Posts Tagged ‘Lonely Planet’

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Just a little one about the kissing

March 27, 2008

Photo by: B Tal

Being a Dane use to firm handshaking and slightly loose hugs (only with your good friends), it was kind of a surprise for my cheeks coming over here and being spoiled with all those kisses. Not a bad surprise. I know it is obvious when you are in Quebec, a French province you will be greeted the French way. My cheeks and I just came a little unprepared. And most of the kisses came mostly from other exchange students…

In Lonely Planet – Montreal it says this about cheek kissing:
“As in France, it’s customary among French Quebecers who know each other to exchange bises (kisses) as a greeting (men do this occasionally, too) While two to three kisses on each cheek are typical in France, the usual ritual in Quebec is one glancing peck on each cheek. Any more will get you weird looks.” (Page 29)

As an exchange student I find it interesting how all the exchange students has picked up on this cheek kissing; even if they are not from a country where this is the normal way of greeting.

It is not that I don’t like it, as I have said before “when in Montreal do as the Montrealers”, but it makes me wonder, if “real” Montrealers look at us, the international students, kissing like crazy on each other’s cheeks with the weird look that Lonely Planet is talking about.

I guess I’m just not sure how big the cheek kissing really is in this city. Is it really something everybody does? Or is it just the wannabe Montrealers?

I would love to get some comments on this from some cheek kissing or non-cheek kissing Montrealers!

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Is it a ”don’t” to talk about Quebec separatism with a minus 40?

March 4, 2008

“Don’t address the topic of Quebec separatism with anyone under 40 the first time you meet them – unless you want to be seen as hopelessly square. Whether you’re speaking to a separatist or a federalist, the subject these days is deemed tired to the extreme and an unforgivable bore on social occasions.” (Page 29, Lonely Planet – Montreal & Quebec City).

This was one of the first things I read about Quebec separatism, and I must say that it didn’t encourage me to look deeper into the topic. I find these national issues (can you call it a national issue?) very interesting, and I am one of those persons who grab the chance and ask Montrealers about their view on the separatism the first time I have the chance.

Actually I did. He is a Québécois Québécois, he explained to me. We had a nice talk about it, and I don’t think he found me extremely and unforgivable boring. Writing this blogpost I asked him, what he thought about the Lonely Planet-statement. His answer made me think about how great a power a book as Lonely Planet can have, if you just blindly believe what it says.

He said: “You shouldn’t listen to that weird travel guide if you are a curious person. For me this subject is never boring. I think nationhood is the status that all nation states must achieve, be it in Kosovo, Tibet, Timor Leste or Québec. It is very important to talk about that issue, since it is our future we are talking about. I think anyone who is bored by that debate is obtuse.”

I wondered if this perhaps would be an obvious answer from a Québécois Québécois, so I also asked an Anglophone. She was amazed and surprised when I told her about the words from Lonely Planet. It was interesting to see her reaction; you would imagine that Montrealers themselves could recognize their city in a book about their city.

In her eyes the topic is might said to be boring, but once you ask Montrealers about it they always have something to say. And they will always be ready to have the discussion.

These two persons are of course not representative of the whole population of Montreal. But their views reminded me not to believe everything I read, but when you are new in a city, a travel guide is sometimes your first lifeline to the city. I just find it problematic, because a book like that is affecting the way newcomers behave in this city. And to me it seems like the topic of Quebec separatism is not “extreme and an unforgivable bore” just yet, no matter what I know that I am going to keep on asking questions about the topic.