Stranger in a Strange Land

One of the oddest things I encounter on a daily basis here (well apart from the heat, insects and bizarre flora) is a lack of shared cultural references.

Being more than a bit of a nerd I obviously wouldn’t ever expect everyone I interact with to get all geek-culture references.

These range from the cultish “smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast” to more culturally general “42” or even “The engines cannae take it captain”.

Here however lack of shared references extend well beyond the nerdy.

“That hat is cool, it looks like something out of Indiana Jones”
“Who?”

(On seeing a particularly wheel-squealing cornering by a truck) “Who does he think he is, James Bond?”
“Who?”

(On dealing with a particularly difficult person) “We’ll need a pair of pliers and a blow-torch”
“What, what, WHAT??”

Perhaps even stranger for me though is the deep knowledge of English football that just about everyone here seems to have (far more knowledge and, let’s be honest, interest than me e.g. some).

As a result people will often ask me where I’m from and when I reply “England” or “UK” am regaled with a long list of English football teams and players most of whom I have only vaguely heard of.

“James Bond? Never heard of him. Gareth Southgate or Gazza on the other hand…”

Music tastes also take a bit of getting used to. This is not just the Otjiherero rap music that blares from every Shebeen and stereo endlessly but the taste in Western music.

Sometimes I get asked what music I like but they have never heard of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, the Scissor Sisters or anything very recent. Asking the question back (in a western sense) usually elicits answers like “Michael Bolton” (??!?!?) or “Michael Jackson” (they don’t seem to have heard the news here… I’m just waiting for a fan of a certain glam rock star to show up).

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