Julian Crandall Hollick, in a story called "Life in India: Dawn on Parsee Gulli" on NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, described an experience -- a series of experiences, really -- that reminds me of the Familiar Stranger phenomenon. Hollick talks about walking past a man standing outside his apartment each day, how the two would exchange glances (or stares), and the tension regarding who would break the ice. When one day he passes at a different time, the man is not there, but they chance to meet each other when both are on the street; they exchange wordless, friendly greetings, breaking the ice. Interestingly, it does not appear that this breaking of the ice resulted in subsequent friendly exchanges; in fact, in some cases the opposite appears to have happened (the man at the house sometimes turns his back on Hollick when he passes by after their "meeting" in the street). I find this counter-intuitive, and very different from my own experiences in moving beyond familiar strangeness, but I would not be surprised if my intuitions & experiences are more the exception than the rule.
The following is a rough transcript; the segment occurs between the 4:40-6:20 timestamps within the overall story, which can be heard at the NPR web site.
For months, I walked past this man, standing outside his apartment, obviously waiting for someone or something. Pacing up and down with mincing little steps in tennis sneakers. Every morning, he would stare me straight in the eye. "Who the hell are you? Why are you walking past my home?"
Of course, we never actually said a word to each other, just stared each other down and went our separate ways. And then one day, I was late, he wasn't there. I carried on down the lane. And there he was, coming up the lane, on the other side of the road.
He saw me, I saw him. He smiled at me, mouthed 'good morning.' It was the most wonderful smile anyone's ever given me, like the sun suddenly coming out on a grey morning. I smiled back, and we both continued on our ways without breaking stride. The whole exchange can't have lasted more than half a minute, but the ice had been broken.
We've still never exchanged even a single word; sometimes he even turns his back as I pass by. And so the excitement, the tension of wondering who would break the ice first, was itself half the pleasure. And now we've exchanged smiles, there's no more mystery.