Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

Old Friend

September 7th, 2009 · No Comments

So I’m a bit behind in the posts, and I actually have things I’m supposed to write about rather than just blab on about feet or other nonsense. Qualls wanted us to look at immigrant communities. By wondrous fate, Audrey and I came across a Jewish festival in Regent’s Park. The festival was called Klezmer in the Park, a Jewish music festival. The MC was fantastic and quite hilarious; he even sang a Yiddish rendition of  of New York, New York. He brought up an interesting point though: what would an English rendition sound like? With my humble German abilities, I was able to ascertain that he was not speaking in a direct translation, and I wonder how a song(in general) gets changed, either culturally or linguistically, when it comes to a different country. This seems to apply even more prevalent for a song like New York, New York, which is so heavily tied into the culture of a city and its lexical nuances. Back to immigrant communities. It was quite a sight to see, truly. Jews and non-Jews; British and non-British; all dancing and laughing together in Regent’s Park. Such a feet would not have been possible or even dreamable only a short time ago. And yet there it was, in all of its schmutzing glory. What I did find interesting though, was half way through the concert, the MC calls all the male bachelors too silly to avoid his gaze up on stage. While up there, they were bombarded with what I can only imagine were questions a Jewish mother would ask (I have no such mother, so I’m not really sure). What was sad was that no one liked the Jewish men, rather preferring a gardening British non-Jew (evidently Jewish men don’t do well with their hands, I’ll have to ask Barron).  But I think this brings up an interesting idea, and one we have touched on before: how do you maintain your cultural identity while continuing to integrate (thus attaining privileges like a festival in the park). How do you maintain a culture that is based around the maternal family line if people are marrying non-Jewish women? While the festival did not speak for the entire British-Jewish community, I would like to believe that it had some microcosmic properties. Next Audrey and I went to Queen Mary’s Garden; it was quite lovely, beautiful flower patches with little roads cutting into the wooded areas, very nice for intellectual conversations and peaceful walks of contemplation, recommended to all.

Now onto what I wanted to talk about: tourists. Bloody tourists. So buddies of mine arrived here a week or so ago, and it’s really startling how loud and boisterous they are. But in saying this, I have to laugh because I cannot be so bold as to say I have transcended the lines of tourist and Londoner–that would be absurd. How snobby does that sound? Quite. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m going native, but I think I’ve definitely fallen into a slot of participant observation.  But I mean, this is the dream. If I could do ethnographic work for the rest of my life, earning enough to eat and not get trench foot, I would die a happy man. Saddly I realize that isn’t the case, and I’ll just end up behind some desk. So I’ve got to play dress up for as long as I can before the bell tolls, hopefully not making too much of a fool of myself in the process.  Keep calm, carry on.

Anyway, cheers

Tags: Andrew R