Wednesday, 24 November 2010

God Save the English Part 2

English sauage egg spaghettiImage via Wikipedia
Food: This is like shooting fish in a barrel. I shouldn't talk about English cuisine. Let's just say that after 4 years in England the only English food I really liked was apple crumble. I like cottage pie too but with an Italian touch.

I remember the first time I saw my English flatmate opening a can and pour the contents into a plate. To me it looked like cat food but as far as I knew she didn't have a cat. Then to my horror she started eating it. I had a look at the can. It said spaghetti hoops. It was just horrible and disgusting to me. Cat food is more appropriate.

But England never failed to surprise me every day. I found out that you also put spaghetti in cans. This is just mental. There ought to be laws. You should not put spaghetti in cans. Never. For any reason. It can't be done. It's against nature. Italians know that of all the kinds of pasta, spaghetti requires special care in cooking. It's very easy to get the timing wrong and then you can't eat them. As soon as they are cooked they should be seasoned and eaten because otherwise they get sticky and horrible. So to put them in a can is out of the question.
But just when I thought it couldn't be worse than this, my then friend Mark told me one day he had ravioli on toast for lunch. What? I said with my usual horrified expression. He explained me that he opened a can of ravioli and poured it on toast. I almost fainted! Images of my mum and my nan spending afternoons making homemade ravioli came into my mind and a certain feeling of disgust and pity filled my stomach. Ravioli in a can? Why do you do such things England? Why don't you love your people enough to nurture them with proper food? That day I honestly felt pity for Mark who had never tasted proper ravioli and according to me never had proper food. Thank God I saved the man from English cans and opened to him the paradise of Italian cuisine and my mum's delicious lasagne.

Loose shoes: In England you seem to have very loose shoes that you can take off at anytime and everywhere. This is something else that really shocked me and my friends during the first weeks. Students would take their shoes off during the lecture, in the library, in the cafe, everywhere. But it wasn't just students, I noticed it in the town library as well as in other public places. Why? It's not as if it's that hot in England that you need to take them off all the time and then it's just not very nice to do it in public. This is something that made us quite uncomfortable, especially if we were talking to the person who suddenly took their shoes off. A very uneasy feeling. And yes Mark, quite unihygienic too, as your countrymen do like fiddling with their feet quite a lot.
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Saturday, 6 November 2010

God Save the English

Here is my revenge Mark!

I lived in England for 4 years. No day passed without me thinking "What is this?", " How is it possible..." or "Why would anyone do that...", and very very often "Bloody weather!". I missed my country a lot. I missed the changing of the seasons; in England there's only one season, the rainy one. Obviously I missed the food, the sunshine, my family and friends and more generally the personal contact. But I stayed, and I 'm happy I did because England gave me the man of my life, my lovely husband, soon to be a lovely father.

Talk to your baby: This is actually something I came across a few days ago reading the Guardian online. But it provoked my usual reaction of "How is it possible? Why? What?". Basically, the article talks about the difficulty that English parents encounter in talking with their little ones. It starts with a question: "Do we need to talk to our babies?". And I say: "Do we need such a question?" Of course you need to talk to them, but most importantly, it's not a need, it's a pleasure to talk to babies. Apparently not for the English. They need to be taught, they need resources and materials from the National Literacy Trust to talk to their offspring. This left me quite bewildered as my husband would say. Personally, I just need my baby. I started talking to him when I was 4 months pregnant and I've carried on since then.
TTYB aims to help parents and carers to get
over the embarrassment factor – "I feel stupid talking to my baby" – by showing
how much difference such communication makes to emotional and learning skills
later in life.
I can't believe a parent could feel embarassed talking to their baby. After 4 years in England I can believe an English parent could feel that way. But it's still something beyond me.
"facing-baby" buggies. A simple idea, but one which – if well executed and
developed in large enough numbers – can have a disproportionate impact on
countless lives.
You can rotate the buggies as much as you like but you still need to talk to your babies. That's what makes the big difference. Good grief, how on earth can you find talking to your baby embarassing or even stupid? What can actually have a disproportionate impact on your babies is if you talk to them! Not if you rotate the bloody buggy! I simply can't get my head around it and this happened quite a lot during my stay in England.

Taps: Yes, taps. Cold water, hot water: that kind of tap. Let's talk about it. My dad coming out of my loo exclaimed: "Bloody hell Monica, am I back in Pakistan? Didn't progress reach this country?". Wise words dad, wise words. I wish I had an answer.

We had a mixer in the kitchen sink, but even with that I could tell you which side the hot water and the cold water were flowing out without mixing. Impressive! Why on earth you've got this separate taps business I don't know. Why? Why? Is it that difficult to make a mixer in England? In the morning I always had to decide whether to scald my face with hot water or freeze it with cold water because even if I decided to open both taps and mix the water in the sink, by some kind of English magic the water wouldn't mix properly. In England the hot and cold water are parted like the Red Sea. So very annoying! I wish someone could explain to me the existence of separate taps in the 21th century in a progressive country like England. To me it's a mystery.

Door opening etiquette: Well, this is something me and my friends found pretty annoying during the first few weeks in England. We got used to it in the end but it was still a bit/quite annoying. The very first week we slammed doors in the faces of many English people but we noticed that people opened doors for us, so we gathered that something was wrong. Hard to say what. So we applied the door opening etiquette. But it was annoying. Reminding yourself at any given point in the day when passing through a door to look behind you in case anybody was around so that you can leave it open. And there are such heavy doors in England! At least build lighter ones if you want me to keep them open for you every time I pass through them. Going to the library on rainy days was always a nightmare. You had to hold an umbrella and books and make sure to hold the heavy door open for the person behind you. Don't get me wrong (yeah, yeah - and the rest - ed.), it's not as if we enjoy slamming doors on people's faces in Italy. We leave them open if someone is really close or if someone has problems getting the door open. In England you leave doors open for people miles away from you! That's too much! I would enjoy it a bit more if you made lighter doors.

The Rinsing business: This is something that really shocked me and my Spanish, French and German friends. To find out that English people don't rinse when they wash up. Gosh, that's very very strange at the very least. And very unhygienic (it was only a matter of time - ed.) at the most. Do you realize, English people, that you are actually drinking and eating soap? The fact that after a bit the foam disappears from the dishes doesn't mean that they are clean! I just can't think about all the bacteria breeding on those dishes and I just can't think about how many times I've eaten and drank from those glasses. Before drinking or eating, I would make a mental (mental is right - ed.) sign of the cross and recommend my body to God. This is not just me being paranoid. All of my European friends agreed with me and they all had the same shocked face as I still have when I think about it. This again is something I can't get my head around.
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