CRISTINA BALMA-TIVOLA

KRI "muovere [k] liberamente [ri]" | STI "stare [s] in moto [ti]" | NA "effetto [ā] del soffio vitale delle acque [n]"

CRISTINA BALMA-TIVOLA

It’s All London Baby (Complaining the English Way, Hygienic Norms, and Some Healthy Confusion)!

I had a wonderful dinner last Thursday with a few (girl)friends – where I learnt to complain in the English way. “Complaining the English way” means that instead of mumbling and telling yourself you will never go again in a place you disliked for something due to the service or the food, you make it notice to the manager of the place, who will do its best to compensate you for what went wrong – with a dessert, or in any other fancy way. Cool, isn’t it? I like it – my critic attitude is definitely fulfilled by it.
Anyway, we had a lovely evening any anthropologists would dream about: talking with some other intellectuals, not from your field, about what we notice as similarities and differences between cultures – and Brigida and I are deeply embedded in this educational attitude and in broadering our knowledge about human cultures beyond academic community. So we spent some of our time teaching about hygienic norms and conceptions among gypsies, Italians and British people. When you take the shower in the morning, for example, we first use the bidet, and then take the shower: yes, we wash ourselves twice. And no, the bidet is not “that piece of forniture that fill the space between the WC and the sink”. Just as we would never use the small towel – the one we use to dry our privates – to dry our hands and face as well, for which we use the bigger towel. Of course, we had finished our dinner before talking about these issues – it wouldn’t be nice to talk about intimate washing whilst eating…
The day after I had what I consider the best interview I ever had for a job with whom could be considered at a first sight as a ‘weird’ professor – as I couldn’t even understand, before meeting, is she was a ‘she’ or a ‘he’. Her name is in fact Sue, but she uses as well the name Johnny to refer herself. On the net I saw some of her articles signed either with the masculine or the feminine name – so I couldn’t really understand. But at a certain point I didn’t worry about it anymore. “Whatever!” – I told myself, a comment really nice I learnt here, that means something like: “Whatever it is, it’s not an issue of mine, and/or it doesn’t make any difference” – it’s all London, baby!
Anyway, the inverview didn’t give me (at least not immediately) a job, but opened up some opportunities. What’s more important is that it has been the best inverview I had in my life: two hours spent 1) with a passionate person willing to learn about my researches, attitudes, aims, 2) listening with a sincere interest and care to me, 3) telling me a true and objective analysis of what I’ve done up now (so congratulating me for the good things as well as criticising for the wrong ones), 4) suggesting me the further steps to achieve my goals (and not forcing me to necessary do this in her department), and showing to be a people person with a deep and warm kindness to support me – like she could see my past in my eyes.
Unbelievable! Something special I wish all the ones I love to live by/with someone else such as a potential mentor/tutor. So I’m keeping on thinking/wondering/reflecting about this still now. I’m getting every day more confused, but still in a serene way. Thinking about next steps. What I want to do. Where I want to live the next few months. What am I actually looking for in general…