When I'm traveling and I meet people they're most often friendly. Of course, if they have an agenda -- if they, for example, want to sell me a carpet -- it usually pays them to be friendly. When they don't have an agenda -- and many don't -- they're just friendly. People like Americans, although perhaps the people I find who are friendly just like people.

I don't walk around with my camera cocked. Taking a photograph of a person is a second thought. The first is to look or be looked at, to glance or catch a glance, to smile and nod hello or to be smiled at and acknowledged. If I'm moving on and they are sufficiently interesting I'll shyly hold up my camera and point at them and back at me several times with a questioning look. Often they'll halt and strike a pose. Since I'm slow to get the process ready and since I don't really want the pose they've assumed, I'll make motions to them to relax. Then I'll focus and take my eye from the viewfinder and meet their eye and smile. That's when I take the picture.

It couldn't happen the same way here. I can hear myself asking someone if I could snap their picture. They'd say "Why?" "Well," I'd respond, "I'm a tourist and I want to take the picture of someone who lives here so I can show the folks at home." They'd tell me to walk a few blocks to Telegraph Avenue (or Ghiradelli Square, Hollywood Boulevard, Broadway and 42 Street...) and find someone there. No, of course they wouldn't say that. They'd grunt and move on.

Maybe it's the multiple tourist factor. So many tourists are our entertainment for the afternoon -- a person in Mexico might say. Why not pay them back with a little performance of our own?