Thursday, 28 February 2008

Partly Cloudy

Today, while beginning my jog, I took in the weather. Partly cloudy I thought to myself. Then my thought immediately transferred to how ironic it was that London is usually partly or mostly cloudy most days, and it struck me how funny it was that its weather seems to mirror the Londoners. My concept of Londoners after living here for 7 months is that they resemble mood swings similar to the weather. Partly to mostly cloudy in that they typically show no positive emotions what so ever, and many portray other emotions such as anger, anxiety, confusion and worry. During my daily commutes, I rarely see a person smile or display happiness, but I do see the other emotions mentioned above. Come to think of it, not even when I am walking down the streets and I throw out a smile to a stranger is it returned! Humorously, I recall in my mind’s eye a poster in a tube within the last week; it was some campaign about trying to persuade people to actually smile to a stranger. In fact, most everyone is so fast-paced and inconsiderate during commuting hours that I have wondered during my journeys if someone were to have an accident and lose footing, would they be trampled on.

By now in my jog, I am pondering the differences of the U.S. culture and British culture. Then my mind transfers to some recent conversations I have had in the workplace. Comments such as hm, that is an interesting idea, is perhaps really one’s way of disagreeing where as in the U.S. one would say you have got to be kidding and be straightforward. Or, I am not quite with you on that one probably really means you are talking bullshit.

I observe on a regular basis insular tenacity from colleagues which results in a failure to comprehend differing values in others. I think back over my experiences thus far of living in London and compare it to what I had envisioned to test the discrepancies. I recognize that what I am expressing also mirrors some of the same stereotypes around the stiff upper lip. I hear other English and Scottish exclaim how they hate coming into the city also, and when I ask why, they share similar views around the lack of friendliness, overcrowding, etc.

I once read a book that discussed British insularity. It discussed how Brits generally have a feeling that ‘foreigners’ intend to outsmart them. I work in an environment where the majority of the leaders of this particular division are American, and I often hear the term American referenced by non-Americans. I wonder, it is appropriate to place such value and judgments on ones culture?

We continue to see things partly cloudy and strive for sunny days.