Have you ever tried people watching when you travel? I have. Airports are the best places to practice people watching. So are train stations, bus depots and quaint cafes by the roadside.
There are seven billion people living on planet earth. Except for the few in our family and friends circle, all of these are total strangers to us. It’s pretty amazing, not to mention enlightening, to ‘properly look’ at some of them.
People watching is invigorating and constructive. It’s also useful, because it lets you in, on an in-depth and unaccustomed perspective. Many times people have surprised me with their actions and certain pre-conceived notions I have had about them have changed in an instant.
The most important thing to remember when you watch people is to do it discreetly without offending or openly staring. As most people watchers will tell you, there is a very thin line between being observant and being intrusive. Make sure your thoughts do not turn judgmental. If you happen to notice a person who is doing something you don’t approve of, allow your eyes to move on elsewhere; unless of course, that person is trying to light a match next to a gasoline tank.
A passing glance can take in a lot. So can a second passing glance and a third. Everyone can benefit from people watching in some way. Read on how.
1) The sheer variety of the human species will never fail to inspire you. If you’re a person of faith, it will reinforce your belief that these beautiful reasoning individuals could not have been in existence, if not for the omnipotent presence of a divine hand.
2) Sometimes you may think a person looks too serious and disgruntled. Then you see them smiling at a child and their whole face lights up. Your first impression of them has been changed by something as simple as a beautiful smile.
3) There will be quite a few people in a crowd that can serve as possible characters for that great novel you’re planning to write someday. The distinguished looking man in a business suit, the young woman who’s staring morosely out of the window, the fidgety youngster who has gone to the restroom thrice already, the lady who’s talking angrily on the phone…all intriguing inspirations for a script. Watch the body language between two people sitting together.
4) If at all someone catches you looking at them and smiles, be sure to smile back. Maybe this will be the start of a good conversation and a worthy friendship. On the other hand, if they catch you looking more than once and frown, then you’re not people watching the right way.
5) You might see a man trying to jump the queue and another man telling him politely he has to get behind the others. Now there’s a person who likes to follow the rules (hi-fi op) and makes sure others do too. Please don’t hold back from giving that guy a mental salute.
6) This is the best way to get updates about travel fashion. There are people who look ultra-chic in designer pantsuits and luggage to match. Then there are those with backpacks who have invested in some great looking shoes. My favorites are those who have pulled on a pair of jeans, topped it with a tee and coiled a pashmina around their necks that doesn’t even match — I blend in so well with those.
7) You notice that person who has had four cups of coffee already in the past one hour and realize that you share a love of coffee with a total stranger (soul mate alert). Maybe that café has blueberry muffins too?
8) This is the best place to check out some of the latest gizmos whether it’s a sleek notepad or the latest iPhone. Make a mental note to google search the gizmos that interest you.
9) People watching can also be a respite from the eye strain you get from reading the fine print on that novel or when you have exhausted your playlist and don’t want to hear music anymore. No matter how much you love music that does happen at times.
10) You’ll never know how soon the two (or more) hours waiting period passed. Before you know it, it’s time to get on the plane or your bus/train has arrived. Time well spent don’t you think?
Oh didn’t I tell you? All the time you’re people watching, be very aware of the fact that someone else could be watching you too:)
First published on Medium at: