Sunday, March 12, 2006

"I love you"

I had a most interesting international evening last night. One of the Russian fellows invited me to a dinner with her Danish boyfriend and his Japanese colleague. The topics of conversation varied throughout the evening, but what made the night so interesting was that with every new topic we each ended up sharing how the issue was seen in each country. To be honest though, I found the thoughts of the Japanese girl most interesting. They reminded me once again to not take what I know as normal as the universal norm.

Some highlights:

- I casually mentioned that I would be going home for Easter. “And what exactly is Easter,” Iono asked? “Why are there eggs in all the stores right now?”

- “Is David (Danish) really going to prepare dinner? Japanese men would never do that. And does he clean the house too?”

- I also learned that Japanese men don’t usually eat sweets because it is considered unmanly. Iono said she had never seen her dad eat dessert. If a woman eats dessert, apparently the man drinks tea. Never in a million years would I guess such a thing could be cultural!

But the most interesting part of the evening came when Iono brought up how strange Japanese people think it is when American parents, in movies, say to their children that they are proud of them. Equally funny, she said, was when Americans say “I love you” to one another. Lena and David both agreed that saying “I’m proud of you” is not something that is said in Russia and Denmark and “I love you” is said sometimes but certainly less than in the States. I can understand how the very perfunctory “love you babe” exchanged between friends might sound funny to foreign ears, but not saying “I love you” or “I’m proud of you” to dear friends and family caught me off guard. Lena and Iono both said not saying “I’m proud of you” stems from an idea of always trying to do better and not allowing your children to be too prideful. I can understand that. Whether you chalk it up to “crazy Americans” or “the American spirit,” I am partial to “I love you” and “I’m proud of you” and plan to keep saying both:-)


At 4:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I go to India, my relatives make fun of me for always saying "thank you." They think it is silly to say thank you after every little thing. Perhaps us Americans are just more expressive? Although, I have heard from non-americans that even though we say "thank you" or "I love you," it doesn't mean that it is sincere. True. I don't think it is fair to say that one culture/nationality is more loving/polite than another just because they use the words to express those feelings. Another difference -- in bengali, there is no phrase (that I am aware of) for "I love you." Instead people can say, "I like you a lot." But Hindi (a cousin of bengali) does have a phrase for "I love you." This is particularly curious to me, because Bengali, like Urdu, is the language of poets. How can you have poetry without the word for love? I guess that explains why bengali poetry is full of all sorts of symbolism.

Just some ramblings . . .
AB :)

At 4:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Dad and I also used to tell you and Katie both that you were "fun to be with".
And guess what... now that you are all grown are still fun to be with!! Love and miss you, Mom


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