“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness…Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one’s little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” (Mark Twain)
Every time we travel the customs and codes which pilot our lives encroach upon the cultures of others. Thus even a simple hand gesture that seemed normal and ordinary to you, to the other may prove to be rude and out of place. Normality certainly gets to be viewed differently, depending on the corner of the world where the plane or in some cases a boat dropped you.
What gets to be proper in your country may very well be considered improper in another country. The notion of strangeness or oddness as some may prefer calling it certainly holds in it the attribute of variability.
And there certainly happen to be quite many variables in the many events taking place in a life’s time. The same time tells whether a certain custom or tradition will turn out to be just a taboo in a few years’ time. Quaint, amusing or primitive ways in which various parts of the world choose to welcome us!
There may be some laws (and thus a fine if you are caught not abiding to them) or just some unwritten “no, no-s” in certain countries. If you ever decide that Thailand is just the prefect country to spend your next vacation then make sure that once there you get rid of your shoes when entering the house of a local. There gets to be some unwritten, yet very well known rule dictating any guest that the dust of the streets should remain on the street.
Once there you should also be aware of the fact that no matter how much you may happen to love children you should refrain yourself from petting the head of any child. Mainly because this may be interpreted as an insult! An insult may also be showing disrespect in any way towards members of the royal family. When in their presence the best choice you could make would be for you to start crawling on the ground and make sure that your head is where your feet are, never in a higher position than that of the King or any Royalty.
Wish to be told another crazy law coming from Thailand? If whatever gets to be nonconformist defines you and you may happen to feel like leaving your underwear in the hotel room withhold yourself and keep it on. The law there demands this! Or at least so I’ve heard and I cannot stop wondering how they check if it is on or off…
Out of Thailand and inside the “Dark Continent”, namely somewhere in South Africa one may encounter perhaps a rather atypical tradition, one which gets to be associated with the so called Cape Colored culture. In case you’ve like ever heard about the term “passion gap” and you’ve wondered what this meant…I am here to translate this to you…it involves the removal of the front teeth some women willingly adhering to this, seeking to increase passion and look more attractive in the eyes of their men. It may be just a way of avoiding tooth decay or a rather bizarre way of defining beauty or attractiveness. Wish to encounter this “Passion Gap”? Move to Western Cape Province!
Since it gets to be also related to passion I cannot avoid mentioning what I shall call the kissing ban. As passionate as women in Cape Province may prove to be, as bare of any zest the French and British authorities seem when finding out that when on train station platforms in England or France, no kissing is allowed. Quite logical if we were to discover that this is a measure just meant to stop any train delays whatsoever and when thinking well I guess stolen kisses do lead to an increase in passion! At times at least!
Yet, as love is said to pass through one’s stomach, dinner etiquette may prove to be equally important, especially when travelling to countries where it is expected and all the more wished and polite to be late. And if punctuality is not your strength point then you cannot but welcome such a custom, can you? Only if you plan on being invited to dinner in Tanzania, a place where it is expected that you politely be late 15 to 30 minutes! The same thing happens in Argentina, yet here it is said that you should pop in 30-60 minutes late. All the more time for the ladies to settle the last details, wouldn’t you agree?
And if such customs may not be that strange, in fact mandatory to some not being strong on punctuality, then some funeral and marriage traditions grounded in the daily lives of some countries around the world do certainly hold the attribute of weirdness in them. When thinking that in Cali, Columbia a woman gets the privilege to have sex with her husband for the first time under the introspective eye of the mother, one cannot but thank God for having been blessed with intimacy. So…you’d better never fall in love with a man living there as the laws may demand you to abide to it! And enough with intimacy…too much any way!
Jumping, spitting as the members of the Maori tribe are said to greet each other or showing one’s tongue also intending to salute the others, being late for dinner, insulting people by patting their children on the head or showing the wrong side of your hand or pointing in the wrong direction-these get to be just a few things considered by many to be taboos.
Once being introduced to such traditions, one gets to say like Henry Miller once said “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Though I guess St. Augustine’s words also apply as he was the one who said that “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”11