I had a rare, delightful experience this week, on a Sydney train. Usually people sit with their heads down, on their phones, or reading, not making eye contact.
I was in the “dog box” during peak hour and a young mum arrived with her pram, carefully shoehorning her way in. In a blustered moment, a wonderfully assertive lady had made a path for the pram, levered a young man out of his seat for the young mum and was standing, while rocking the pram gently, making conversation.
The dog box slowly lifted their various heads. We discovered that the young mum is French, her seat neighbours from variously Indian, Vietnamese and Anglo backgrounds.
The baby had been rocked to sleep.
Our MC was Anglo and a foster mother of eighteen different children over the years; on the other side of the carriage was a Chinese woman, watching cautiously at the beginning, a Pakistani lady, and a man who revealed that he was Persian, telling us he had been in the country less than twelve months. He chuckled at the liveliness of our conversation.
There was a man singing – sort of – further down the train. No one minded.
We talked about babies, travel (“people overseas like us Aussies”, said the Indian grandma, in her splendidly accented pronunciation) and, briefly, about our background.
Then the train stopped at the necessary station, and most of my new friends alighted.
Another mum with a pram arrived. Another baby, at whom I smiled, held her hand momentarily, and then it was my station.
I smiled again at the baby and towards her doting, Asian mum (who smiled back) and left.
A wonderful day in Australia.