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Monday, 8 October 2007

Going Dutch in Beijing homepage

Buy from Amazon.co.ukWelcome to the Going Dutch website. The book is published by Profile and should now be in all good bookshops as well, of course, as being available from Amazon ...

When researching the book, I added to my own experience of travelling on six continents by talking to other travellers, as well as those who grew up or have worked in the different places I've written about around the world. I also scoured the internet and asked endless questions in intercultural and other chatrooms. Hopefully my advice is all spot on and bang up to date, but the world is a huge and ever-changing place, so feel free to let me know that actually in that in Japan they no longer mind if you blow your nose into a handkerchief (p.111); in Argentina the piropo is now regarded as deeply sexist and offensive (p. 27); or in Vietnam they no longer drink coffee that has been brewed from beans vomited by weasels (p. 96).

And do feel free to share any stories of your own of that moment when you realise you've just put your culturally insensitive foot in it big time ...

Even the most powerful world leaders have to observe the local etiquette...


Dominique said...

Looking forward to reading the book. It sounds delightful ;-)

J. Ramalho said...

I’m Portuguese, lived in Brazil for 11 years, now living in Spain, married a “galego”, working for a French multinational which official language is English!
I’m a kikokushilo in all senses!!!
I loved the book. But I would like to add some notes:
- Professional Titles (pg 40 Spanish version): in Spain you should use it regarding someone either more important or older then you. Normally these person will tell you when start with the “tuteo” . In Portugal people will expect always the professional title and don’t expect to stop it when in professional environment! But in Brazil is like in Spain!
- Confusion between the two sides of the ocean (pg 54): The Portuguese language have also some tricky words! I believe worst then in English. Careful if you know Portuguese of one side and will speak on the other side! There are a lot of works which are exactly the same but have different meanings!!!
- The clothes you ware (pg 58): If you are a man, ware tie if you want French professionals take you seriously! Otherwise, you might be a excellent engineer, but they will take you as just a simple technician!
- Take your shoes off (pg 60): You should also leave your shoes in the hall entrance, when you are coming in a Swedish home.
- From seven to four (pg 132): You have a mistake here!
In Portugal, normally we don’t do “siesta”! Don’t expect that! It is typical Spanish, much more at South then North of Spain. Portuguese children and old people might do it. And, perhaps, in Alentejo (South of Portugal): in Summer you might get 45ÂșC from 12:00 to 14:00 in that region.
Portuguese time working period is: from 8:00 – 9:00 to 12:30 – 13:30 and from 13:30 – 14:30 to 17:00 – 18:00. One hour for lunch, and if you have more responsibility you might take 30 minutes to one hour plus, but it is a special treatment!


N.F. Parker said...

As an Englishman who has spent twenty years in the Middle East, mainly as a royal adviser in Arabia, I noticed the following, relatively minor errors in your otherwise highly informative and entertaining book:

On page 33 you assert that “bin” literally means from. It actually means son (of). The Arabic for “from” is min.

On page 43 it is stated, “dirty jokes are a total no-no”. In fact, most Arabs, particularly Saudis and especially Hejazis love sexual humour and are very fond of double meanings.

On page 80 one is advised to top up his neighbour’s cup with coffee or tea. This should never be done. A cup should be filled only when empty and then only by a servant (often a young family member) of the host or by the host himself.

On page 122 the formula for converting Gregorian to Hejri years merely by subtracting 622 from the former fails to take account of the fact that the latter year is eleven days shorter. 2008 was in fact 1429 H (not 1386 as stated).

On page 134 it says that dogs are the fifth fasiq (animals permitted to be killed in sanctified places). Only mad dogs can legally be killed.

On page 144 the first daily prayer time is said to be “on waking”. In fact, it is between dawn and sunrise. Most of us then go back to bed for a couple of hours.
On page 191 reference is made to the Saudi bride and groom jointly cutting a cake in the presence of guests. This could never happen because there are strictly segregated receptions for men and women.

