Good signs

Road signs.

Back online after being on the road for both personal and professional reasons. During the last few days I have travelled in Italy, the UK, the US and had the opportunity to experience some cultural shocks like I appreciate... In this post, I wanted to share with you a few signs I have bumped into, and which made me smile...

An eye on your pockets

In London, first, when walking up the street, I came across this first sign by Buckingham Palace. Having lived in several major cities, I am used to that kind of inconvenient side-effects that are called pickpockets. I touch wood, but so far my shaved and somehow tough-looking head (not to mention my prominent muscles) have managed to keep these nuisances away. Nevertheless my hears are now used the usual warning messages such as "watch your belongings", "thieves are operating in this station", etc. However, I had never come across such a sign:

Beware Where else than in the UK could you have the humour to reverse the proposition: instead of protecting the potential victims, let's remind the criminals of their own risks... "Bad boys, bad boys, what you gonna do, when they'll come for you" says the song.

The Italian job.

Next stop, Rome where I was visiting some friends who got married in the Eternal City (some pictures here). The Italian capital is not only renown for its ancient stones, its Vespas and other Fiat 500, but also for their relaxed interpretations of regulations... Note that Vespas and Fiat 500 are themselves loose interpretations of what a car and a scooter can or should be.

Anyway, walking in the narrow streets of Trastevere, a group of friends and I entered a Moroccan style shop where Shishas were at the customer's disposal on every single table. Nicely seated on cushions, you had the leisure to appreciate the subtle scents of exotic tobaccos, here with melon flavours, there with caramel hints... Comfortably installed, you could let your spirit wander alongside the smoke curls, until your eyes get in contact with the following scene:

No Smoking Right above the central centre of interest of the venue, a strange sign is stuck to the wall... Just like in the UK in July 2006 it is now "vietato fumare" in every public places in Italy: smoking is prohibited. I remember reading about a French paradox, but this example triggered another great smile on my face. Latin style baby, Latin style!

2 years later. Same story.

And finally the US... Georgia state and its big city Atlanta, or Fatlanta as some nicknamed it. A rejuvenating trip to their conference centre during which I had the chance to attend the largest employee meeting in the world with 13,500 attendees (MGX for the ones in the know). Rejuvenating because alongside the visionary presentations and inspiring speeches, we were invited to some social events which brought me back in time. I had not been in the US since 1999 and a student trip with some mates. I had not stepped in roller coasters for even longer, etc.

But what was awkward was that two years after writing my first blog post, I was facing the exact same situation which made me start this blog on the cultural differences and the funny misinterpretations that can be generated by foreign words read in your own language.

If you are a regular reader of these lines, or a French fellow-citizen, you will certainly get it at the sight of the advert below:Perfect Bite

Well, the US are so keen on superlatives. Everything is "the best", "the greatest", "the world #1"... that they could not avoid doing better than Marks&Spencers. The British chocolate was mini. In the US, the bite had to be perfect. Don't get it? Have a read here, but beware, you might never enjoy your chocolate sweets the same way.

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