Friday, October 23, 2009

Good Manners

Conde Nast Traveler is running a helpful series called Etiquette 101 and covers eating, drinking, etc. in major countries in the world. This month? Think Before You Speak.

In retrospect, their advice really isn't too different from what I learned, growing up the Midwest. The Big Three were: never discuss politics, religion or how to bring up children. Slightly behind, but of almost equal importance: never discuss money -- your own or someone else's; don't even ask someone where they live because it could be an economic indicator. This is also a throwback to the Wild West where most people preferred to travel in anonymity (often for good reason.)

For specifics, got to I'll save you the effort.

The Don'ts are the same as in the Midwest; what changes are the Do's.

Egypt - the country's cultural relics and historical importance
Israel - as a thriving democracy; the quality and freshness of the food.
South Africa - Nelson Mandela; equal rights and relative prosperity.
Brazil - music is universally loved so praise a song or ask if the Brazilian can recommend a good group.
Canada - Hockey!
Mexico - Marriage and family rites such as the quinceanero.
Australia/New Zealand - Australian football and the openness of the people.
China - the success of the Olympics
Japan - all the ultra-modern designs and conveniences - their vending machines come to mind.
Thailand - talk about their relative prosperity
France - The food! What else?
Germany - try to speak a little German; know a little about the country.
Ireland - The Irish love us - talk about the US - Irish connection.
Russian - Russia's entrepreneurial streak (keep your tongue firmly in your cheek - Russian oligarchs? Russian Mafia?)

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