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  • Writer's pictureKristina Lang

Between two worlds/Između dva svijeta

Updated: Mar 7, 2022

British politeness is an integral part of British culture and is something that Britain is widely known for. This politeness, which is learned from the earliest age, as British children first learn to say "please" and "thank you", is pleasant to everyone and is easy to get used to. The extent of such politeness goes so far that it does not come naturally to foreigners, and we must learn it. This is what I have been learning for twenty years and I still make mistakes.

For example, recently we had an unannounced power cut at work. Instruments in my lab have to be shut down according to a complex procedure and a sudden power cut usually means problems when restarting the instruments. When I sent the notification about it to the whole Department, I didn't start my message with an apology, it just didn't occur to me at all that I would have to apologize for problems that are completely out of my control. Someone had to draw my attention to the fact that it would be nice to start the message with an apology, although of course no one thinks it's my fault that there was a sudden power cut.

After all these years of living in England, I go to Croatia and some details catch me off guard because politeness in Croatia often does not mean the same as it means in Britain. For example, at the counter of British Airways at the Zagreb airport, I get in line for a drop off and the Croatian clerk tells me, in English "You have to wait".

I spontaneously responded in Croatian, "Excuse me?" and she repeated, again in English, "You have to wait". I wanted to correct her, that she should have asked “Could you wait for the moment please?” because that's what an British clerk would say.

However, on the other side, British politeness is also very surface level. People do not like to be open and start conversations with strangers as is common in Croatia which I am still getting used to.

During our stay at the sea in Croatia this summer in Primosten, we wanted to have an Adriatic specialty for dinner, “Octopus under the bell”. One night, we asked in a restaurant where this speciality was best made and were recommended “The best restaurant is ‘Konoba Torkul’”. In Konoba Torkul we discovered that their house specialty is octopus under the baking bell, but it must be booked a day in advance. So my brother and daughter had mixed meat and grilled fish, and I chose grilled squid. While my brother and daughter were very happy with their food, I was disappointed because I only got two large squid that were quite rubbery. When the waiter asked us how we liked the meal, I of course honestly said my squid was not good. Within three minutes, the owner of the restaurant approached us personally to explain to me that these are fresh Adriatic squid, not imported, and that this is the traditional way they are grilled.

"Adriatic or non-Adriatic, I didn't like it," I said. Then, the owner recommended the specialty we had originally come there for, to have the next evening. And indeed we booked it for the second evening where our table was waiting for us, but also the owner of the restaurant who was serving us. When I told him that the octopus was extraordinarily prepared, I added, "I once tried to bake an octopus in the oven, but it released some mucus and was not good at all." Then, he gave me detailed instructions on how to prepare octopus at home: freeze for at least a week before preparation, under no circumstances cook it fresh, and soak in hot water before baking.

At the end of the evening, we were served a drink at the expense of the house, which we kindly refused, as none of us drink alcohol. With all the courtesy in English restaurants, how many people have experienced being served by a restaurant owner, in a full, large restaurant, after complaining that something was not well prepared?

And here is a video that shows how a famous British actor, Patrick Stewart, experienced service in a Zagreb restaurant. It really highlights the cultural difference.




Kristina

Saturday, September 11th, 2021



Između dva svijeta


Britanska uljudnost sastavni je dio britanske kulture i nešto je po čemu je Britanija nadaleko poznata. Ta pristojnost, koja se uči od najranije dobi jer britanska djeca prvo nauče govoriti "molim" i "hvala", ugodna je svima i na nju se lako naviknuti. Opseg takve uljudnosti ide toliko daleko da nama strancima ne dolazi prirodno i to moramo naučiti. Ja to učim već dvadeset godina i još uvijek griješim.

