A Tale of Two Cities

I’m going to be honest, I don’t really understand most technology. The social awkwardness I feel going into a new restaurant where pretentious waiters refuse to explain a strange new way of dining or going to a gig where I am not personal friends with the band and everyone stares at you with that ‘you didn’t go to school/college/university/work with us – who the hell are you’ suspicion extends to cyber etiquette. I feel slightly like I’m taking a shit in someone’s back garden. It’s just that the need to find out if I can still mould ideas into coherent sentences is greater.

As the previous admission of social awkwardness may suggest, I am not always the most adventurous or confident of people and am usually in awe of the new. This has had to change; I upped sticks from Glasgow to Mexico City. Actually, my limited (despite the smugness I feel in class when I understand almost all of what’s going on) spanish has been a great help on this front; I won’t notice when people think I’m being an idiot (also, ‘idiot’ is easily synonymous with ‘foreign’ in this context). Having said that, people tend to smile and be a lot friendlier here. You go into a shop and stumble over your previously prepared statement and the assistants gibber back to you at an incomprehensible speed. ‘Lo siento,   solo hablo un poco español. ¿Puede habla mas despacio, por favor?’ does not slow them down, but it also doesn’t stop the smiling. I have worked with people back home who would be ready to punch someone for tripping over english when there’s a large queue behind them. Thus far I’ve only seen one gloomy bitch (in Superama) and a couple of truly unhelpful folk (at the pharmacy in Mega).

When I was back in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago the grey unfriendliest felt overwhelming. We’re known for being pretty damn friendly in UK terms but it fell so short of here. Folk in my close would desperately scurry up to their door if they heard the sound of another person’s footsteps; in my building here I would surprised if I saw someone and they *didn’t* say buenos días or buenas tardes/noches (there were only 4 floors in my close; 10 floors in the building here).

Now, I am not saying that I can sum up an entire people from the way some folks’ faces are arranged. ‘One may smile and smile and be a villain’ after all. I have seen enough corruption and backstabbing from said smiling villains first hand myself (never mind all the stuff I’ve read, particularly during election time) to have a bit of a growing suspicion. There seems to be a greater emphasis on show here – if you’re in a couple and not groping each other constantly it is assumed you hate each other. I’d like to know what’s under all of that, but I doubt I ever will really.

I doubt I will ever know most of this city and that is something that I love about this place. Having worked in almost every library in Glasgow I feel like I know the place pretty well. I feel like I’ve been to most of the places. I feel like I understand most of the people. Here I don’t have a clue and I constantly feel like there’s so much more to see and experience. A lot of it isn’t good, but as a devotee to the idea that I’m a child of Marx and Coca Cola I love the contrasts.

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