Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Borrowed Culture

I was at my friend's baby's birthday. Those bastions of parenthood where nobody is having a riotously good time but most everyone is having a pleasant time and small talk is kept to the same subjects and nobody imbibes too much alcohol. Good times for parents comes down to how much you can proffer your child to someone else and perhaps relax your brain muscles and worrying bones for a little while. The plus side is that the blissfully unaware toddler/baby neophytes think that chasing after alarmingly fast and danger-oblivious children is fantastic fun, at least for the 1-2 hours they do it, so it's really a win-win.

Anyhow, my friend had some memorabilia from the company they work for, from when they had business in India. Let's call it MegaCorp. So MegaCorp has an India branch, and they use a tiny cricket bat to symbolize this. That is, cricket = India. Which got me thinking to how so many cultures take various things from other cultures, and over time, decide that this borrowed thing is really The One Thing Of Which We Are All Very Proud Of And Certainly Not From Another Country. Like, say, England and tea, or curry. India and pretty much anything from England. Philippines and corned beef and spam (yes, nice choices there). Finland and tango (another head scratcher). Japanese and baseball. Swedes and hockey. French and jazz. Russia and ballet.

It's a weird amalgam where fierce national loyalty adheres to something completely foreign. Maybe it's a testament to how meaningless nationalism is, or what a strange illusion it all can be. I remember a discussion with a coworker and talking about curry, they quite strongly identified with it, him being English and all, this made less than no sense. But I suppose there is little sense in fierce loyalties. Doubly so if they are mixed with nationalism.

But I repeat myself.

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