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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Walled Off

The only adults on the playground it’s possible to talk to are immigrants and African Americans. Today, for instance, I talked to a grandma from Gujarat, an African American mother, an African American grandma, and a mom-grandma duo from China. 

Not that I’m a chatty Cathy, but I feel decidedly weird standing shoulder to shoulder with another person next to a swing for 15 minutes and pretending she doesn’t exist. 

Kids are all making eye contact and trying to talk to each other, even when there is a big age difference. It’s only the adults that get scared if you smile at them. I don’t know if it’s region or social class that’s causing this but it’s tiresome.

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18 thoughts on “Walled Off

  1. OT: I just finished watching the Icelandic TV series Trapped (Ófærð) a sort of murder mystery and it finally occurred to me in the last episode that it is crisis literature (or the limited tv series equivalent). It should have hit me in the face in the first episode, but I’m slow about these things sometimes….

    I highly recommend it. Now I’m wondering if there will be an American remake and if so just how terrible it will be (probably the normal looking police officers will be played by much younger, fitter more attractive looking people who can’t act).

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  2. But on the OP: I think you can talk to other people in the South, the West, and New York City. Otherwise in US people seem to think it is very weird. Also, saying hello, or smiling, or holding door or people got me some very weird responses in Latvia. Latvians thought it was normal (and would do it themselves) but there were entities from unidentified countries who acted really suspicious if not downright affronted or scared.

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    • Probably Russian speakers. I freaked out massively when I first moved to Canada and people said hi. I thought they wanted to rob me.

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      • Russian speakers seemed to be scared of each other, too. Afraid to approach to ask really necessary questions, like directions. I know because they always tried me first, a foreigner who might know some Russian & would save them from having to ask a real Russian speaker. AND they thought it was allowable, but strange that I would go to Russian run cafeterias.

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        • Absolutely. 🙂 I’ll never ask for directions, ever, ever. It’s a learned habit. Another learned habit is to get very scared when somebody knocks at the door. N and I freak out every time it happens. It’s ingrained.

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      • The Dark Avenger on said:

        From the fine folks who invented the word korova:

        Resourceful (Gulag-ed)inmates soon had a splendid solution for this, however. While they couldn’t exactly pack a boxed lunch for their escape, they could pack something even more nourishing that — best of all! — didn’t even need to be carried. We’re referring, of course, to a korova: some simple-hearted, trusting (and preferably chubby) fellow inmate whom you invited to join your escape. Then, once you both made it out and into the icy wastelands, this sorry dupe became an unwitting slaughter animal, much like an actual cow.

        http://www.cracked.com/article_23248_6-foreign-words-so-dark-there-are-no-english-equivalents.html

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    • “Also, saying hello, or smiling, or holding door or people got me some very weird responses in Latvia.”

      It’s very mixed in Poland. Holding doors open is fine, especially men for women or the younger for the older, but you don’t say hi or nod to people you don’t know (either by name or by seeing them everyday). Smiling at strangers used to be considered aggressive (the assumption is you’re laughing at them) though this has lessened a lot.

      Asking for directions is okay (I get asked frequently). But abroad Polish people tend to actively avoid each other.

      Starting up conversations with strangers on the train used to be normal but is less common now. On other forms of transport it almost never happens. Strangers sometimes start conversations waiting for the doctor but not always. When leaving the doctor’s office and the appointment area you say ‘goodbye’ to people waiting.

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      • Fascinating!

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      • Russian speakers love to start conversations. But these conversations are so rude and invasive that I prefer to avoid them.

        My mother starts conversations with Russian speakers with, “Who does the Crimea belong to?” And only those who give the correct answer pass to the next stage. 🙂

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