Friday, April 11, 2008

A Blogger Goes To Wales

My good friend Dom is going to Wales for a few weeks and has promised to write a blog there for all the rest of us.

This is his blog: Wales and Means.

This is my advice to him on blog-writing:

Dear Blogging Brother:

Here are my personal rules for blogging in and about a foreign country:

1. What do I miss? (In Germany: Reese's Peanut Butter cups. Good Mexican food. Movies in English. A sense of humor. People saying hello to you on the street. Li Hing Mui.)

2. What do these people do that I see seldom at home? (In Germany: They're always shaking each other's hands. They're always complaining. They even compete with each other to complain. They are always wrapped up in discussion. They treat politics like a hobby.)

3. What do these people think about, talk about and react to my people? (In Germany: Germans look at America like a lunatic asylum and area always finding ways to confirm their clichés.)

4. What did I expect and how are things different?

5. How do I feel? Happy? Sad? Lonely? Free? Threatened? (In Istanbul I was overcome by a feeling of lawlessness and chaos that I had never felt before – it felt as though I could do anything – get into a fight with some guy on the street and not get into trouble. I found it easy to argue with taxi drivers and flirt with women. I felt that way a little bit when I first came to Berlin from Munich, too. I felt free and welcome. On the other hand, when I came to Berlin I also felt much more threatened in the subway – it was darker and less predictable than in Munich, and the people were more diversified and that is threatening at first, too.) The education of the soul is one of the greatest subjects of writing.

6. Photograph everything. Throw away all photos that look like they could be from a tourist brochure and post the others.

7. Whatever you see, ask yourself if there is something different or strange about it – any little thing that might not even appear strange at first.

8. Go places you don’t usually go, see things you don’t usually see, talk to people in bars.

9. Find a bar that stays open late and fills up (on the weekends at least) with lots of young, single men and women, with a good mix, especially with students, but not too cool, and hang out in it 3 nights a week until closing time until you start meeting people there – even if you are alone all the time and embarrassed of being alone and you have to fight with yourself not to go home and do something more interesting like surf the Internet. In Berlin it took me half a year of this – or was it more? – before I got up the guts to talk to people and people talked to me. (You don’t have so much time, but still…) Smartest thing I ever did.

10. If you post two stories one after the other about your domestic or work situation or if you don't post anything for five days, force yourself to go out and do something unusual the very next day.