Monday, February 28, 2011

The Ugly American

I don't know how many of you have read the book, "The Ugly American", but I would highly recommend it, especially if you plan to travel abroad. One of my biggest pet peaves is reading blogs of people who go to other countries and then spend their entire blog time complaining and criticizing the culture. I'm currently reading such a blog, and it really irritates me. Her latest blog criticized an entire restaurant meal in China. I showed my husband the pictures of the food, and he said, "Wow, they have a deluxe meal!" I said, "Just wait until I read to you what she wrote about it." She complained about every dish, and told how she tasted things, then shoved them to the side of her plate without finishing them. Every one of her blog posts criticizes some aspect of China culture. This idea that only America does things "the right way" is all too common, and really is embarassing.

Today I was walking down the walking path and noticed a chinese woman picking a sack full of some kind of weed. I was very curious, so approached her and asked her what she was picking. Just as I suspected, she didn't speak English, so I asked her (in chinese) if she spoke chinese. When she said she did, I asked what she was picking. She said the name of the plant, but I wasn't familiar with that chinese word. I asked her if it was edible. She said it was for healing the legs. Someone else might laugh at her, but unless you understand chinese medicine, you shouldn't laugh. You can't shoot her down for something that is common in her culture. I have to admit that I was a little disappointed though. I was hoping she was going to share some vegetable delicacy with me. :)


Looney said...

I have seen some bad attitudes with the foreigners, but they seem to be better at not making a scene. The other thing I have witnessed is Americans overseas behaving with all the gracefulness of Inspector Clouseau.

Ramana Rajgopaul said...

I have read the book and have met some typical ugly specimens while on travel as well as in the USA. The vast majority of the others that I have had the pleasure of meeting have been the opposite of ugly - beautiful! But don't think that it is unique to your fellow countrymen. There are ugly specimens from every country including mine. I guess it is a psychological thing not being able to enjoy variety and differences.

Dee Ice Hole said...

I do not enjoy a variety of differences and don't believe that is a requirement to live in this world. I try hard to be polite and treat people with respect but there are just some foods I ain't a gonna eat.

Mr. Giggles said...

I may not have tried as many "delicacies" as your husband, but I am always open to new experiences, especially new cultures. I have only visited a handful of foreign countries, but loved my time, and fully enjoyed the people! And isn't it ironic that this comes right on the heels of me asking you how to make stir-fry taste more authentic?

Delirious said...

Dee Ice, There are many things I won't eat also, but I try not to have the "how could you people even think of eating that?" attitude. ;) My husband is like the people in Hong Kong who say something like, "eat everything with four legs except a table" :D And he doesn't just eat it, he enjoys it! I would have to say that not everything he has enjoyed, but he eats it anyway.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi D,

I am profoundly shocked at that blog, you've described *nodding*. Why go to other countries if you are not going to respect other people's culture and try to understand the beauty in diversity? If one is going to be ignorant than that individual should just stay at home with its petty self.

Aaah, you should've offered the link to that blog: I would love to offer some advice to that pseudo-lady.

It is amazing what Chinese medicine can do! I respect it a lot, specially because they work with our energy fields (known by many as chakras)...excellent stuff.

You know, despite my differences with the Chinese government I appreciate the Chinese culture more and more - I am learning a lot of things from it. Besides, the people is starting to fight for democracy as well, which makes me extremely proud and supportive of the Chinese citizens right now :D.

Here's to diversity!

Inklings said...

I ,too, love diversity, Max! I grew up in a large city with many cultures, and I loved doing so. I wish we could all just accept each others cultures for what they are and get along with each other.