Thursday, January 9, 2014

Cultural Obsessions

I read somewhere on travel.stackexchange that one of the things to do to learn about someone's culture is asking them what their mom used to cook for breakfast. I can't find the link right now.

A much better thing to ask is to ask what a person's culture is obsessive about. For example,

  • Easter Islanders obsessed about building big stone bodies.
  • The Yapese obsessed about stone money.
  • The Indo-Aryans were obsessed about cows.
  • Central Asian tribes in the times of Changez Khan were obsessed with raiding India, China and Persia.
  • Present urban folk in any place are obsessed about vacations :-)

These are just examples. Presently, in the post-modern age of specialization, people are too varied to have cultural obsessions. But this is not entirely true. Abscence of evidence is not evidence of abscence.

That said, if you ever ask someone about any obsession of their culture, make sure you do that tactfully.

30 comments:

  1. lol what, big stone body building isn't acceptable to ask lol

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    1. Someone told me in the end, the Easter Islanders had to get to eating mice just to stay alive.

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  2. How about some people obsessed with taking money from your pocket into their pocket without doing anything?

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    1. You are a citizen of the world, SG.

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  3. haha! good post! most Indians, I think, are obsessed about getting freebies with purchases or free lunches here and there!

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    1. I don't want freebies with purchases, only freebies.

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  4. LOL. If you leave it up to breakfast then all we eat is the quick American cereal and milk on the run.

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    1. I think this quick breakfast, or no breakfast at all is a worldwide phenomenon.

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  5. Now a days it seems people I know are obsessed with the strangest things. There used to be a tv show back in 2009 called Obsessed. It didn't last long but it goes to show that there are so many people obsessed with something that they thought they could make a tv show out of it.

    As for breakfast...my mom fed us cereal..and I still eat cold cereal for breakfast.

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    1. In the end, we are all obsessed. Even biologically and psychologically.

      My mom made us hot rotis/paranthas with veggies/curd etc. mostly.

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  6. Replies
    1. It would take someone from our culture to understand what you just said :-)

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  7. Here's an interesting one. Many people in the UK, and in fact I think in other countries are obsessed by so called "famous personalities" who often have little or no actual desrved merit to their fame.

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    1. Yes, this is true. This is what Weber calls Leadership by Charisma. Do read about Christopher Columbus if you can.

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  8. Interesting take. Good post.

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  9. Interesting. But as you said it needs to be handled tactfully. If they are obsessed with picking up a fight with anyone who asks them any kind of questions, God bless them! :-)

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  10. The breakfast question could be very interesting. Every Sunday (when I lived at home) my mom made scrambled eggs, bacon, and biscuits with gravy *drool*

    When I stayed in France I had toast with real jam (none of that smuckers stuff), some fruit, yogurt, and a mug of hot cocoa every morning.

    It's not a huge jump, but interesting none the less :)

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    1. I hope you had something different at least on some days.

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  11. Nice observation about breakfast:)

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  12. hahhahah but for us, our culture itself has many cultures, what can we possibly talk about :P ...

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    1. Lots of things, most are serious and LoL-able at the same time:
      - everybody wanting a state for themselves
      - everybody wanting to kick 'outsiders' out of their states
      - everybody criticizing everybody else (but I read they like the blame game in other countries too)
      - everybody making fun of all other cultures
      ..... the list is probably endless :-)

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  13. CONGRATUALATIONSSSS :P , - http://sameoldnewstuff.blogspot.in/2014/02/tmi.html

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  14. My parents just make coffee in the morning. I don't like coffee, so I didn't have some breakfast. Now I live alone and I eat bread or fruits.
    Talking about culture... In my state people eat a lot of black beans and barbecue. I don't like barbecue. But people here say if you don't eat black beans and meat, you'll die from lack of nutrients. And when I say, for example "Grandmother, in other regions people don't eat black beans and barbecue" and she always says "So, they will die". Can you imagine?

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  15. I can't imagine how Americans can eat eggs and bacon for breakfast. Eggs and bacon are very heavy food, I think I couldn't eat both at the same time in any meal... I usually just drink a juice in the morning!

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  16. Very interesting. Indians as travelers are renowned/infamous for talking loudly, jumping queues, dirtying restrooms. On one vacation, the Indian group monopolized the breakfast room to the extent that that next day we were shifted entirely to another dining room.
    It was very insulting. It reminded me of 'Indians and dogs not allowed.'

    But 'culture' can get caricatured. Like we are still the land of snake charmers to many people.

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