If you go to the Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, maybe you will see a young Catalan giving free conversation to people.
A couple of times a week, 25-year-old Adrià Ballester sits in a chair with a sign that says “free conversations”.
Adrià can speak to people in Spanish, Catalan, English, Italian or Portuguese. He says that most of the people who speak to him are tourists.
On a normal day Mr Ballester talks to five or six people. “They tell me stories. The other day I talked to a 70-year-old woman from ex-Yugoslavia. She told me about the wars she has lived through. Another day, a man talked for two minutes without stopping. He was Finnish, so I understood nothing,” Adrià said with a smile.
Why does he do it? “Our lives are controlled by technology and we are becoming like robots,” Ballester explains. He hopes his free conversations will help people connect and to think about their life. “So far, nobody has used their mobile while talking to me,” he said.
Scientists agree with Adrià Ballester. Humans are social animals and we need to connect with other people. Studies from Chicago and London show that we feel happier when we speak to strangers in the street, in shops or on public transport.