30 April, Foz do Iguacu
It was a bit like seeing me if I stayed at the university. She even studies the thing I originally wanted to.
The ‘thought culture’ was the very first thing I noticed when we met. I asked whether it was easy for her to learn spanish since she is italian. Her answer was long, politically correct, inclusive of all minorities and utterly objective to the point it was not even her answer, and the substance of it was twisted and turned in such a way that you could not pinpoint what was the meaning of the litany she said to actually answer in such a way that would create a conversation. That is the form of speech you learn when you study science. It would have come off as rude to me, you know, it was a small talk, not a lab report, and it is pathological to spread the frame of thought you are required to perform in your working class gig into the way you talk to people outside of that gig.
But it was much like the case of Aeroflot cabin crew that gets all the shit for not being all my dear and oooh I’m so sorry darling while they actually attend the passengers. They just still come off as rude because of the way of their english but I am a slav as well, so I know it is not a good idea to consider people your dears in a slavic country, hence you don’t really say it unless you particularly concentrate on it. So I never judge Aeroflot girls and I didn’t judge this italian girl either — I had studied science years ago too.
Now I know. I should have judged her.
The objective independent truth
That is precisely what they teach them. That there is the objective truth that exists independently of us and is waiting for us to discover it, and the natural scientists do the hard work of coming closer and closer to this single truth. We are supposed to be almost there, almost at the holy grail and inches from the meaning of life, universe and everything. I am not kidding, it can be seen on iai.tv often — these people actually believe it. Even more so, they extend this idea onto everything else they experience, so that in their mind we all live one single same-life: they believe that several people doing the same thing must come to the same conclusion and if not, the minority is mistaken.
I have already written about it. Almost everybody who goes abroad these days returns back home and the only result of the journey to him is that now he knows for sure there’s no place like home. I also said before I tried to come back because I was prospering better outside of europe but I knew this was an unlikely thing (it “never” happens) so I concluded my perception must be mistaken (you see?) — but it wasn’t working, I couldn’t live in europe anymore. And here it came, in a hotel lobby after dinner.
She told me an anecdote about a group of paraguayan people she hangs out with. How sometimes they will have a slightly rude remark on her — “that italian” — because she is a foreginer. I doubt that though, I watched her interact with people and…you know, if they ask you if you miss your parents you have to smile and say yes very much no matter what the situation with your parents is, it is a social question, they don’t really care. And if they ask how was the wild water ride you are supposed to say, it was fun but so cold, did you do that one too — or something like that, so that the other person can answer something. But that’s where she says yes I did that, I think the nicest part for most of the people was when we stopped in the middle of the valley so that everyone could take out their phones and take a picture, but it is not worth doing it again because you just get splashed with cold water all over the place and you don’t have the time to observe the nature around properly. It does come off rude, even to me. First thing is — what are you supposed to say to this? What did she actually say? Was it good or not? Other thing is it looks like she doesn’t really want to talk to you because otherwise why doesn’t she just say what she thinks?
So I don’t know how much of her problem is that she’s a foreigner. In my opinion most of it, most, will be the manners. But anyway, she told me: ,,I lived in several countries, I always liked it very much, but there is this one thing I found out during my travels,” lo and behold, “If you weren’t born here they will never take you in as a local.” She said it as if that was supposed to be a problem. I laughed, “Yes, that is not something that would contribute to my quality of life as I don’t work here.” She said: ,,Oh yeah. It’s funny how sometimes people can live somewhere for quite some time until they learn the truth.” Yeah, TheTruth™, that would be a red flag. For what it’s worth, I do think there is one reality but I don’t think that means we are all bound to discover the same portion of it. She continued — ,,so you probably will not agree with this but for life there really is no place like home.”
I said: “I know that everybody comes to this conclusion for some reason so I don’t judge it but no, I didn’t come to the same thing,” to which she said:
,,Yeah, you just need more time to come to that.”
Dang bitch. ,,No. I come from a very poor area of czech republic. Nobody wanted to stay there and also everyone who was able to earn a little money left. Most girls from my school got married abroad, most boys left for work. Those who had to stay turned into bitter alcoholics. It’s an insult to them to see anyone who lived abroad because only after few years the differences already show up — you know, they cannot get good food, no fresh meat, rotten veggies and so, they have to get treated like shit at work because otherwise there is a line of other low wage workers eager to get hired, and they earn shit for their hard work for which a foreign company gets the credit. People who left are healthier, don’t age so fast…We have not been 30 yet and it can already be seen. So, those of my former friends who stayed are now the ‘patriots’ who suffer to carry their country on their backs. They hate everyone who gave the preference to their own life rather than to where the society led them. So… I know I will never be taken as a local here but I also know there is nothing to come back to.”
I was surprised to realize later that I held my head high even though I didn’t concentrate on that during all this. In the past the default mindset for me would have been ashamed. I doubt she believed though, but I’m still glad I said it. It’s probably too outlandish. We’re both from european federation after all, aaand that means something, rite? Hah.
Anyway, it probably did something to her, because since that weird situations started coming up, as if she was trying to solidify her own truth. Like she complaining about paraguayan cheese. The lat am climate is bad for yeast so cheese and pastry is different here. The queso paraguay brand of cheese is particularly strange because it only tastes good when melted. It is normal cheese, something slightly harder than mozzarella but it still melts easily. I like it and eat it every day, she never eats it and gives her share away to her paraguayan friends who all love it. ,,It is such a shame country with such a big beef production cannot make a proper cheese,” she said. To my remark about yeast she said, ,,ok, but on the industry level they would certainly be able to create the conditions.” Yes but that’s a lot of additional expense. People love the local cheese so there is no reason to change it, it doesn’t matter that in the eyes of an italian this is not a proper cheese. — But she didn’t acknowledge it. Even more peculiar situation occured on our return, where she paid the cab man, made an arrangement with him to come for her again the next morning, cab left, she realized she gave him 2000Gs less than he wanted. I said you give it to him tomorrow but she insisted on calling him back to settle it right away. She honestly didn’t get he won’t return for 0.36USD to be late for the next customer. She called him. He told her to give him the money in the morning. Why am I saying this? Because now I understand how university graduates are very much educated yet in the practical ways utterly stupid. It still holds true if she only did that because she didn’t want to agree with someone like me.
So I think that’s the whole secret of south america, cracked in one weekend in Brazil. The crucial skills for surving here are to be able to live with a problem, with a lesser of two evils, and to be able to make unpopular decisions for your own life. For the choice of location, it is simply more convenient to live somewhere where people don’t know anything about modern european society so they cannot force you into outdated social constructs that didn’t work for you. Aaaand money, money helps a lot. MAKE money money money, MAKE money money money moNEY! I think I can shut off this place now.
So just to say why I should have been judging her…I would have been more upfront. Maybe the conversation would have been juicier.
Dress the part and go big or go home. That’s all.