January 25, 2011

Lisbon. October, 2009

My friend Stephen, an astute social observer and blogger/critic, recently pegged me as “a great internationalist.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but here’s what I’d like it to mean: that I view the world as my home (and everyone else’s, too), that I explore the wonders of various cultures and languages, that I try to broaden my horizons by embracing perspectives different from my own. So there. Along those lines, I think it’s simply respectful to learn a little of the language before visiting another country. How else could I have had the pleasure of chatting with this wonderful woman stringing hot peppers in Lisbon’s Mercado da Ribeira? Or the sweets seller in Istanbul, the train conductor in Madrid, the cheese vendor in Paris? And I love to help foreign visitors feel welcome in my part of the globe, too. As soon as I hear a foreign language or a question asked in beautifully accented English, I’m on it. I’ve met some terrific world neighbors that way, great internationalists all.


  1. What a great way to see the world!

  2. Some scholars have observed that the stringing of hot peppers is often accompanied by a traditional song:

    It's not for the tourists I string, you see
    Nor for the sketches of Erik Satie,
    Or even this marketplace strewn with debris
    Oh martyrs of Guernica, I string for thee!