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Barcelona: Bonding with strangers

A Chinese song.

Photo courtesy of Shazam.

I previously described my experience of making friends with strangers over brunch in my Berlin neighbourhood. Today, I’d like to share another story of bonding with strangers that took place last year in Barcelona and has been on my mind ever since.

After walking the Camino Portugués last year in spring, I decided to spend two days in Barcelona before returning to Germany. My feet desperately needed a massage, so I decided to enter a beauty parlour specialized in pedicures, manicures and foot massages. The one I visited was run by a handful of Chinese ladies. The woman in charge kindly welcomed me and asked me to take a comfy seat. Another friendly lady spread out her tools in front of me and after washing my feet, she started rubbing them in a soothing balm. As she was putting my aching feet muscles back into their pre-camino position, I looked around and observed the other clients.

Opposite to me, there was a local woman who was treating herself to a pedicure as well as a manicure. Her make-up was neat and she was wearing a pair of hot pants and a tight top. Her sunglasses were resting on her head. She seemed to be a regular customer as she barely looked at the lady applying her nail polish. She was concentrated making a phone call instead.

Next to the local woman, there were two men: A bearded man in his thirties and a younger one in his twenties who was wearing a baseball cap. Both of them were enjoying a pedicure. The bearded man was leaning back and seemed to be fully emerged in the experience whereas the baseball cap guy was absorbed by his mobile phone.

To my right, there was a tourist who was having her feet cleaned by dozens of tiny fish. She was sitting in an armchair with her feet tucked into an aquarium. Every now and then she would giggle.

As I was observing the other clients, I felt my feet relax more and more in the woman’s professional hands. The scene was accompanied by some Chinese music that was playing in the background. “What a beautiful song” I thought, when the man with the baseball cap suddenly asked out loud what the song was called. Everyone nodded, signaling they liked it as well. One of the Chinese ladies got up and had a look at the CD cover. Then she pronounced the Chinese title of the song and pushed the replay button. “Yes, that’s the one!”, the man with the baseball cap said excitedly. The lady who was taking care of my feet repeated the Chinese song title. “But is there another title as well? How can I find it? I don’t know any Chinese.”, the man with the baseball cap replied with a smile. Everyone in the room, including my masseuse, started laughing in agreement.

The bearded man, who had had his pedicure finished by now, stepped right next to the baseball cap guy and showed him an app. “This one should recognize the lyrics and help us find the song.”, he said. In the meantime, everyone else had gotten their mobile phones ready as well to try to find the song on their devices. The Chinese lady who was still holding the CD cover smiled, turned up the volume and pushed the repeat button once more. All of us cheered.

“Here it is!”, the bearded man shouted out as he handed the baseball cap guy his mobile phone. “Thank you so much!”, he replied and padded the bearded man’s shoulder. I looked around and saw the whole group smiling from ear to ear. The local woman was looking at the two men in the center of the room all while slightly swaying herself to the Chinese song. The tourist was giggling, not because of the tickling fish but because of the magic of the situation. The Chinese ladies were excited that everyone seemed to enjoy the song so much.

As the baseball cap guy had paid and was about to leave the beauty parlour, he shouted out goodbye and thank you to the whole group. Everyone was in the best of moods by now.

Whenever I listen to this song that has been saved on my device ever since, I can’t help but think about that moment back in Barcelona when a group of strangers in a beauty parlour bonded over this very same song. It always makes me smile.

How about YOU? Is there a bonding with strangers moment that you particularly like to recall?                   


From → Random

  1. Irina Marques permalink

    Barcelona is such an amazing place.
    I remember when I travel to Turkey in Kapadokya, we do that ballon experience and was with a lot of diferent people too, people we didn’t know each other. And was such a happy felling, everyone start to speak with each other, sharing moments knowing each other.
    It das a great experience for the view and for the persons that share the experience – happiness.
    Great post Ana. 🙂

    • Oh wow! Riding a hot-air balloon in Kapadokya must have been wonderful. Especially if you enjoyed the experience with others. Thank you for sharing your story, Irina. 🙂

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