Spontaneous Shmoozing with Strangers in Israel

Before I completely stopped drinking alcohol last November, I had become addicted to it, hoping to let go of my stress and subsequent anger through this unhealthy and toxic instant gratification. But paradoxically, the more I drank, the more stressed and angry I became on the one hand, but after stopping drinking, I've come to feel less and less stress and anger.

One of the positive effects of this change is that I've started to speaking to strangers on the street and in other public places and engaging in spontaneous, sometimes, long, shmoozing. Actually, when I was still addicted to alcohol, I could allow myself to do that only when I was drunk, but now I can do so when I'm sober and even mindful. I can't help too much someone who has helped me repent though this had to be done the hard way.

With this positive change I've also come to take every possible opportunity to start spontaneous shmoozing with strangers when I go out, and now I realize afresh that Israel is a perfect country for this kind of verbal interaction! I wonder whether this Israeli culture of spontaneous communication is originally Israeli and/or part of the traditional Jewish culture(s) of verbal communication.

This informality in verbal communication, coupled with the parallel informality in other areas of culture, may be interpreted negatively as too intrusive or aggressive by non-Israelis who are unfamiliar with this culture Since I don't make a fundamental change when I switch between languages I speak and my default mode of speaking is more Israeli, or at least, Jewish, than, let's say, Japanese, even when I speak Japanese in Japan, many people immediately detect my foreign "cultural accept" though my Japanese mustn't have deteriorated so much after starting to live here this time in August 2004.

Every time I visit Japan as an Israeli Jew now, I can fully enjoy what Japan has to offer tourists from other countries and cultures, and I can also understand why many of them become fascinated with Japanese culture. When I still lived in Japan, I didn't stop kvetching about Japanese society, but I have only good things to say about things Japanese except one thing - verbal communication by average Japanese speakers in not only Japanese but also other languages.

Even in Kansai region, where people are said to be more open, I've had few (or even no?) chances to start and continue spontaneous shmoozing after I spoke to strangers in Japanese. I would say this is stressful but definitely boring. Spontaneous oral shmoozing is quite rare there as long as they remain sober though more spontaneous written shmoozing may be more common especially it's anonymous.

This week alone I had more shmoozing with strangers here than I would have even in several years in Japan. I would even say that this is a cultural asset of Israel, which must also contribute to flourishing entrepreneurship here as such spontaneous shmoozing as a cultural norm must be an important, if not indispensable, factor in accelerating brainstorming.