11 May 2017

Random Strangers in a Restaurant

I suppose years ago, the idea that 8 random people would meet somewhere to have dinner in a restaurant is weird. But technology advances, and now there's plenty of social networks that allow one the possibility of having new experiences. So if you're alone, yet you want to go to a restaurant, instead of just eating alone, you can find random strangers to dine with you, which is exactly what I did a few weeks ago.

I found out about Meetup a few years ago, actually. This was when I was still relatively new to Berlin, and I was looking for things to do. But at the same time, I also found out about Couchsurfing, and somehow that was more interesting at that time. I actually had good fun, meeting people both when I was traveling and when I was at home, and when I was at home I met people who were interested in discovering the city with me and some even ended up good friends along the way.

But now, the demographic with Couchsurfing has changed, and so I am not active there anymore. At the same time, I am not single anymore and therefore I have a preferred companion when discovering the city, and at the same time, I have seen the places that visitors tend to gravitate to, and instead want to discover other things like new restaurants and art galleries. So I suppose I needed a new venue.

So there's Meetup. And even though I am not always active, sometimes when I want a diversion, and my preferred companion is not available, then I go and meet random strangers to eat in a restaurant.

It's a tricky dynamic. Some people know each other from previous events, others are totally new. The important thing however is to take the initiative and talk. Ice breakers are great. Sometimes you just listen, and other times there are conversation topics that just become interesting and take a life of its own.

Take my last event for example. 8 random strangers in a Thai restaurant. It turns out that it was a very international (5 countries) and educated (3 PhDs and 1 on the way to getting it) group. The language of the table bounced back and forth between English and German. And the topic of conversation ranged from academia to travel to ancient Greek to religion to accents. And I have to say, it was actually a very interesting time, that is, if you're willing to go out and expose yourself a little. So yeah, if you're an introvert, it's a little challenging, but I must say the pay-off is worth it methinks.

So yeah, that's my new gig lately. Aside from food-related events, I also have outdoor-related events that I am hoping I can find the time to do soon. Summer is here, and the weather is getting better, so there are plenty of opportunities ahead. After all, I still have Mount Kinabalu on my list, so I better prepare for that somehow.


  1. While I have zero problem meeting strangers, I feel weird joining a group of strangers, if that makes sense. But I'm the same with close friends, I like small gathering (2-3 people) better than group gatherings. This is probably why I never tried Meetup (we have groups in Ottawa as well).

    1. Zhu,

      I know what you mean, and to some extent I feel the same. Heck, when I host dinner parties at home, I prefer ones where I only have 2 guests so there's 4 of us in total, rather than a group bigger than that so it becomes buffet style and crowded. But in this case, what I do is segment the group and basically just concentrate on a few people at a time.