, the city is chock full of strangers. All kinds of people, going about their lives. And the normal thing is to ignore others. To bob and weave, A to B, appointment to bed. It's natural to not interact with strangers. There's danger involved, or at least a bit of embarrassment if the interaction doesn't quite play out. So it's easy to be disconnected, alone in the middle of a million-strong throng of people. To only meet people you already know, run errands, and live in a bubble.

This one short, but poignant interaction is an indicator of what I want to do more of: courting the serendipity of the city. Talking to more people, going to new places, going to interesting events. Connecting the dots, the atoms of the city. Hopefully, this endeavor won't involve more concussive pole encounters.