Couchsurfing

January 6, 2010

Beautiful concept, the idea of hosting a complete stranger in your home or city, and a ready pool of like-minded people which radically increases the possibility of making good meaningful connections & lasting friendships – brings up the feeling I had when I first set eyes upon an ummanned fruit store with unit prices hastily written on dusty placards in Kelantan (honor system? or laziness?), or the time I was in my grandmother’s house in Japan, waking up one summer morning to find freshly cut vegetables left on the front porch (neighbour’s harvest) – the intrinsic trust in the good of fellow human beings.

This idea is an extension of paying-it-forward, and also of reciprocity, that I may want to be a good host to somebody, to make someone a good dinner or to show someone my favorite spots in  my home city, my favorite city. Like in one’s life dream in wanting to leave his legacy on this earth, he gets a chance to positively affect somebody in some small way – a kind gesture, a cultural exchange, some deeper understanding… 

I remember in Macuto, Venezuela, a young girl who had never seen an asian before showed me her city and the best empanadas; Nobu the middle age TNT Skypak courier agent in Narita who treated me to all-u-can-eat Yakiniku, a place to crash for the night, and jazz records when I was stranded missing a flight; the tatooed young skinhead in the grayhound somewhere in Texas, convinced that he was a samurai warrior in his past life, mystified by my asian looks, expounded his confucianistic world view & compassion for mankind(!!); Yvonne, an english girl I met in NYC who later hosted me in Cornwall, fed me for 2 weeks, gave me money (50 quid!), traisped around St.Davids in Wales, and later schooled me in my transformation to manhood; Mauricio the village mechanic somewhere nowhere in the Litoral (between Rio and SP) who when my car broke down says no-senor-I-will-work-no-more-today-I-have-money-in-my-pockets-I-won’t-fix-your-car-but-you-are-welcomed-to-come-have-a-caipirinha-with-me and I stayed in his house and the next day my car was fixed; Dave the polish nut who lived upstairs from me in Boston with his 3 cats, always inviting me to his apartment to yak, cooked amazing beef stew,  and calls me names like chink or gook or jap without malice (if that was possible), who died of lung cancer from oversmoking. 

I want to pay it back.

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