I love reading blogs from writers who live in different countries and cities. It allows me to be a voyeur into their lives, which are so similar, yet different in subtle and interesting ways. Even the United States is so different from Canada, although we are neighbours. There are huge differences between New York, San Diego, Alabama, the mid-west, and Seattle. I enjoy trying to pick out the subtle cultural/geographical differences.
I love reading "Made in Brazil" because it gives me insight into their sexy, social and machismo culture, that can be dangerous, yet is surprisingly flexible when it comes to sex between men. I love reading "Tokio Bleu," because it shows me contemporary Japanese culture, which tends to be creative, gentle, intelligent and whimsically fashionable. "Is Mise" informs me on the daily life of an Irish man – going to pubs, drinking beer, socializing, joking around and yet being worldly.
Of course I’m generalizing, and steriotypifying to a large degree. But sometimes it’s helpful to do so, to gain some insight. Reading blogs from other countries makes me reflect on my own culture – Vancouver, BC, Canada. I’ll attempt to make some generalizations.
1. Vancouver is fairly multi-cultural. Other than Caucasians, the largest majority of the population are Asians (mostly Chinese, some Japanese), and then Middle Eastern and Indians. Within two blocks of me, there are three Asian restaurants. There are so few black people that when you see one, you’re surprised.
2. My Mexican roommate noticed that everyone reads on the transit here – not just newspapers, but also books.
3. I think it’s simply being a Pacific Coast city…but the main thing I noticed when I moved here is that intensity and anger is not allowed or tolerated here. Unlike Toronto, people go out of their way to appear easy-going, relaxed and non-intense. If you become intense or angry, you’re treated like a freak. Unfortunately the negative side of this is that so many people are passive-aggressive on the West Coast of Canada.
4. While there is some cultural activity in this city, it cannot be compared to Toronto or East Coast cities. After having lived here for a while, I went back to Toronto and was amazed by how so many people engaged me in an intelligent conversation about politics, the world, the arts, religion and society. These topics tend to be too intense for the West Coast.
5. Nearly everyone here is involved in physical activity – working out, hiking, swimming, sailing, skateboarding (one of the top city planners who is openly gay and 50 years old, rides to work on his skateboard everyday), rollerblading, walking, cycling, camping. It’s because nature is so prevalent here. Nature overtakes culture in this city.
6. Even though we have a huge gay population, there’s only a handful of clubs. I believe the majority of gay men (who are 28 plus) don’t ever go to a club. You’ll only meet these guys by becoming a part of their dinner party circle, gym or favourite sport. You’ll see them at large special event parties though, with their shirts off.
7. Vancouver is mostly anti-fashion. You’ll practically never seen a woman with make-up, high heels and wearing a dress. No one wears black, unless you’re an immigrant. Black is too intense.
8. No one smokes in Vancouver. You’re not allowed to, anywhere. If you’re smoking outside a building, you need to be 3 metres away from the door.
9. There is a yoga studio and natural health store every block. Along with Asian restaurants. Sushi is cheap here!
10. Since it rains 6 months of every year in Vancouver, people squint when the sun comes out (unless they’re wearing sunglasses). It really is a shock when the sun comes out and the sky is clear.
I love Vancouver!
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