Monday, June 23, 2008

Dublin, written 17 June 2008

Dublin is so…familiar. It’s kind of like how I find London to be, where all the “culture” has already been exported so going to the origin, the source, results in a feeling of anticlimax. Cozy “Irish” pubs all over the place, with the stereotypical pint of Guinness (I actually for the first time ever had a mouthful that I enjoyed - but I’m still not converted).

Being in Dublin was extremely challenging in many ways as I was in totally unfamiliar territory (yes, this seems to contradict what’s written above). Meaning, I was in Keith’s home, with a very strange uncomfortable energy being exuded, with Keith’s group of friends with whom I didn’t click with instantly and immediately – it’s difficult to explain why. It all worked out as the days went on as I grew more comfortable and met people who really sparked my interest. Funnily enough, I made a fantastic connection with a Brasilian girl, Cleo, and an Italian girl who was adopted in India, Bettsina.

I find Irish people extremely reserved until you give them some alcohol, and I guess what I’m finding about English speaking countries in Europe is that there is this huge drinking culture, and yes, you always do have a choice as to whether you drink or not, but I highly dislike feeling like the only entertainment option available involves alcohol. And even more than that, it seems to be drinking for the sake of getting drunk, not to savor the beverage itself. I guess the weather contributes to this culture of people getting together to sit in a dim-lit place and consume alcohol rather than finding alternative activities. Yes, there are options – I loved stumbling into Tom’s neighbor’s barbecue, but that had a total of…1 Irish person there? Going to the cinema was good, and the World Street Performers Championships was great, but…it ended in rain. I’m absolutely completely sick of the cold and rain and wind, and want to get south south south now.

But on the other hand, Dublin was pretty amazing for how cosmopolitan it’s gotten. I guess since I don’t know much about how Ireland used to be, it doesn’t affect me as much to realize that now you can walk the streets and potentially not hear English being spoken, that in a coffee shop like Lemon Jelly where I met a lot of the workers, you’ve got people from Brasil, Argentina, India, France, Romania, Slovakia, and Ireland. And I like that you can walk everywhere…and it feels safe.

However, the lack of integration was surprising – in all of the social things we did all week, there was a conspicuous lack of Irish people – more than once, Keith was the only Irish person there. Strange, because it’s not like Japan where people can’t speak the local language so stick together. In all the gatherings where there were usually at least 5 nationalities, the common language was English. So what’s going on? It’s probably a complex phenomenon with lots of reasons, and I hope Keith finds out : )

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