I'm staying at Alibaba Backpacker Lodge (a sizable house in Nuku'alofa owned by a former Iranian refugee)* - by coincidence members of a whale watching expedition were here too. Marine biologists by training - all very nice people. I could see that our Captain would be delighted to meet them and I brought it up with him. They came over for dinner - all 9 of them including their Aussie boat crew that they had chartered. Wow, I don't think our little ship could handle that many people on board. It was a really great time for all. An Aussie sausage sizzle.
I confess however I felt a bit claustrophobic being in such a small space with so many people. I got tongue tied and couldn't think of anything interesting to say.
But here's the strange part - one of the crew was talking to them about what we may find, the problems associated with our mission - stuff I'm pretty sure I told them the same thing earlier at the guest house. And he held their attention like a teacher in a primary school room.
Sometimes I think force of personality, charisma, gift of the gab plays a big part in any social gathering. I'm not sure why but I've keep on wanting to fade in the background. Yet I feel a slightly intense desire to participate to talk - at the same time I feel shy and uncomfortable in speaking.
I do talk but I notice they don't seem to listen. Could it be my accent or style of talking?
Its late... gotta go to sleep. The whale researchers are going to be spending a week there - and I'm hoping to catch at least one trip out with them. But despite the initial friendly banter at the start - I sense a certain distance from them now. I feel like a bee thats gone to the wrong hive. Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that I like eating at a Tongan restaurant that served turtle meat. Maybe they think that all Chinese people are the same.
I don't know. Sometimes I'm quite clueless about group dynamics. Subtle clues, gestures, words, phrases, mannerisms and suddenly I've accidentally mixed sulfuric and concentrated nitric acid.
You should see the awful look in my face when that happens.
But you've got to try and not withdraw. Learn from each experience and push on. Learn more. Think more. And try and always radiate a happy positive countenance.
* The Iranian refugee who could pass off as the Shah of Iran - ran away from Iran during the Iraq-Iran War when he was 15 years old.