I’ve been reading through other blogs to discover what other people find to write about as I have trouble noting down every thought and activity. I mean, I know it is a form of electronic diary, but even with a paper diary I could never be bothered to write down the minutiae of every single day. It struck me as absurdly boring to relate my diet, job, pastimes etc. I mention them once and surely that is more than enough. I always thought a diary was for observations, things that happened outside of the ordinary: new friends you’d met, special events, absurd conversations, new gadgets… Of course, by that token we would not have learnt as much about the 17th century, Mr Pepys’ habit was a revelation. So, in that respect, it is absolutely the right thing to do. But one man’s detailed account of everyday things is vastly different compared to the blogging undertaken by millions around the world. But then again (contradiction alert) I would love to read about the typical everyday life of an elephant mahout, a Tibetan monk, a shopkeeper in Seoul, a schoolboy in the slums of Mexico City – those that are outside the sphere of ordinary western culture where every city boasts the same shops, entertainment and lifestyles.
That is why travelling was always so fascinating to me. The chance to immerse oneself into other cultures, ideas, lifestyles, festivals. My family and I went to Paris, a place I have always adored. So much so I used to go there every single month. I was so excited, couldn’t wait to show the children Parisian architecture, expose them to french food, french fashion… The buildings were everything I could have hoped for. The food – well, the international burger chains (you know who I refer to) were busy, busy, busy while the french tabacs had only their regular clientele. Every morning we would go to the tabac on the corner for breakfast with three other locals rather than eat in the hotel with the other 20 or so hotel guests. We ate at a very wueit french restaurant specialising in cuisine from Alsace. We always took the ‘french’ option rather than international and I can tell you it was not always easy; they were hidden away, quiet and unassuming places, but that also meant we were served promptly. While the big internationals claim more and more of the fastidious tourist custom, the locals lose out, close up and you are left with an anaemic version of a once vibrant city.
I urge you, when next you go on holiday, to try the unusual, the local fare; visit the smaller shops run by locals; do what the locals do; go where the locals go. You’ve decided to holiday abroad for a reason. Take the plunge and experience the character of the country. So what if they’re difficult to understand, the menu is incomprehensible, the staff impolite or caustic, the people bashful, funny, angry… Once you get past that (and can put aside your belief that they must bend over backwards to help you) then you will learn more about the country you’ve visited other than the fact that their plumbing is different.
So you will rarely, if ever, find me blogging about what goes in my day-to-day life. These will not be historical memoirs. Nor will they be guides to living in the 21st century. They will instead be an amalgamation of the nonsense that floods my brain, and I shall try not to be too boring, pretentious or sanctimonious. This will be very hard for me as I am always right.