Stet by Ria Bacon

Friday, December 24, 2004

Cultural differences

It´s only when you get away from what you´re used to that you realize how it could be otherwise. Sure there are the obvious hand signs such as the reversed V for victory gesture in the UK that is equivalent to giving the finger. Other differences are more subtle, such as the Italian habit of not handling money when you pay in a shop. It can be quite annoying at first, when you hold your hand out for the change and the woman steers past it and lays it on the glass dish. This morning, shopping for essential Xmas supplies (paracetamol, rennies, ...) the man waited until I held out my hand until he handed it over.

A Dutch particularity reminds me of a joke:
Patient: Doctor, doctor, I get a pain in my eye every time I drink a cup of tea!
Doctor: Have you tried taking the spoon out?

It´s commonplace to serve coffee here with the teaspoon in the cup. Don´t ask me why.