Roger von Oech

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Frank Topper

From one version of Buddhism...
happiness = compassion + interdependence

PS: You are my travel hero, Roger.....

Lewis Green


My experiences exactly regarding the Swedes. Very funny. And thank you for sharing your traveloque with us.

Wherever I go, I learn a few phrases in my host country's language, and once there I try to speak to my hosts as much as possible in their native tongue. But because my ear is deaf to languages, I mostly butcher all languages except English. Despite that, I find that before long, my friendships grow just because I make the effort.

Becky Carroll

Roger, this is a great idea. We absolutely love to travel to other countries and lived in Europe for 3 years. We always make it a point of learning these words: please, thank you, and cheers. Using nice manners in their native language always brings a smile - especially the "cheers" one along with a glass of wine/beer/native drink!

Priscilla Palmer

You have been tagged for The Personal Development List. (See my site for details), I would love for you to participate.

Charles Meyrick

I make sure to learn the native phrases for "Please", "Thank you", and "I'm sorry." Absolute essentials.
One phrase I've found makes a huge difference (and this need not been in the native language: "This is delicious!" People love it when foreigners appreciate their local dishes. And of course, the photographic negative, to be avoided at all costs, is, "Eeee-yew, you eat THAT?!?!"
Genuine appreciation of local cuisine opens a lot of doors. It can be kind of like passing a test... You accept their cooking, they accept you.

Roger von Oech

Frank: Thanks for the kind wishes and the happiness "formula."

Lewis: "I find that before long, my friendships grow just because I make the effort." Excellent advice, Lewis.

Becky: You're right: "please," "thank you," and "cheers" are vital expression. I'd also throw in: "hello" and "goodbye."

Priscilla: Well, thank you!

Charles: Always perceptive. What a delicious comment!

Luc Debaisieux

I actually never thought about asking people that question. Excellent!

While traveling, I found out that simple humor sometimes helps break the ice and is a good way to engage conversation. I remember that when visiting Marrakesh, a friend of mine living there suggested to say "Ana Marrakshi" (I'm am from Marrakesh). This made many laugh as they clearly new from my (untanned) face, obvious French accent and smile that I could not be (really) serious. Then the shy/gentle reply (and conversation starter) was... "Oh... are you working here?". But I like "Are you happy?" better, really!

What a fantastic journey you have made!
Thank you for sharing.

Mark McGuinness

Great idea Roger. I've not tried such an imaginative conversation starter, but I always like to try some of the local language. If I can learn one or two words of the local dialect then it's fantastic to watch people's reactions hear a foreigner talking like a local. E.g. In Kyoto last year I discovered that the local word for 'thank you' is 'okini' (instead of the usual 'arigatou') - the taxi drivers and shop assitants found it hilarious to hear a gaijin using that word.


roger this is the great idea to learning these word or phrases ,but i don't think so that is going to help you in India where every 10 k.m the syyle and accent is changed

Roger von Oech

Luc: Just part of the conversation.

Mark: "Okini" for that. I'll use it in the next ryokan I stay in!

Vicky: There's that much variation? Wow.

jen stumbles

I love your idea! Normally when I go to other countries I learn how to say "I'm sorry I can't speak very well but.." which is apologetic and usually gets a laugh, but I love the idea of opening up dialogue with locals and finding a way to be human without justa "tourist"...great stuff

Mary Richmond

what a great way to let people know you're both interested and non threatening--i love it....probably wouldn't hurt to ask our english speaking acquaintances the same thing if you think about it.

Twila Marie

Simply splendid! I'm a very social person, who has seldom met a stranger, yet I'd never thought of using such a "conversation starter". I really can't think of any better way to get things off on the right foot. Go You!

Clay Parker Jones

Roger -

You oughta check out The Power of Babel by John McWhorter. It's great! Right on topic with this.

- Clay

Mr John Joseph Sabrowski, Prussian, Free Born American, Duluthe Minn, 12/12 1944

Please write to me back at the email above. My wife and I go over 40 years married to each other Oct 7, 07. Not far off. Please write me back soonest. We need help to move on in our life together. We do laugh a lot, but it is not about our sad days only. Thanks for this space in time for me to write to you.

Roger von Oech

Twila, Clay, and John: Good luck to you all!

Mike Paahana

no haven't been happy a while wish my gf would lighten up or leave have fantasy of her sister now that girl would make me happy hahahaha

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