Sunday, October 28, 2012

Unexpected cultural differences

We were in the park the other day hunting for conkers with Léon. As always in a big city, if you aren't there the first day they fall off the trees, forget finding any, all the other kids will have beat you to it. Not willing to give up, we continued until we finally turned up one! 

Léon had wanted to try playing conkers since reading the book 'Conker' during his summer holiday. I hadn't mentioned it to Thomas and he seen the book. So while it was very obvious to me that Léon was searching for a conker with a view to conker battles in mind, Thomas had a very different idea. 

Because Thomas is Danish, Thomas assumed Léon was searching for conkers for a whole other purpose! Neither of us was aware of the other's cultural associations with conkers, despite years under the same roof and even more years as best friends! So as Léon asked if we could follow the recipe in the Conker book to harden its shell, Thomas looked more than surprised and asked how we'd force the matches in if we hardened it. Matches? We were surely talking at cross purposes?! No, just as in my culture conkers can only be used for one thing, the same is true in Denmark apparently!

Does this mean that we are culturally violent and aggressive while Scandinavians are calm, artistic and creative?! I have to say, watching both videos, I'd much rather have been a Danish child, conkers never did anything for me as a game and I always thought it a shame to destroy such beautiful and shiny little things. Have a look at these too!

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