No Such Thing happens once a month inside Kabana, Back Turner Street, Manchester. A stranger buys you lunch in exchange for a half an hour conversation and this month, I went along. I wasn’t too sure what to expect or how I would even feel about this but it’s an experience everyone must try at least once.
You were given a ‘menu of topics’ – a starter, main course, dessert and special. I had to pick a topic from each section to talk about and if I didn’t like the topics in a particular section, I could pick the special. The ‘starter’ topic I selected was ‘small gestures’, my ‘main course’ about ‘winning and losing’ and for ‘dessert’, ‘how this time will be remembered’. All accompanied by a lentil curry to consume whilst we talked.
When I was being told about how I would choose the topics and how we would talk about them, I didn’t think the actual conversation would waver so much as it did. We covered a lot of topics in the short time we had, politics, religion, life goals, friendships, sexuality, the past and the future. We even dipped into a conversation about public transportation. The thirty minutes we were talking felt like a lot longer. I wish it did go on for longer now looking back, just to see where the conversation would have taken me.
I took away inspiration more than anything and a new way to look at things. My opinions on the topics we covered haven’t changed and I believe in what I believe in strongly. But how I look at people has definitely changed. Everyone has a story and I think I will always be a little bit curious now of strangers I pass, wondering if they have had any exciting experiences or tales to tell or some wise words to pass along.
Talking to a stranger is easy online, but can you do it in real life? I never thought I could, but I have done. I’d suggest to anyone who’s willing to step out of their comfort zone to go along to No Such Thing and have a conversation with a stranger and see where the conversation takes you.
words Rizwana Ali
photography Kate Daley