“What did you have for breakfast?”
Variations of this question are popular grounds for making small-talk in India. It’s just that my friend put forth this question to his German colleague, who answered “bread” without looking up from his desk.
Good topics for small talk are light and superficial with a touch of variety that people care enough about. And those topics can be very different in Bangalore and Berlin. In Bangalore, the weather doesn’t change much, but restaurant chains like the “Darshinis” and “Sagars” tell you how important and diverse breakfast is. In Berlin, where breakfast is always baked wheat flour in one form or the other, the weather is fickle and everyone frets about it.
Regardless of the topic, there is more to small talk than what it appears to be. When we try to talk about the weather or the breakfast, what we’re really saying is, “I would like to know you a little better, and lets talk about <insert topic based on geography> as a means to do this in a less awkward manner.”
When that is understood, the response is less likely to be a blunt, matter-of-fact response.