When we told our Couchsurfing host in Damascus that in Canada it’s customary to bring your own drink, and sometimes even food, to a party of barbecue, he looked shocked.
“What would you do in this situation,” I asked him.
After a hearty chuckle, he responded,” I would thank the invitation, but I’d stay far away from that party.”
In India, even the flower market is run by men. Strewn with refuse and dead flowers, it’s a place that doesn’t charm at first sight. The peeling walls are patched with old movie posters. “So this is the place my guidebook suggested,” I doubted silently.
But the merchants ask to be photographed, offer delightfully fragrant blossoms, and create skillful arrangements to adorn women’s hair or as offerings to the gods. And the experience transforms little by little.
See the post for a photo gallery.
When we travel, we discover that the way we do things isn’t always the correct one. That our culture is only one among so many. And that human beings, fundamentally, have the same needs no matter their differences.
All this is very lovely. But when I hear an Indian burping loudly on the table beside me, it makes me, like my mother, want to scold him and follow up with a lesson on good manners.
When I see a man collecting audible phlegm in his throat before firing it with gusto on the sidewalk, I’m urged to start a little chat on the basics of hygiene.
I started to like India more when I saw that their tourists can be just as goofy as our own.
Indians, too, flock en masse to touristy spots in India. They also eat at overpriced yet bland restaurants overlooking the sea. They buy plastic made-in-China knick-knacks from souvenir hawkers.
And they hold the sunset in their hands or pinch the top of a palace for pictures. Just like we do.
Now with 60% more explanations!
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1. A motorcycle can easily carry a family of five.
2. The role of police is not to protect citizens, but the highest bidders.
why? Bribery has long been a part of Cambodian society. The police and the military have been known to kidnap and threaten citizens for cash.
3. The [...]
I understand now why India is a major innovator in mediation, patience, and inner peace. You really need it here.
After one week in India, I’m still waiting for the payoff.
So far, three cities in, I’m not seeing many reasons to stay.
Whatever claim you make about India the opposite will also be true.
This makes it a pretty difficult country to write about. But by my own logic, it also makes it a very easy country to write about.
And yes, there is tons to report after a mere few days in the country. The problem is that few of it would go beyond the most cliché.
Declining food in Singapore is as productive as asking a computer to hurry up. Insisting is just as foolish.
It is how Singaporeans express affection. It is how they honour guests. It is what they know best.
The challenge of the foreigner is to convert frustration into flattery.
A tragicomedy in three acts.
When I crossed from Cambodia to Vietnam, the culture shock was far greater than when I crossed the other way.
There are two ways to explain this. Like many things, the answer is blend of both.
When selling bootleg books didn’t work, the boy turned to begging for food. He looked 12 and was still perfecting his pity pitch.
After four days in Siem Reap (and another week in Sihanoukville), I got used to saying no to child sellers and beggars. I read enough articles to know giving them money does more harm than good: