Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Customer Service at Jasmine Fusion

We have eaten once before at Jasmine Fusion in Pensacola (9 Mile Road,) and while the food was great, the welcome was haphazard and the restrooms were messy. Our impressions were not that good, but when friends we were going out with suggested eating there, we agreed, as it was close to the theatre we were going to afterwards.

What a difference.

The place looked a lot cleaner, and the welcome was warm. We were seated immediately, in a nice location, and our waitress was superb. Here was the deal-sealer – AdventureMan has a sore throat, and ordered hot green tea. When the tea was delivered to the table, the waitress had added a small pitcher of honey on the side, to be added to the tea, to help his sore throat. A small thing, but it blew us away for attention to detail.

The food was delicious – Summer Rolls with two sauces, Chicken Sate’, Larb, Grilled Chicken, Phad Thai and Panang Curry. Everything cooked to perfection, or, in the case of the Summer Rolls, not cooked, but still perfection. 🙂 Great conversation, really good food, and a very thoughtful waitress – we can’t wait to go back. 🙂

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Customer Service, Eating Out, Food, Living Conditions, Pensacola | 2 Comments

Changes in the Air

“It’s still hot,” I said as we were coming out of the movie, “but can you feel a change in the air? Even though it’s hot, the air is changing, the light is changing – you can feel hints that Fall is coming . . . ”

We had just been to see “The Help,” and if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to make plans to see it soon. It is a really good movie, which will make you laugh, and cry, and remember that it wasn’t so long ago in our country when it took place. (You can read my review of the unforgettable book here.)

The movie is a serious movie, and at the same time, I loved the attention to detail – the hair, the fashions, the manners – all very 50’s, even though it is the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi.

I remember reading this book in Qatar, just after I had moved back there from Kuwait. The Kuwait book club also read White Tiger and Half of a Yellow Sun, all of which had domestic service as at least part of the theme. It’s another one of those cultural things we all have in common – how do we treat the people who work for us? How do they see us? Who is raising our children and teaching them values?

In the Gulf, there are horror stories in the papers of servants who never receive their wages, or who work 16 hours a day, sun-up to sun-down, with never a day off. The families who take good care of their servants never make the papers, but I have seen good and caring relationships, lasting many years, between employers and employees. We’re glad we saw this movie, which sticks closely to the book. For a fuller experience – read the book.

Meanwhile, the temperature early this morning was below 69° F, which means that my tomatoes will begin setting once again and we may have a good crop coming before the cold sets in. I noticed, to my horror, I have a decent crop of weeds trying to establish themselves while it is too hot for me to go out and do battle with them. Some of my tomatoes actually continued producing even during the hottest days of the summer; I’m going to have to plant more of those next year. The golden pear and the red pear tomatoes are producing merrily; the bigger tomatoes have stopped – I hope temporarily.

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Books, Character, Civility, Community, Cross Cultural, Cultural, Doha, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Fiction, Friends & Friendship, Gardens, Generational, Interconnected, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Pensacola, Qatar, Random Musings, Social Issues, Work Related Issues | Leave a comment

Culture of Honor Shortens Lives

As I read this article, I thought about life growing up in a small town in Alaska, and how similar it was to life in Qatar and Kuwait, where you live all your life in one community and reputations, once ruined, are never lived down.

HealthDay News
For Men, ‘Culture of Honor’ Can Be Deadly

Mindset spurs risky behaviors and is most prevalent in U.S. South and West, study shows.

By Kathleen Doheny, HealthDay News

MONDAY, Aug. 15 (HealthDay News) — Psychologists call it the “culture of honor,” a mostly male mindset that places a high value on defending one’s reputation at any cost. But new research confirms that it’s linked with high rates of accidental deaths.

“People who embrace these values also report more risk-taking,” explained study author Dr. Ryan Brown, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman.

This dangerous male mindset is also more prevalent among those living in the South and West, in such states as South Carolina, Texas and Wyoming, he added.

In two studies published in the current issue of the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, Brown looked at the consequences of such thinking.

First, he compared rates of accidental deaths (car accidents, drowning, over-exertion and so on) in all U.S. states. He found the so-called “honor states” had higher rates than non-honor states (such as New York, Ohio, Wisconsin).

More than 7,000 deaths a year can be blamed on risk-taking linked with the “culture of honor,” he said.

The behavior was most common in more rural areas of the honor states, he found. In the cities of honor states, he found a 14 percent higher accidental death rate than in the cities of non-honor states. He found a 19 percent higher rate in the smaller towns of honor states compared to non-honor states.

“In a smaller town, your reputation is much more important,” he said. It’s likely that everyone knows your business, and that could be good or bad for your reputation, he explained.

In a second study, Brown surveyed 103 college students from his university, including 79 women.

The participants completed tests measuring how much they subscribed to the culture of honor, finished a self-esteem test and answered questions about their tendencies toward risk-taking behavior. A sample statement to which they agreed or not was: “A real man doesn’t let other people push him around.”

The more the person subscribed to a culture of honor, the more likely they were to engage in risky behaviors, the findings showed.

The effect was there for women, too, Brown said.

He and others have previously noted that this culture of honor originated with the Ulster Scots (mistakenly sometimes called the Scotch-Irish) who came to the United States during the 18th century.

In their homeland, he said, they were herders and were always being invaded by someone. They learned to protect and defend themselves, not always in ideal ways. A typical statement, Brown noted: “You take one of our cows, we will take your whole herd.”

The culture of honor behavior persists, he said, despite the disappearance of the herds.

It has staying power, Brown added, and is fostered through norms and values about masculinity and femininity. It’s the stuff of country songs, he explained.

That makes sense to Richard Nisbett, the Theodore M. Newcomb Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He is the author of Culture of Honor: The Psychology of Violence in the South.

In the past, Nisbett explained, “if you kept animals for a living, you ran the risk of having your entire livelihood taken away [if someone opens the pasture gate, for instance].”

In modern times, “if you stand the risk of losing your livelihood easily and the state is not around to protect you, you are going to develop this kind of culture of honor,” Nisbett said.

There’s more to it than showing off for women, although that is part of it, he added. It is also, for a man, showing other guys your toughness.

While Brown’s research and that of others clearly shows that some states aren’t honor states, Nisbett said that the behavior is kept going partly by the false belief that everyone else subscribes to the same mindset.

“We tend to think of the culture of honor as historical,” said Joe Vandello, an associate professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. But, “elements of this culture of honor still exist today.”

Simply becoming aware of the phenomenon might help reduce the behavior, Brown noted. Even though it can become “part of your programming,” he said, “we have a will, we have a choice.

Learn more in the Everyday Health Emotional Health Center.

August 16, 2011 Posted by | Community, Cultural, Health Issues | 6 Comments