"When in Rome", and other Cultural Misunderstandings

chrisg46

LE
Book Reviewer
On a recent overseas exercise in Europe, we arrived at the Training Area for the first phase of running arounds in the woods and up hills etc. During the brief orientation of the area, the toilets were pointed out to us and that we wouldnt like them. In the classic continental style, they consisted of a hole in the ground for you to squat over before a powerful blast of water would flush it away. It was a little odd in that there wasnt a door, just a narrow gap to step through. Poor lighting as well so a head torch was recommended.
Oh well, we think, thats what the locals do, so thats what we will do. Over time, nature takes its course and the toilets are well used, and much grumbling is made about the prolonged squatting that is required.... Then one day, one of the local soldiers passes and demands to know why we are shitting in their urinals???

Any other examples of misunderstanding the locals, thinking something weird is one of their customs?
 

oldnotbold

War Hero
Looking the other way round formed a sketch by Gerald Hoffnung many years ago. His misleading advice to foreigners included that it was mandatory to shake hands with everybody in your London tube carriage, that one really should try out the magnificent echo in the British Museum reading room, and that brothels in England all displayed a prominent blue light outside.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
Looking the other way round formed a sketch by Gerald Hoffnung many years ago. His misleading advice to foreigners included that it was mandatory to shake hands with everybody in your London tube carriage, that one really should try out the magnificent echo in the British Museum reading room, and that brothels in England all displayed a prominent blue light outside.
Reminded me of this, in particular the gappe bat (which apparently is a real thing according to other results from my web search). No warranty. I only searched for gappe bat and haven't read it, but it looks like what I read 20 years ago.

 
In many London Underground, and other stations, you will find state-sponsored musicians, to entertain commuters and travellers. They often have a spread of loose change for anybody to take, if you are short of a few bob for the food and drink vending machines.
 

overopensights

ADC
Book Reviewer
As you stroll through the excellent architecture of Arlingtion military cemetery Washington , a lot of the finesse is lost because of large signs that state 'No Gum Chewing'!
 
In Canada if there is an unattended beer on the bar feel free to help yourself, likewise if you are at a house party and you run out of beer you can just take another beer out of the fridge/cooler boxes.
 
In Canada if there is an unattended beer on the bar feel free to help yourself, likewise if you are at a house party and you run out of beer you can just take another beer out of the fridge/cooler boxes.
Try that in the Sarry Heid in Glasgow.
Self inflicted euthanasia via a well aimed glassing of the cartoid artery.
 
Looking the other way round formed a sketch by Gerald Hoffnung many years ago. His misleading advice to foreigners included that it was mandatory to shake hands with everybody in your London tube carriage, that one really should try out the magnificent echo in the British Museum reading room, and that brothels in England all displayed a prominent blue light outside.
Was his hovercraft full of eels by any chance?
 
Try that in the Sarry Heid in Glasgow.
Self inflicted euthanasia via a well aimed glassing of the cartoid artery.
Trying that in Canada could well result in a stern talking to or outright fisticuffs, much more civilised you see ;-)
 
On a recent overseas exercise in Europe, we arrived at the Training Area for the first phase of running arounds in the woods and up hills etc. During the brief orientation of the area, the toilets were pointed out to us and that we wouldnt like them. In the classic continental style, they consisted of a hole in the ground for you to squat over before a powerful blast of water would flush it away. It was a little odd in that there wasnt a door, just a narrow gap to step through. Poor lighting as well so a head torch was recommended.
Oh well, we think, thats what the locals do, so thats what we will do. Over time, nature takes its course and the toilets are well used, and much grumbling is made about the prolonged squatting that is required.... Then one day, one of the local soldiers passes and demands to know why we are shitting in their urinals???

Any other examples of misunderstanding the locals, thinking something weird is one of their customs?
New Year’s Eve 1957/8 and the family was flying to Malta on posting - one of the first to fly instead of troopship.
In those days, a BEA Viscount had to make refuelling stop at Nice (8h total LHR - Luqa).
During the stop, my mother took myself (aged 5) and sister (2) to the Ladies at Nice Airport.
Having done the necessary I commented on the good thinking of the authorities in providing low-slung bogs for little chaps.
Mother rushed me away before anybody overheard.
Well, come on, whoever heard of a 5 year old who knows what a bidet is!
 
When in India do as everyone else does and take a crap in the streets, saves a ton on bog paper too.
 
When in India do as everyone else does and take a crap in the streets, saves a ton on bog paper too.
You can always pretend you're camping I suppose...

The last time I was in Mumbai ages ago, they did have surprisingly decent toilets.
 

Joker62

ADC
Book Reviewer
You can always pretend you're camping I suppose...

The last time I was in Mumbai ages ago, they did have surprisingly decent toilets.
That's because the fuckers use the street.
 
In Mandarin, the traditional polite term for a young woman is xiaojie, literally 'little sister'. On the Mainland, it's become slang for a prostitute and most women would be incredibly offended to be called that.

The hilarity that ensued when I asked a stallholder at a market, "Xiaojie, how much?"
 
A few years ago, on the way to Spain on our motorbikes, my Jock mate decides he needs a dump desperately. So we pull onto one of those parking areas, the French build on their Autoroutes.
Kenny is off his bike and in, in a second.... How ever.... He's back, out virtually straight away.
Now Kenny has never been abroad before, this is his first experience of squatting shit holes.
In a very pained Glaswegian accent.... "I'M NA FUGIN GAIN IN THERE"!!!!!!!
Oh how me and my mate laughed....
 

CatsEyes

War Hero
Waiting for my next aircraft in Singapore, I had a few hours to kill, during which time I needed a dump. Going in to the spotless toilets, I was horrified to see that on opening a cubicle door, it was a hole in the ground type with a hose pipe next to it. Needs must, so having divested myself of various clothing and done the business, I was washing my hands when I saw in the mirror, another cubicle door open behind me, revealing a standard western style throne.
 
Even closer to home phone conversations are a great source of confusion and I can just imagine Jeremy Corbyn calling his old comrade Ken Livingstone to enquire about some inexplicable expenditure:

Corbyn: There’s an entry here listed as miscellaneous. What did you spend the money on?

Livingstone: My newt tanks.

Corbyn: Bloody hell! I don’t care how sodding small they are, if the press finds out you’ve been buying tiny armoured fighting vehicles they’ll have a field day! Besides, where are you going to find people small enough to crew them?
 

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