Sunday, November 20, 2011

Can I just have a taste?

Seemingly innocuous words, but ones which I dread.  Not that I have a problem with sharing food.  It is the mode of sharing of those who tend to make such requests that I have a problem with.  Rather than carefully removing some food with a clean utensil to their plate, or pouring some of the drink into another vessel, they are almost certainly going to dive into the middle of your dish (to 'get a taste of everything) with their already used saliva-covered (and frequently partially food-covered) fork or spoon, or to drink directly from the straw or cup.

Sometimes they don't even wait for an answer, or for that matter, even ask!  Once a workmate saw my freshly purchased smoothie, said 'I wonder how that tastes', grabbed it and drank from it before I could react.  I had not even had a single sip at the time, but my immediate reaction was 'well, you can have it now'.  I was not at all impressed, as the drink had cost $6, plus a fair walk down the street, which had been quite an effort in 38 degree heat, pregnant and with joint problems which made walking painful.

I am very happy to share, and think that each buying a different dish and then transferring some to each others plate before eating is commenced is a great idea. But, for me, someone partaking directly from my cup or plate renders the drink or food inedible.  I understand that some people have absolutely no problem drinking or eating directly from the same dish as others, but I am not one of those.   I respect their right to share amongst themselves as they see fit, appreciate the generosity of their offers, and do not offer any negative comment on the practice.

Interestingly, though, I have found that those that 'just want a taste' so rarely display the same courtesy.  They will request again - 'come on, just a taste', 'I don't have any bugs, you know'.  Pull faces of disapproval and disappointment.  Comment to others if around 'oh, I'm so easygoing, I have no problems sharing' (although, in my opinion, someone can hardly be considered easygoing if they cannot accept easily a 'no' in response to their request).

Recently I travelled with one of these people for a week. The first day of our trip I spotted a place selling green tea and sweet bean desserts.  This is something that is very difficult to find in Perth, so I was really looking forward to dining there.  I made my selection, and my travel companion (let's call him GG, or Grumpy Guts) made his.  Shortly after the desserts arrived, GG indicated, waving his already used spoon at my dish, that he wished to share.  I told him that I don't like to eat directly from the same dish, and suggested that I use my clean fork to place a portion on his plate.  This would achieve his aim of variety/tasting another dish, so would surely be satisfactory...

Apparently not.  GG sighed heavily and said 'don't worry then'.  A minute later, starting up the topic again, with 'I just don't understand what your problem is'.  My reply that I simply don't like to do this, consider it a little gross to mix my food with another's saliva, was just not adequate.  Clearly I had a big problem, I should learn to share, and he was suffering greatly from my views.  I gave in and let him eat from my dish. He ate happily, and the fact that I was no longer enjoying eating apparently did not diminish GG's enjoyment one little bit.  He did note that I left a lot of my (very small, about 1/4 the size of his) dessert, as I avoided eating any of the food his spoon had made contact with.  My stated aversion, together with the fact that I could not enjoy much of the dish, would surely be enough that in future he would leave my food alone, right?

But no.  Starbucks the next day, food hall noodles, bubble tea, anything I chose, GG wanted a taste of.  Each time he asked, each time I said I would rather not, each time he would sign, pull the face, shake his head and say he just didn't understand, he just wanted to try it. Would provide examples of his own sharing, or potential sharing ('if my mother didn't have a bottle of water but I did and she was thirsty, I would offer her some').  Very clearly affronted by my great selfishness in not wanting to share (and not even not wanting to share! but rather in not wanting to share by his method!)

On the last day of the holiday when confronted by the guilt trip yet again, I asked GG why he kept on asking when he knew that I didnt like to share, and told him that he was ruining the food/drink for me.  He insisted that he just kept on forgetting, but his reaction, his arrogance in thinking that I should be like him in this (any other) respects, the tone when he said each time 'oh, that's right' (not, 'sorry, I forgot' which would've been more appropriate,although of course hardly convincing after so many times), frowned and shook his head indicated otherwise.  That it was a deliberate effort to bring me around, if not to his way of thinking, at least to complying with his wishes.

