11 August 2006

When anywhere, they do what the Romans (and other Europeans) do

If you are sitting next to people from the same country as you are, are you supposed to talk with them just because of that? I was sitting here on a computer last night and a Finnish couple was on the next one. I was thinking that never in a million years would I talk to them if we were in Finland so why should I just because we are half the world away. I think it is things like that, that our national identity is consisted of. But it was nice to see other Finnish people traveling outside of the usual comfort zone. I suppose I could have bigged them up for that.

The place where I am staying now seems to be found by quite a few Scandinavians. Well actually it is just one massive group of Swedish and Danish young people. They look very Scandinavian, which is not much of a surprise, with their beach gear and fashion which is reaching rest of the world probably around next summer. Finnish couple looked nothing like them so I have a reason to assume that there is a difference. I doubt that the difference would be that big somewhere in the Mediterranean though.

Last night having a supper, I was sitting in a next table to this crew and once they were paying the bill, an unfortunate event took place. There was some trouble with the prices and I have not got the foggiest idea who was right and who was wrong but I was quite embarrassed by the Danish girl in her early twenties who started to raise her voice to a local person probably twice her age. I know the culture we are dealing with in the north and I testify that it is lacking respect to the elders or to anyone one for that matter and I am probably as guilty of that as anyone, but here it is a culture, that one must respect people who are older, and evidently last night we were here, not in the northern parts of a different continent.

It is sad because I have seen enough European people traveling in different places and they often go to their destinations as some sort of an elite class of owners whose wishes must be followed or otherwise they will take their money somewhere else. The starting point has always been that we know more, our system is better and there is very little, if anything, that can be learned from locals. I am not talking about everyone, not even a majority, and possibly it is more the tourists than travelers who do this but you cannot expect to buy someone’s dignity with your Euros, Dollars or Pounds. The fact that people are poorer here does not give you a right to make them compete over your money. All of this can be put into just a one word, respect.

What is so ironic about this all is that most of the time it is the same people who then demand respect from the immigrants, travelers and foreign students when they come to our shores and are personally offended if their customs are not adopted. Strange bunch of people, us so called Europeans, aren’t we.

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