27 January, 2010

Cross-cultural conversations

Corrado, from Genoa, Italy, was my seatmate on the way back from the immense four-story AnkaMall shopping center.

Corrado: When i think of Maine, i think of Jessica Fletcher.
Me: Who?
Corrado: "Murder, She Wrote". A character, she was from Maine.
Me (drawing an utter blank): Oh. When i think of Genoa, i think of Salami.
Corrado: What?
Me: Salami, the meat. (I gesture, trying to conjure a loaf of salami in the air.)
Corrado: Huh. You're the second American who has said that to me. We don't have such meat.
Me: Okay, then we're even.

Genoa is, i learn, locally known for pesto sauce. More than that, i learn from this bus-ride dialogue the things we think of first in relation to another culture - might not represent them at all. We were posing for a group photo this morning, and someone called to Sofia in the back row - "Come on, we can't see you there. Swedes are supposed to be tall!" And so it is we live, learn, and laugh at our stereotypes.