I really am not sure what the problem is.  We all have different ideas, preferences, aversions, and the important thing is that we respect those of others, surely.  And I do believe that I have the right to decide what to do with my food/possessions/time, at least to a greater extent than a friend does. Or am I just an unreasonable, saliva-phobic fussy destroyer of fun?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Things I loooove about the US

In the past I have enjoyed making fun of Americans (since we are their lapdog, and bitter about all they have that we don't, it is necessary - plus of course some of my closest friends are American, and mocking is the Australian way of showing friendship)...but now that I have enjoyed my first Florida-free (and therefore, best) US trip, I thought it timely to write about some of the (many) things I loved about the US.  Plus, I can write it as a list and be lazy, which totally suits me :D

1)  Reese's Peanut Butter cups - they are sensational.  The large, the mini, the milk chocolate, the white chocolate, I love them all.  And consumed an obscene amount when in the US.  Now seriously thinking about ordering some from ebay for an obscene amount (I do hear there is a place about 45 minutes' drive away where they sell a pack of 2 for $3.50, but now that I am all converted to American (ie both wanting lots of food and used to cheap prices) that just won't do. And no, the photo is not of the Peanut Butter Cups, but of a breakfast I had at Kramerbooks in Dupont Circle.

2)  Tide laundry powder - ok, I didn't get to actually use it this time.  But did enjoy the delightful Tide scent in the supermarket and on random people.  Next time I am definitely bringing a few packs back.  Nicest smelling laundry product ever.  Plus brings me happy memories of opening ebay parcels (I used to buy a lot of 'lots' of kids' clothes from ebay...which brings me to the next....)

3)  The clothes - cheaper, better quality, much more interesting styles, and lots that matches (especially from The Children's Place - being a bit OCD about matching, the ability to purchase totally coodinated ensembles right down to the hat or stockings is a  very good thing).

4)  The scenery - sooo pretty - I loved the types of trees, the greenery, the water (whether natural or manmade, all pretty).  The trees were just starting to change colour when I was there, which made it even better.  Even the crops were more interesting and beautiful than our standard of wheat and lupins.

5)  Drive through stuff - not just McDonalds etc, but they have drive through pharmacies and even banks (which of course I made my friend drive through and use so I could take photos :D).  In one town there was even a drive through subway (which apparently is not a usual thing, but still, there was one). 

6)  Ease of buying alcohol - at least in Virginia.  You could buy it from the supermarket.  From the 7-11.  Even from the pharmacy.  So, alcohol is available 24-7.  Living in a place where it can only be purchased in bottles from liquor stores, which close by about 10, and by 8 on Sundays, I found this amazing (and wonderful :D)

7)  Bagels and cream cheese.  We just don't have proper bagels readily available here.  We have bread shaped to look like bagels, and of course in 'white' only.  I had never really been a fan for this reason,  but once I discovered the delights offered by the Ashburn Bagel shop, I was totally hooked.  Huge variety of bagels, and even of cream cheese.  I took photos, of course.

8)  The houses.  Ok, I am not keen on the flimsy construction which means that you can hear what your next door neighbour is watching on TV.  But the style is so pretty in the region I visited, whether 'townhomes' or um 'normal' homes.   And of course, basements are super cool.  I loved going down to the basement to 'do laundry' like an American.  And that there are three levels in a lot of houses.  The windows.  The decks.  Very exciting.

9)  The people.  Now, of course, please keep in mind that I was only in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and DC for any amount of time.  And of course that I did encounter some from other places (and ok, even from other parts of Pennsylvania) who were loud, demanding and abrasive (amusingly enough, most often about making sure there was enough meat and fat (ie half and half vs 'normal' 2% milk) in their food).  But in general the people I encountered were friendly (to a cute degree) and really quite adorable.

10)  Halloween.  Ok, it was not yet Halloween when I was there (obviously).  But, decorations were already up in many places, and of course there was so much at the shops. A lot of which I bought (Halloween pencils, cards, treat buckets and bags, window clings, stickers etc)...and a lot of which I really want (candy bowl with animated hand - super cool!, animated lifesize witch - a must have!).  Plus, pumpkin patches where you can choose your own!  I am definitely planning to be in the US for Halloween (with kids) one year.  Have promised them even!

11)  CVS.  A place I never got sick of (and not just because I spent much of my holiday sick from American food/coffee and needing to buy products to make me feel better - I am not used to such rich food, but found it so exciting that I consumed it anyway).  They have sooo much there - from 'candy' to Halloween products and organising products and ziplock bags of perfect airline size and all the usual pharmacy goodies but in a dizzying and delightful variety, and at half the price or less of the same products in Australia...and of course the alcohol. Plus they gave out coupons!

12)  Chipotle.  Fabulous Mexican food, that actually seemed healthy.  In huge size servings.  And best guacamole ever!

13)  DC.  The museums.  The monuments.  The beautiful buildings.  The greenery.  The peace to be found so easily even within the city.  Dupont Circle and the embassies, bookstores, and overall charm.  The Circulator.  Union Station.  The Metro.  I have no idea how I managed to not like the city last time I visited (ok, maybe it was because of the area I stayed in), but I just loved it this time.  Plus, you can buy space icecream and space pens that write underwater there - supercool!

