29 October, 2007

Culture-Crossing Couples

It's a cliché to say that the British and Americans are two peoples divided by a common language but often enough Lisa and feel like the living embodiment of this fact. We both claim to speak English but our cultures are much more different than is generally supposed. While this is most often a source of enrichment and expanded horizons, it can also lead to surprisingly difficult frustrations. For that reason we take special pleasure in the company of other cross-cultural couples, whether Anglo-Chinese, Indo-Norwegian or, as in the case of our dinner guests on Saturday, Italian-Korean.

Our Neapolitan friend, Chiara, introduced us to Clemente from Northen Italy last August but it took to now for us to meet his lovely Korean wife Myung Hee. As this was their first time as our guests we subjected them to our signature appetiser of escargots and the main course was pizza, partly contributed by Clemente. Much of the conversation was taken up with comparing notes on our various experiences in getting hooked up with a partner from another culture and how we manage the tensions that cross-cultural living throws up.

Our menu for the evening was conspicuously missing any contribution from Myung Hee's part of the world, so we quickly agreed that our next get-together should rectify that and focus on Korean cuisine. We hope it won't be very long at all before that comes off. As always the talk ran late into the evening and so it came about that, in the photo (taken right at the end of the evening), Lisa is checking the times of the last bus home with our guests: it had already gone, so a taxi was summoned forthwith!

01 October, 2007

Once More Unto the Breach

Tomorrow is the first day of the Michaelmas Full Term at Cambridge, the start of the new academical year. The nature of my job (IT support to the Faculty of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) differs radically between term-time and vacations and Michaelmas is always the most intense and stressful of the three. I had last week off work to take a deep breath before diving in. For most of that week, Lisa was away in New York City visiting her sister and four young nieces and nephews she hadn't previously met. The photo shown was taken from the Staten Island Ferry looking back at the southern tip of Manhattan.

The house here seems very empty when Lisa's away and I find it hard to motivate myself to do more than the basic minimum. I did, though, manage to complete one project that's been pending for more months than I care to think about and put up a new lighting unit in the kitchen to replace the unflattering single fluorescent strip light with a set of six directional halogen lamps. I must be one of the least "handy" people in the country so this simple-sounding task was a major accomplishment in my book!

Lisa returned to the UK on her birthday but was too tired from travelling to celebrate, so we went out to dinner the following evening. The chosen location was Café Adriatic up on Mill Road, one of our favourite local haunts. It didn't disappoint: a low key atmosphere coupled with uncomplicated but well cooked and beautifully presented food and well-judged service was just what we wanted. A relaxing and satisfying evening that, even topped and tailed with Prosecco and Sambuca, didn't cost an arm and a leg.