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How would you define your personal culture? How does it differ from the general culture of your place of residence?
Unsurprising that this question of yours, Habib le toubib, is attracting a lot of attention from migrants and diasporans. And it would: migrants and diasporans have a personal culture that hybridises their upbringing and their environment, so it will be perceptibly different to that of their local mainstream.
It’s a big brushstrokes kind of personal structure difference. Of course there is cultural difference mediated through differences and fluidity in subgroups, particularly in more heterogeneous countries like the US. And I disagree with Peter Flom: culture is mediated through the collective, but it is still realised in the individual’s attitudes and praxis, and individuals can veer off and do strange things.
But there’s nothing that subtle about me.
I wrote a little about my diaspora experience recently at The Decalogue of Nick #1: I’m Greek-Australian by Nick Nicholas on Opɯdʒɯlɯklɑr In Exile. I’ll give some dot points here about how I’m a misfit against majority Australian culture, though I am much more of a misfit against majority Greek culture.
- This may well surprise some of my followers, but I am more uptight than I’d prefer to be about casual sex, particularly as depicted on Australian drama and soaps. I see young nubile things carousing and gallivanting on Winners and Losers or Neighbours or Offspring, and I don’t think, “mmm, young nubile things”, or even “is it ratings season again?” I think “who are these bogan rootrats doing on my telly?”
- In the case of Offspring, it’s “hipster rootrats”. But then, I find it impossible to like anything about the smugfest that is Offspring. Or, as one of the gay guys on Gogglebox sneered, “yet another show about a neurotic chick”. It’s turned into quite the genre here.
- I think there is more meaning to be had in the collective than in the individual, and it pains me that I don’t have a crowd to hang out with any more. That whole notion of the parea, the big freewheeling social group, is much more a Greek thing than “hanging out with your mates”.
- And why yes, parea is the only Catalan loanword in Greek.
- Distaste at pub culture. That’s not quite true, because my happiest nights after I left Melbourne Uni were when I kept in touch with the Melbourne Uni German crowd at a Uni pub. But I would nurse a Kilkenny’s for an hour, or make a point of getting either a cocktail or a Jameson, and nurse that for an hour. Certainly though, extreme discomfort at public drunkenness.
- Mercifully, The One True Meat Is Lamb is a virtue Anglo-Australians and Greek-Australians share. But Meat also means Oregano to me. In fact, we had Xmas Eve leftovers at a colleagues’ this year, and we marvelled at the exotic delights of crackling and cranberry sauce and roast ham. Xmas being a family thing, neither of us had ever really had English Xmas food. (Apart from Xmas cake, which my folks would get as a present from the factory, and bring home bewildered.)
- I find the traditional ideal of how an Australian man should be to be emotionally constipated. I’m not alone in this; that’s a cultural shift well underway.
- But God help me if the evolutionary endpoint is to be Patrick on Offspring. He’s scripted that way because it’s a female fantasy, people! Starring a neurotic chick! Who daydreams because she’s a loser, not because she’s quirky and cool and hip. What a fricking wet rag that guy was.
Yeah, hadeha Neurotic Chick. Just remember, I’m laughing at you not with you.