søndag, marts 09, 2008

Dirty on the outside, clean on the inside?

When I used to live in Lisbon, I would marvel at my colleagues (mostly British), who would remark on how dirty the city was, and how cramped, and how generally inhospitable. I didn't agree...but when I'd go somewhere else, back to the States, for example, I'd find that for the first day or two after my return, I'd notice all of that...especially the dirt. As if the whole city, every building, could stand a minor sandblasting, just to clean it up.

I'm feeling the same way now about Barcelona, and I must confess, I adore it. It makes me feel at home. It also reminds me of a factoid I once heard (I'm sure if I had more internet time, I could find a reference or two to link to) about outside cultures and inside cultures. According to this theory, Portugal, and Spain, and of course there are others, are more concerned about appearances inside the circle of friends and family. What this means is that it's not so important how dirty things are in public spaces, but if you go into someone's house, you can expect immaculate, you can eat off the floor, levels of cleanliness. By contrast, in an outside culture (I believe the example I heard was Germany), it's very important to present a good appearance, so public spaces are very very clean, but inside homes, it's not such a big deal. I can only vouch for my one German roommate, who definitely only cleaned for company, but beyond that, couldn't really say.

What I have grown to realize is that I like the dirty on the outside way of doing things. I'm fond of dilapidation. It looks like somewhere where people actually live. Maybe it's because I fit into a totally separate criteria, that of the not too fussed about cleaning either outside or inside.

I'd welcome other opinions on this. Any thoughts? Anyone?

3 kommentarer:

Devil Mood sagde ...

Hey, there you are! How are the Ramblas? :)

Well, I haven't lived anywhere else (I have but I don't recall) so I can't really say. But I generally feel confident about people's cleaning habits in their homes, except when I'm in a bus. I think the cities are too old and many parts of it are too ugly to look at, so we've given up trying to make a Lego city and we started getting our houses nice and comfy. I'm just speculating.

Annemarie sagde ...

So, countries where people live more outdoors (Spain, Portugal) have an inside culture, and in countries where people live more indoors (Scandinavia, Germany, the Netherlands) there's an outside culture... right? I also behave like an outside person. (this supports your hypothesis) I only clean when I receive guests in my house. So that's why I try to get friends over at least once a week. :) Time to pick up the socks from the floor and do the dishes! Have a good time in Barcelona.

kimananda sagde ...

Ms. Mood, I must say that I like the age of Portuguese cities. But yes, I mainly focus on the non-ugly parts. And I realize that a lot of what I see as charming is really just how things look when they're falling apart. I learned that by actually living in some of those charming looking old buildings! And the Ramblas were cool...it's not my favorite part of the city, but we were staying only a block off of it, which gave me a chance to give them another chance.

Annemarie, I approve of cleaning only for guests. I fit the American idea though, that it's a sign of acceptance not to clean too much...sort of like the guest is part of the family, and can handle a bit of dirt. I'm not sure if that's really the done thing in Europe...certainly not in Denmark, or at least Thor insists on cleaning for guests.