The three of us get off at Lognes. Or is it Torcy. I can't remember. We walk towards her house, past the bushes where the homeless sleep, past countless rows of apartment blocks and tiny suburban homes that look like they were taken from the Weeds title sequence. Little boxes in a mostly Asian neighbourhood.
Three older, Muslim gentlemen approach. Since we are the only people on the road, I say hello. They don't greet back. My friends also think it was weird. Why would you greet them.
But here, I do. Not everyone everywhere. It is not as though I walk around campus or shopping centres or the gym uttering hellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohellohelllo to anything that moves. Nevertheless, when my butt has been flattened by a day of sitting on my ass in front of a screen, I go on a walkabout in my neighbourhood. Mostly it is around the time that people return home from work, or walk their dogs or go jogging. So when someone passes, both parties ordinarily acknowledge the other, we nod or say hello. I don't think it is all that strange. Better than staring at my feet and ignoring that someone just walked past me when we are the only ones in the street.
In Germany we never really saw the other people living in our building. In France, I just saw my room mate, but it might have had something to do with the fact that we shared 18m². There, you just saw hundreds of people in the bus and the metro and the RER. Maybe it is that here we are privy to a lot more space, so seeing the neighbours is not considered a negative thing since we don't live on top of each other and can't hear what they are doing at all hours through thin walls.
Who knows. My friends might have been right and I should stop greeting random people, or I could be right and others should try greeting, too.