Thursday, 28 October 2010

Cultural differences can make people rude

Now I have no problem with people being direct. In fact, people often form a less than desirable first impression of me because I am so direct. I pride myself in an honest approach that cuts through all of the crap and gets the job done, and so I figured that if I came across people of similar thinking, I would be both happy and comfortable.

And then I came to Israel.

I'm no stranger to this land. I have family here, took part in a one month long tour of the country when I was 16 and even worked as a presenter at an off shore radio station back in the early nineties. So I have always known that the locals can generally come across as quite short with people when actually, it's just a language thing.

It seems that the English language is actually quite polite. We say "please can I have a pint of beer if you'd be so kind bartender?" where other parts of the world will simply say "beer" and get the same result. They're not being rude, it's just the way their language works.

But then we need to factor in some other things. Tel Aviv is a city of some half a million people. Not bad for a country which has only been independent for 60 years. Trouble is that the roads are so full up with cars, busses, mopeds and bikes that driving there is not so much a means to an end, but more a true measure of just how big your balls are. It is bloody terrifying. Woe betide you if you don't move away from the traffic light the nano second it turns green. Indicators? Well they're a nice idea but surely a car darting into your lane is indication enough isn't it? Speed limits? I did see some numbers on the road but clearly they're more of a guideline than a rule.

And you think that's bad? Try walking on the pavement, where it seems that the same blatant disregard for personal space is in full effect. If you can make it down one stretch of road without bumping into someone, getting clipped by a bicycle or generally pissed off at just how many people are in your frickin way then I reckon they whisk you straight into Mossad to put your special skills to good use.

And so the question remains. Do they all appear rude and impatient because of a language barrier, or has a lifetime of having one's personal space invaded actually made them rude and impatient?

I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here, but I am ready to go home and enjoy a nice leisurely walk down the street with nothing but the voices in my head for company.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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