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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I have been here less than 48 hours so just a few notes on my first impressions:
  • My first conversation with a Bostonian showcased ... nothing really, but it was pretty funny. I was sitting on the bus going downtown with my bags, when this guy sitting across the aisle from me asks what the ZRH on my bags stood for. Response: Zurich, where I had come from. Bostonian: "Where is that? Africa?" And no, I don't think he was kidding.

  • Boston makes a very clean, very European city. Lots of white people with suits on the buses, little parks, community gardens, the houses not too big. Me being me (aka dumb) I decided to walk home from work yesterday though and, having had no map, got completely lost somewhere in the project area of South Boston. Basketball courts, toothless black men that greet you when you walk past, hispanic women sitting on the porch yelling to each other across the street. Some cops stopped me at some point figuring a white dude with a nice shirt and pants was in the wrong area, but I never felt threatened or anything. As far as my experience is concerned Americans tend to exaggerate the danger of these parts anyway.

  • As a side-note, this phenomena of older (especially but not exclusively), poor black men greeting you with a 'how's it goin' or something similar without prompt nor any desire on their part to bum anything off you is something I have never quite figured out. I kind of like it actually, I figure it is a respect thing of some sort, but it is very much restricted to a certain socio-economic group.

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