14)  Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestowne.  Ok, I must admit...this is not something I was particularly looking forward to on my trip, and although my friend assured me it was great and that I would enjoy it, I was secretly a little skeptical and expecting something a little tacky theme park-ish.  But loved it - both are beautiful places to be (and Jamestowne was so quiet and peaceful as well), the costumed historian telling us about Jamestowne's history was both amazingly entertaining and informative as was the lady leading us through the Governor's Palace, there was such a variety of experiences at Williamsburg, and well, again, they are just such beautiful places.

15)  Ashburn.  All the buildings are pretty.  It is green.  There are lakes.  From my friend's house it is possible to walk to school without even crossing the road.  There is a trail that goes all the way into Washington, and even has rest stops.  The shopping centres are nicely set out, with ample parking.  Plus of course, they have the all important CVS, target and Ashburn Bagels.

16) Dulles Airport.  Nicely set out, and even the carparks seemed to lack the usual airport chaos.  The trains were supercool.  The airport was clean, and with decent and reasonably priced food options.  And the luggage even came out onto the conveyor in a cute way.

17)  The schoolbuses.  Sooo cute.  I love the colour, I love the shape, they are just delightful.  And most definitely photoworthy.  Plus, of course, like everything else in American, because we grow up watching American shows with American stuff, they seem famous and exciting. 

18)  Squirrels.  They are cute and adorable.  The look cute, they move cutely.  They make practically every green place you come across even more delightful.  They are totally photoworthy and videoworthy (although it seems that taking photos of them is also an excellent way to meet the locals as many of them seem to find it both hilarious and a clear indication that 'you are not from here, are you'...)

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

You don't know me

Most of you who are reading this don't know me at all in real life.  Some of you who are my facebook friends have seen photos of me, my children, my holidays and so have a feeling that you know me somewhat.  But, there is so much about me that is not really known...is only 'known' based on what I say.  I say I am single - but how do you know?  Have you seen this acknowledged by people that you know for sure know me well, live in my city, know my family?  I say I am an accountant?  But how do you know?  From photos that I have posted of my office?  That does not say that I am an accountant...it just says that I work in an office.  Or perhaps just that I visit an office sometimes.

The fact is, people just don't know who they are dealing with online.  We can chat, we can talk on the phone.  Even meet.  But, unless we know someone in their 'regular' life, we can be sure of nothing.  I know this for a fact.  I have seen people with apparently full profiles, including photos of their house inside and out (large, three story with extensive grounds), of dogs, of the orchard they owned, with a job as an investment banker, and with extensive travel behind them.  Now, I have a very good memory.  And, perhaps due to my profession, am very awake to inconsistencies.  I saw a few, I probed.  Turns out none of this was true - the guy in question had not travelled as he said...did not live in the 3 story house but rather in a 1BK...and worked in a caryard.  None of these bad points in themselves...but they became so due to his deception.  And they impacted very negatively on some others.  One girl, that went from the US to India to meet him, but was shocked to find the truth that emerged under her Uncle's questioning.  Another,that had met him when visiting family from Canada, not only believed that she would be marrying him, but sent money to his 'sister' to buy him a gift after his terrible motorcycle accident (all lies, the email account of the sister was actually another identity of his).  So, it shows just how far and for how long people can be deceived.

I am not saying that I am not who I say I am.  But, I am asking you to consider just how much you know me. Photos of children and of me or, perhaps, of an unsuspecting friend or stranger, can easily be obtained from Picasa, flickr, photobucket or the huge number of websites that provide stock images.  A character can be feigned.  I tell people that I travel, that I work hard.  Perhaps I am on welfare and actually bitterly jealous of those who do.  Perhaps I see some of you as more fortunate...and want your money.  Perhaps I see some of you as 'hot' and want your body.  Or maybe I am just looking for acceptance and respect that I could never find in my real persona.  But, you just don't know.

Maybe now you will start checking me out.  On different websites.  By google search.  Searching by username, searching by email if you know it.  Checking the posts on my blog to see if there appears to be any comments by people who know me 'in real life'.  Checking my facebook to see if there are neighbours, friends from school, family.  That it is not just a list of people I found through groups or friend suggestions, or other connections.  Whether people on my friends list are tagged in my photos.  Do it.  Please.  Do it before trusting me with your facebook friendship beyond limited.  Do it especially if you plan to meet me.

I am not saying people on the net are generally bad.  I am just saying, please be careful.

The trigger for this - I see this guy back on facebook...he has an open profile.  Once more, he is adding NRI girls from North America.  I can't warn them.  But I can warn you.  All is not necessarily as it seems.