Na primjer, nedavno nam je nenajavljeno nestalo struje na poslu. Instrumenti u mom laboratoriju moraju se zatvoriti prema složenom postupku, a iznenadni prekid napajanja obično znači probleme pri ponovnom pokretanju instrumenata. Kad sam obavijest o tome poslala cijelom Odjelu, svoju poruku nisam započela isprikom, jednostavno mi uopće nije palo na pamet da ću se morati ispričati za probleme koji su potpuno izvan moje kontrole. Netko mi je morao skrenuti pozornost na činjenicu da bi bilo lijepo započeti poruku isprikom, iako naravno nitko ne misli da sam ja kriva što je došlo do iznenadnog nestanka struje.

Nakon svih ovih godina života u Engleskoj odlazim u Hrvatsku i neki detalji me zateknu jer pristojnost u Hrvatskoj često ne znači isto što znači u Britaniji. Na primjer, na šalteru British Airwaysa u zagrebačkoj zračnoj luci stanem u red za predaju kofera i hrvatska službenica mi kaže, na engleskom "Moraš čekati". Ja sam spontano rekla na hrvatskom sam: "Oprostite?" i ona je opet ponovila na engleskom, "Moraš čekati". Poželjela sam je ispraviti, da je trebala pitati "Možete li pričekati trenutak, molim vas?" jer bi tako rekla britanska službenica.

Međutim, s druge strane, britanska uljudnost također je vrlo površna. Ljudi ne vole biti otvoreni i započeti razgovore s strancima kao što je to uobičajeno u Hrvatskoj na što se još uvijek navikavam.

Tijekom našeg boravka na moru u Hrvatskoj ovog ljeta u Primoštenu htjeli smo za večeru imati jadranski specijalitet, “Hobotnicu ispod peke”. Jedne smo večeri u jednom restoranu pitali gdje je ovaj specijalitet najbolje napravljen i preporučili su nam “Najbolji restoran je‘ Konoba Torkul ’”. U Konobi Torkul otkrili smo da je njihov kućni specijalitet upravo hobotnica ispod peke, ali je potrebno rezervirati dan unaprijed. Tako su moj brat i kći to večer imali miješano meso i ribu na žaru, a ja sam odabrala lignje na žaru. Dok su moj brat i kći bili jako zadovoljni hranom, ja sam bila razočarana jer sam dobila samo dvije velike lignje koje su bile prilično žilave. Kad nas je konobar pitao kako nam se svidio obrok, naravno da sam iskreno rekla da moje lignje nisu bile dobre. U roku od tri minute, vlasnik restorana osobno nam se obratio kako bi mi objasnio da su to svježe jadranske lignje, a ne neke uvozne, I da upravo takove trebaju biti lignje na žaru.

"Jadranske ili nejadranske, nije mi se svidjelo", rekla sam. Zatim je vlasnik preporučio specijalitet po koji smo tamo prvobitno došli, hobotnicu ispod peke. I doista smo hobotnicu rezervirali za drugu večer gdje nas je čekao naš stol, ali i vlasnik restorana koji nas je posluživao. Kad sam mu rekla da je hobotnica izvanredno pripremljena, dodala sam: "Jednom sam pokušala ispeći hobotnicu u pećnici, ali je puštala neku sluz i uopće nije bila dobra." Zatim mi je dao detaljne upute o tome kako pripremiti hobotnicu kod kuće: zamrznite barem tjedan dana prije pripreme, ni pod kojim uvjetima ne kuhajte je svježu i prije pečenja namočite u vrućoj vodi.

Na kraju večeri posluženo nam je piće o trošku kuće, što smo ljubazno odbili, jer nitko od nas ne pije alkohol. Uz svu ljubaznost u engleskim restoranima, koliko je ljudi doživjelo da ih vlasnik restorana poslužuje u punom, velikom restoranu, nakon što su se žalili da nešto nije dobro pripremljeno?

A evo i videa koji prikazuje kako je poznati britanski glumac, Patrick Stewart, doživio uslugu u jednom zagrebačkom restoranu. To doista ističe kulturološku razliku.




Kristina

Subota, 21. rujna 2021.

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