Lil’P was sometimes asked if he was a royalty member because of his long name. His five long names were always subject of smiles when filling in forms and people always asked which was the weird country where one could have such a long name. Asking if people really wanted his full name also raised eyebrows so there was no escape from it. But there were a lot more cultural differences, some more peculiar than others.

Something that got lil’P confuse right at start, was the cheek kissing. While he was used to give two, one in each face – something he believe to be a standard anywhere – Dutch gave three. At first, it didn’t seem to be a big problem, actually it was a good extra, but that cultural aspect was about to become more tricky than he initially thought.
Assuming that only Dutch had differences on the cheek kissing, was his first mistake. Although Italians gave two as lil’P, they start with the left cheek – something lil’P found to be awfully confusing and counterintuitive. Almost as confusing as the ones who only gave one kiss leaving lil’P floating on the atmosphere; probably the same feeling Dutch must have when waiting for a non-existing third kiss.
So, what to do? Well, if it was Netherlands, then everybody should give three, just like Dutch, that seemed like a good solution. There, problem solved! Or maybe not – then he found out that some German don’t kiss at all and may see it in a offensive way. Things got even worse when he realized that some French guys even tried to kiss other males on the cheek which made a lot of people uncomfortable. Actually, even within the same country people could act in different ways regarding cheek kissing, so lil’P ended up, like most people, trying to do his best on those initial seconds when knowing someone new, trying to evaluate their movements the best way he could and act accordingly. If things went wrong, it was a good quick-start subject of conversation anyway.

Living with a bunch of foreigners was one of the best parts of it all. Soon the kitchen became a international meeting point where people spent a big part of their time hanging around, knowing each other better. After everybody got over the fact of be living in a place with a name that most foreign couldn’t pronounce correctly – Oranjerivierdreef, people started assimilating the gastronomic differences – finding a common taste was a challenging task in the first days, but soon they started trying other things and having some good (and sometimes very bad) surprises. Lil’P kitchen skills weren’t that good but apparently his Portuguese typical way of cooking rice with fried onion seemed to surprise everybody which wasn’t very hard to do since most people confessed not to know how to cook edible rice without a rice cooker anyway.
Shopping was also sometimes tricky but there was always a German around to help avoiding later surprises like the classics meat&sugar or reinventing the sour-milk concept. Everybody seem to got addicted to the Dutch vla pretty quick as the kitchen fridge soon became a display of all the varieties: vanilla and chocolate seemed to be the most popular flavours, but caramel, stracciatella and tiramisu also had some fans.

But the kitchen wasn’t just a place to cook and hang around – it was also where everybody could show their artistic skills. The building was very old and nobody really care what happened to the walls, as long it didn’t offend anyone, so the kitchen walls soon turned into a canvas. Some more artistic than others, everybody had the chance to express themselves on the walls, in particular, everybody had fun adding items to the things we love and things we loathe about life lists.

(to be continued)

2 strings to “dreams do come true (IV)”

  1. José Pedro Magalhães says

    Ahhhhhh… então foram VOCÊS que escreveram aquilo na parede… pois olha, já não existe, a cozinha foi pintada em Outubro :-) mas eu ainda cheguei a ver lá escrito “saudade” ;-) Anyway, ainda tenho uma fotografia:
    De resto… ao ler-te encontro tudo aquilo com que me confrontei também (agora já não considero que me confronto… habituei-me). Mas por exemplo hoje, tive de cumprimentar a mãe de um colega meu português e foi estranho dar-lhe apenas 2 beijos!… Uma pessoa habitua-se a tudo.
    E sim, ninguém sabe fazer arroz, limitam-se a metê-lo dentro de água. Depois não sabe a nada, claro…

  2. So what's about Anti-Secession says

    a good flag in “things we love”!!!