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Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Metamorphoses of the Mountain
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cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 30th, 2010 05:17 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
What a great travelogue! My sole experience of Italy was a very short trip there en route to a conference in Austria. Because it was not long after September 11th, 2001, though, and I flew into and out of Venice, I had a very rich -- and unsettling -- time there. I have been meaning to write about the whole trip. If I ever find the opportunity, I will.

Part of the longer story, including the Austria portion of the trip, is an amusing incident in which an Austrian leather craftsman, who was selling hand-tooled mobile phone cases and the like, got very mad at me for taking a photograph of his handiwork. I apologized and walked away. But then I started to get retroactively annoyed at his rudeness, so I headed back to confront him.

"You know," I said in German, "I was only taking a photo to show my wife and daughter how beautiful your work is. And I was thinking of buying them each a little something. It's not like I know you or live around here. I'm only in Europe for a few days and was hoping to look around a bit when I wasn't at my conference. I wish I'd spent my valuable minutes somewhere else."

The man was obviously startled.

"You are a tourist? Where from?" His Austrian accent was thick.

I couldn't figure out why he would be surprised to have a tourist looking over his work, but figured business must have been slow since 9/11.

"The United States," I answered.

"You are not German?"

I was secretly delighted that he had taken me for a native speaker, albeit one with a very different accent than his own.

"No, no. I'm from Arizona."

At this point, the man began to apologize for his initial lack of hospitality and went on to explain that he had assumed I was a German "spy" working for his competitor in the next town over, photographing his latest designs so that they could be copied.

I laughed and wished him well. Only when it was too late to turn back did I realize that I should have bought something to commemorate the odd exchange.
duccio From: duccio Date: August 30th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I came across those unfriendly bores too, of course. Fortunately, experiences with that type are usually short and soon expunged from my memory. I must say though, that I see lots of people in this country who treat foreign visitors with rudeness and even contempt, and that's the white ones. The brown foreigners probably think we are the most rude people on earth. Maybe we are: ground zero mosque and all that.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: August 30th, 2010 05:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's not a good time in American history. In my experience, though, the biggest problem vis-a-vis our treatment of foreigners is the ignorance of other cultures that so many of us demonstrate, rather than outright rudeness.
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