Monday, March 30, 2009

Unusual Foreign Customs

One of the great joys of traveling is discovering how people in foreign cultures do things differently. Sometimes it's things you've never thought about before since everyone does it that way at home, and the fact that things are different elsewhere really causes you to think about what assumptions are built in to your culture's traditions.

In Egypt, for example, it's customary for people who are having a conversation to stand very, very close to each other, almost touching. In some Asian countries, it's polite to leave your host's house right after dinner because if you stick around he might think you hadn't been fed enough. In Persia, when someone offers you a gift you're not supposed to accept it right away.

And I learned last night that in Staten Fucking Island, when some guy in a Hummer makes a right turn from the left lane right in front of you forcing you to jam on the brakes in order to avoid a collision, if you honk your horn at him, that makes you the asshole.

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