23 responses

  1. Linda
    November 30, 2012

    I admire your tact and diplomacy. Short-term I can be polite and respectful with these issues, but once I get to know someone better, especially if I respect their intelligence I find it a lot harder!

    If I’m not mistaken in Rita Goldman Gelman’s book “Female Nomad” she talks about having to restrain herself somewhere in Central America, when picnicking with a local family, they chuck their paper and foil food wrappings onto the ground. She muses that it would be culturally inappropriate to remonstrate with them, yet knows that this country has to learn to take better care of its environment.

    Knowing where to draw the line is awfully hard. Well done!
    Linda recently posted..PJs Covent Garden: Dining as it Used to Be.My Profile

    • Talon
      November 30, 2012

      Thanks, Linda. It was quite difficult to keep my mouth shut for much of our discussion, but then I did find his feeling about how their practices respect women to be fascinating. So interesting to be exposed to someone else’s vision.

  2. Adam
    November 30, 2012

    Really enjoyed this post. I think it’s great to talk to people and I admire your ability to talk about potentially controversial subjects! This is one of the best parts about discovering new cultures—it really does open your mind.

    Also…that last photo. WOW!
    Adam recently posted..Eating (and drinking) my way through ColumbusMy Profile

    • Talon
      November 30, 2012

      It is one of the things I love about new cultures for sure.

      I was so tempted to make that photo the main image. LOL Originally, I was going to post a photo of a sculpture, but I just couldn’t resist using this one instead. :)

  3. Wandering Educators
    December 1, 2012

    i keep pondering your words, for they are powerful – as is your listening, questioning, and thoughtfulness. bravo, talon, for braving this discussion, and being open minded in presenting it. it IS hard, when we’re forced to confront issues that are so very different from our own. i’ve been there, in japan – it’s really hard to keep our mouths shut, and truly be ethnorelative.
    Wandering Educators recently posted..Passports with Purpose 2012: Building Wells in HaitiMy Profile

    • Talon
      December 1, 2012

      Yes indeed! Some things are easier than others, too.

  4. Mary
    December 1, 2012

    Great post Talon. I agree that at times it is very hard to keep an open mind on these type sof things that we consider well a given! I admire your ability to grit your teeth and listen but even more then that let it soak in and challenge your way of thinking…that is travels true gift!
    Mary recently posted..Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown?My Profile

    • Talon
      December 1, 2012

      It definitely is!

  5. Jaime
    December 1, 2012

    Wow very good post… you voiced so many thoughts I always wonder, but after spending more time in a Muslim country you really learn more about why they do the things they do. I’ve always wanted to ask women ““How do you stand it?”” as well, but like you mentioned it’s optional in many muslim countries. Of course most people in the west, don’t understand that part of it. Everything you have voiced I’ve honestly thought about while living in Cairo. We all know these aren’t small issues… they are huge issues, but for them it works, they understand it. I don’t know if I am making sense at all because it’s not easy to explain. We just have to be open to new cultures… let our cultures clash & embrace it instead of fear it. When more people embrace each other the more the world can move forward as one. For now the media does a great job at dividing us… (even within one country) and keeping us from moving forward.

    P.S. the last photo… yum!
    Jaime recently posted..The delicious Steamboat experience in the Cameron Highlands.My Profile

    • Talon
      December 1, 2012

      Yes indeed. I found it interesting, and a relief, that he was against how women are treated in some other Muslim countries as well. It is such a unique situation to be able to be on other side of things and have a window opened into another world really.

      And serious yum!

  6. Gray
    December 1, 2012

    Terrific post. I think I would have had great trouble being as restrained as you were in these conversations, but I think you handled them brilliantly….and were rewarded with some great insights into how people in other cultures think. Certainly, it’s hard to argue with the Moroccan man who expressed disgust as how women’s bodies are used to sell things in Western culture.

  7. Talon
    December 1, 2012

    Definitely rewarded. You are so right. And, yes, VERY difficult to argue with that one.

  8. Andrea
    December 1, 2012

    Bravo for a beautifully considered piece. It is refreshing to read someone who can share their thoughts on cultural differences without sounding judgmental.

    As a Western woman who has been living in Saudi Arabia for the past few months, I would like to add that I have found a surprising level of freedom in many of the things that I thought I would feel were restrictive.

    I love my abaya (the black tent-like over cloak) that I am required to wear. Not having to worry about what to wear when I leave the house is fantastic. Gone are the days of feeling fashion pressure and no-more ‘does my butt look big’ in this dilemmas.

    I’ve learnt to take a step back when I am with my husband as it is more appropriate that he speak with the men. At first I found it hard to bite my tongue – I’ve always been the organizer, the dealer of foreign arrangements, the one with the strongest opinion and therefore the most to say. But now, much to my surprise, I find that it’s quite pleasant to have someone else deal with the daily life stuff.

    Of course I realize that as a western woman I have the best of both worlds here, as I am treated with the respect and consideration that men are required to show towards women but many of my behaviors are overlooked because I am Western.

    Looking forward to more of your Moroccan observations.

    And to Tigger’s blog posts!

    • Talon
      December 1, 2012

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your unique perspective!

  9. Micki
    December 4, 2012

    I really loved this article. We talk a lot about how travel changes us and our view on life, but I love how you dealt so honestly with how hard it can be to be non-judgmental and consider both sides.
    Micki recently posted..Need a Little Inspiration? 10 Great Travel Reads We LoveMy Profile

    • Talon
      December 4, 2012

      Thank you! It was quite an interesting experience for sure.

  10. Melanie
    December 5, 2012

    Bloody brilliant-I admire you, I’m trying to learn to bite my tongue more often, it is soooo necessary when travelling!

    • Talon
      December 5, 2012

      Sometimes more than others for sure. LOL Thanks!

  11. D.J. – The World of Deej
    December 8, 2012

    Awesome post…I recently wrote about a similar experience of biting my tongue when I was in China and our private guide took us to Tiananmen Square. It was tough not to ask the hard questions about what he felt, etc. but in the end I was glad I didn’t. It is definitely odd though to hear the woman’s perspective on respect…not what I’d have imagined..
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..Souvenirs From Wine Country – How To Bring Home The Good StuffMy Profile

    • Talon
      December 8, 2012

      Thanks! When we were in Cuba, I had a lot of people want to start conversations with me, and I so badly wanted to “go there” with them, but there was no way I could risk it. Tiananmen Square . . . wow, that had to be a major temptation to chat with him!

  12. Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush?
    October 2, 2014

    (We) Americans often feel like the American way is the best and only way. It’s amazing what one can learn when one listens before speaking, without sliding into the cesspit of relativism. Good stuff, Talon.
    Peter Korchnak @ Where Is Your Toothbrush? recently posted..Things I learned from one year of travelingMy Profile

    • Talon Windwalker
      October 2, 2014

      So very true. When we leave ourselves open to new ideas, we can be surprised at what we find.

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