The Experience “During my internship in Lebanon, I only worked with Lebanese who spoke English to me. Whenever they asked me if I wanted coffee, to attend a meeting, or have a cigarette, I would answer ‘Yes, please!’ It made them laugh and after a while I found out that they had nicknamed me Yes, please!” Place Beirut, Lebanon Date 2016-2017 Who Talks Lya is a French student in political science in Paris. She grew up in the countryside around Montpellier with an English mother and a Spanish father. What do You Think?
The Experience “In Paris, if you say ‘s’il te plait’, ‘bonjour’, ‘au revoir*’, it’s all good, you’re polite! You can curse however much you want in between and you don’t need to be nice either. This is surprising for us, Brazilians, we tend to get offended when people are not kind. To survive psychologically in Paris, one should not feel distressed when people are not friendly, it’s not personal, the person is there - the shop owner, the café waiter, the cashier and what not - they’re doing their job that’s it. They might not even be happy to be here, by the way. I remember this event in the Parisian metro that really stuck with me: some tourists wanted to buy metro tickets at the counter and they were being yelled at by the salesperson because they hadn’t said hello! On the other hand, you should know, [...]
The Experience “I heard a Brazilian father explaining to his 5 year old son how to thank someone who gifts you a present: - What do you say when you receive a present? - Thank you. - We say: Thank you, I loved it! For me, it felt strange to feel obligated to say we like a present! It seems to me thank you is honest and sufficient…” Place Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Date 2018 Who Talks Dario is Spanish and he lives lives in Rio with his Brazilian wife and daughters. What do You Think?
The Experience “It was a Sunday morning, my daughter had unexpectedly stayed for a sleepover at her friend’s house, whose parents were French, after her birthday party. I came to pick her up in the morning and they didn’t even invite me to come in. I found that to be strange, I’ll admit it, not even a glass of water or a coffee. I didn’t know them and my daughter had slept over at their place. I wondered if they were in a hurry or if my daughter hadn’t behaved correctly. I found them to be very cold! This would never happen with Brazilians. Here, people are always interested in getting to know others. We are somewhat tactful with others, whoever they may be.” Place Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Date 2018 Who Talks Carolina is a Brazilian artist influenced by various cultural [...]
The Experience “I was invited to the birthday lunch of an Australian acquaintance. Apart from me, most of the guests were Australians. First surprise: the birthday was not at someone’s home but in a restaurant. After getting there late, I glanced around the table and noticed some of the guests were drinking wine. I held out my glass to the person closest to the bottle and asked for a bit of wine. She poured it in. At the end of the meal, the check traveled from hand to hand, each adding up their tap according to what they had drunk and ate. When it got to me, I asked: ‘and for the wine, can we share?’ I heard a cold reply: ‘No, this was our bottle.’ I felt extremely embarrassed… and lost, I had obviously committed a faux-pas, but which one? It wasn’t until the following meals that [...]
The Experience One day, as I was in the street outside a military hospital with a Congolese coworker, we saw many bikers drive by with music and yelling. I got scared and asked him what was going on: - They are celebrating someone’s death. - Wow! It’s so festive! I reacted. - Yes, we have to lionize the dead all night long and most of all respect their last requests! Upon dying, a person will provide his or her instructions for his death party. For example, my mother has already chosen her casket, the music and the guests! It’s going to cost me so much! - It’s like a wedding! - Sometimes we even fear someone’s death because we know it’ll be expensive! - It’s funny because in France, for us, we can long for someone’s death because we can potentially inherit from them. I checked up on [...]
The Experience So I found one ecotourism company who offers tours with bikes. Bikes and Hikes LA. We did West Hollywood and Beverly Hills by bike. I should have known "hills" meant “climbing" and with the heat, it was quite tough. My daughter Emilia got sick and had to take electrolytes; and my bike chain fell of twice, but it was worth the effort and the money. And do you know why there aren't any hospitals and cemeteries in Beverly Hills? Because its residents or visitors shouldn't be reminded of their mortality... As if one could avoid that?!! I was shocked. Place Shared on Facebook from Los Angeles, California, USA Date 2016 Who Talks Since she moved to California, Nathalie has set upThis Way to LA, that offers walks in the city (and outside) in collaboration with Via Americana, an organization she created [...]
The Experience Today at work, we got wind of some sad news. A colleague, in charge of the production, died last night in a motorcycle accident. At first, I didn’t quite get what was going on: I saw people gathering in small groups, saddened faces. Then a coworker came up to me to explain. The news ripped my heart out. I didn’t know this man very well, but seeing the whole of the factory (about 200 people) in tears, comforting one another shook me up. Especially since it reminded me the death of a close friend under similar circumstances. Little by little, the machines shut down, the lights turned off, the bustling of the production lines ceased. For a second there, I thought we were about to observe a minute in silence. In reality it went beyond. Our boss decided to close down the factory for the day. [...]
The Experience "In Mexico, the people proudly claim that death is not taboo: they talk about it, they celebrate it. Catrinas: thin female skeletons with pretty dresses and beautiful hats, remind us that we are all equal in the face of death. Rich or poor, primed or raggedy, it takes us all one day or another. I take a closer look at them on the altar. I am impressed with the precision in the details. How much time do the artists spend on these works of arts? In the end, I’m not so sure Mexicans are that laid back about death. At this point, it looks more like an obsession." Place Morelia, Mexique Date 2009 Who Talks Marine, a French national, has been living in Mexico for a year. She is perpetually astonished by her misunderstanding of the ways of each [...]
The Experience Five tourists (one South African, one Russian, one Spanish, one French, and me, surely the only Bosnian in Cambodia) on our bikes, alongside the Mekong river, for two days. We ride through “isolated” villages or at least villages where tourists don’t come often. The Cambodian people are very warm and welcoming. All the villagers say hello to us, with big smiles. The children run behind us… Our jaw is actually hurting from all the smiling, but our joy is immense. We gladly play along and answer back “HELLO”. To ride a bike on muddy roads paved with a thousand potholes is quite tiring, hunger strikes fast. Here’s the deal though, Cambodia is a poor country and as soon as you sidestep the tourist routes, it becomes hard to find a ‘restaurant’. After an hour or two, we come across a place that could very well be [...]
The experience A few years back, I was lucky enough to explore Japan. I remember traveling in the public bus in the city of Kyoto and getting a call on my phone. After about a minute of conversation, I realized that - even though the bus was almost packed - the only sound around was my own. A bit shameful, I hung up quickly and struggled to shyfully blurt out excuses in English to the Japanese woman sitting next to me. Luckily, not only did she understand English, but with sweet compassion, she told me that in her culture, there was such a thing as a right to silence. This explained why no one would take a call (except for emergencies) in public transportation. These particular conversations do in fact interrupt the public silence owed to the inhabitants of this millenary city. This is one of the best [...]
The Experience In Turkey, it was the call to prayer, in Reading (England), the soft drizzle of rain down the windows… In Medellin (Colombia), waking up is rather intense: by 6:30 am, street vendors selling fruits and vegetables, mops, newspapers, masamora*, flowers and more, swarm the streets. This is dedicated to my friend, the aguacateeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee madurooooooooooooo** vendor. Sure, the first few days, you’re a bit grumpy, atop your 11th floor, you point down your finger, but in time, you get used to it and come to cherish your little street vendors, mainly when you dawn on the heat in which they work! You cherish them almost to the point that I would climb out of bed to buy a few of his aguacates… * Columbian Porridge ** ripe avocado Medellin, Colombia, 2012 Who talks Flo, is a French national who works [...]