On page 207 the washing of an Islamic corpse is termed “wudzu”. Wudhu is actually the ritual washing before prayer but the confusion might stem from the fact that, when washing a corpse, those parts subject to wudhu in life are washed first.

On page 227 you advise that it is bad manners to eat, drink or smoke in public during Ramadhan in Muslim countries. This is true but dangerously understated because in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia one can be imprisoned and deported for doing so.

On page 228 the compulsory minor zakah at the end of Ramadhan is termed zakatul. It should be zakat ul-fitr.

On page 231 Eid al-Adha is stated to last for three days. Whilst this is common practice, it is technically only one day.

I know that some of these points may seem pedantic, but I am merely exploiting the book’s invitation to submit corrections.

tamar said...

Dear Mark,
I just picked up your book Going Dutch in Beijing from the library. I admire that you've taken the time to put together this book, but I'm an Orthodox Jew and I can tell you that some of your information is wrong. For instance, you talk about the fact that Orthodox Jews will not shake hands with the opposite sex. That is correct, but the reasons you've listed for this are incorrect. Men and women are not allowed to touch a person of the opposite sex if they are not a close family member. It has nothing to do with niddah (which is only applicable between a man and his wife) or the state of being married (unmarried women are still forbidden to touch unrelated men and vice versa). Checking to see if a woman's head is covered is not even a particularly good way to deduce if a woman is married as many women wear wigs that look quite real, and the average non Jew will not be able to tell that they're wearing fake hair. If you'd like an in depth explanation as to this issue (known as shomer negiah) behind this, go to askmoses.com and chat with a rabbi, or even read the wikipedia entry. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shomer_negiah. Also, in your holy days section, you list English dates for Jewish holidays. As the Jewish calendar is a lunar one, it never quite coincides with the solar English calendar, and the dates you've listed are inaccurate, as the holidays fall on a different day each year. It would be more accurate to say that the holiday falls approximately around this date every year. Another minor mistake is when you describe kosher food and advise readers not to ask for butter or milk with meat meals. Yes, you cannot have butter or milk, but in Orthodox homes usually they have soy milk, artificial creamer and margarine as substitutes. Asking for butter or milk generally will not go down as an insult or huge faux pas as the family will merely substitute a pareve form of the requested item. If there is ever another edition of your book, you might want to consider correcting this.

Krzysztof said...

At the beginning of your book "Going Dutch in Beijing" in chapter "transcription" you wrote about toasts in Poland. Polish do not say "Na zdorowie" but "Na zdrowie".

Kaizerzydeco said...

RE: Wearing shoes in the house.

I just finished reading "Going Dutch in Beijing" and would like to tell you I really enjoyed it. One thing you could add in any future additions, if nobody's already mentioned it, is that in Canada, it is generally considered rude for visitors to wear their street shoes in a private home. This is quite often a contentious issue when Canadians and Americans (who are accustomed to wearing shoes in their own houses) co-habit. Even house parties are usually shoe-less, with everyone standing round the fridge with their stocking feet damp from the beer that is invariably spilt on the kitchen floor. Anyway, the usual procedure when entering a house inhabited by Canadians (expats too) is to immediately remove one's shoes. If caught in the act by a host who says it's all right to leave shoes on, ignore him and remove them anyway, saying "that's OK, I have them off already." The host will be relieved because he will not have meant it anyway. I occasionally bring slippers with me (handy at parties) but am not sure whether this might be offensive to the host, who might be proud of his clean floors. Thick socks also work if one dislikes, as I do, wearing just stocking feet indoors. Conversely, one might apologise profusely for bringing slippers and profess a dislike of walking in stocking feet, perhaps blaming one's upbringing. I personally wouldn't mind if a guest brought slippers.
Two other things: at Canadian weddings the best man also gives a speech designed to embarrass the groom, and we also hate queue-jumpers, whether for a bus or for medical care.