Since the early 2000s there has been an undeniable global escalation of negative othering discourses concerning migrants and refugees. The fixation on ethnic difference in these discourses blinds us toward possible sources of connection. To unsettle this essentialist discourse of othering, we need to consider practices that denormalise the taken-for-granted taxonomies of the Self and the Other at their cores and rethink conditions for connection. Urban relational initiatives, experiences and narrations could provide interesting perspectives for exploring new possibilities for connection in liquid modern times, where old-fashioned collective categories lost their function. A multilayered, non-centric, non-celebratory approach of friendship as an empirical and conceptual frame provides a refreshing angle for capturing the multiplicity of everyday urban interactions. The contributions to this special issue provide insights toward enlarging our imaginings of the myriad ways that friendship as a concept and an empirical reality is enabling and constraining relationality in diverse urban settings. Here, I also argue for the importance of ‘unusual’ friendships and their potential to unsettle normalised practices of othering, thereby producing new narratives of connections in a variety of urban settings. All these small yet significant acts of friendship might be either ‘chained’ strategically to promote a collective alternative to normalised practices or ‘chained’ in an invisible manner, serving as existing subtle and modest struggles in imagining social change.