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I am an Italian localization expert, writer, blogger and translator/proof-reader living in Berlin (Germany), passionate about intercultural communication and good movies. 

Would you like to learn Italian or do you need a localization expert / translator? 
Are you interested in intercultural communication or diversity management? 
Are you looking for a Tandem-partner or for someone that can learn Scandinavian languages with you?

Just drop me a line for a coffee. I am always willing to get to know interesting and fascinating people.
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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The first secret of intercultural communication, or why screaming a name in the wrong language is not always the best choice for making new friends

Experience is not what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens to you.
Aldous Huxley [1894-1963]

It is a wonderful and sunny Spring evening in Berlin and I am glad to meet new, interesting people during a well organized event. 
The Vegan buffet is delicious, people are nice and the atmosphere is friendly and relaxed.
On my way to the kitchen, to help a little out with the dirty dishes, I suddenly hear... him.

The guy is tall, good looking (but somehow not attractive) and fit.
The guy is an actor, and a voice coach, and a radio speaker, and of course an alternative practitioner too. And probably a dozen of other things.
The guy... Or maybe I should use the word "man" for describing him, since he is definitely over forty years old.

And yet, he doesn't act at all like a man. He reminds me more and more of a scared, insecure and troubled child desperately looking for attention, any kind of it.
And if he would just not be so rude and verbally aggressive, I would probably feel very sorry for him. For his pain, his fears, his compelling need to be seen.

[When it is about attention seeking behaviour, 
I still prefer Calvin and Hobbes, and you?]

I met him briefly before, during a lecture we both attended to. We talked for some minutes and of course he asked immediately THE loathed question. Where do I am from!?

(I just detest this question. 
To put it better, I profoundly dislike it, I am sick of it, I hate it. 
But this is another story that deserves another post, 
so stay tuned for it)

[Where are you from?
is not exactly my favourite question while doing small talk.

AFTER hearing where I am from, and only after that, he: 
- said that it was totally clear, where I am from; [Internal dialog with myself mood ON: Then why did you ask, pal? mood OFF]
- made fun of my pronunciation and my way of speaking, even when I was not talking to him; [Oh thanks, this is so polite of you... after all we met already over ten minutes ago, so we are basically best friends now and you can be sarcastic, right? Please help yourself]
- wanted at any cost to give me tips about what to see and what to do in my hometown; [Well, I only spent over thirty years there, but thanks for giving me your insider tips even if I didn't ask at all about them]
- started to brag about having been able to perfectly learn Italian in one year. [Oh really? So interesting then that you are not speaking a single word in my mother tongue and that you are pronouncing my name in a terrible way all the time! Fantastic!]

Instead of being pissed off, annoyed or just as ill-mannered as he was, I smiled and did my best to remain friendly and not to pay too much attention to him. To enjoy the evening anyway, while discussing with other people and learning something new.

So I was busy while replying to a question someone else posed me, when he interrupted me in mid-sentence and he said quite verbally that he strongly disagreed with me and that I was wrong. 
Polite silence on my side. He insisted anyway to give his own opinion - absolutely not required, ça va sans dire - about the matter, even if he didn't hear what it has been said before and he didn't know why someone was asking me a question that was all about my personal experience. 
[Apparently you think you know me better than I do. Good job, old sport!]

I replied very quietly and I explained why his opinion was not really relevant, and the person that asked the question agreed with me. So he suddenly changed his opinion and after a while said that he completely agreed with me and we were basically saying the same. [Whatever, darling]

Not satisfied with this silly and useless game, after not even twenty minutes he behave in the same way while interrupting the person giving the lecture... And then...
You got it, right?

In a movie this would have been the first scene of some cheesy romantic plot about two people detesting each other and yet falling in love before the closing credits. 
In real life, it was just an unpleasant situation. Something not to think too much about and to forget after the lecture, hoping not to meet this person again.

[Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles in 
10 Things I Hate About You (1999) by Gil Junger,
or how to re-write Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew 
for the cool kids]

Life has very often a wicked sense of humour, so here we are, a week after that unlucky lecture.
The buffet is still very tasty and people are still smiling and nice, and yet the magic of the event has been somehow broken, and there he is, screaming at me from the other side of the room.

He - ​Hey Azuurr! Bonsoir!
He, talking to another man and explaining with his best John Wayne attitude how the world works - Yes, you know, this is how you have to greet an Italian woman, if you want to make her happy. 
Me, speaking in German, with a quiet voice and going away - Wenn Du meinst... [If you think so...]

He doesn't know anything about me. He doesn't know me as a person. He doesn't know who I am, what I like, what I want, what I dream, what I prefer, what I hate.
All that he knows is where I am from. And yet he is ironising about my nationality with another stranger, while thinking that he is charming and fun. 
[Yes, of course, please more of this! Scream even louder, so everybody can hear that you are not even able to pronounce my name or to use the correct foreign language for that! Irresistible!]
Pathetic. And so sad.

[The puppy eyes of Puss-in-Boots in Shrek 2 (2004) 
by Andrew Adamson, Kelly Asbury and Conrad Vernon
THIS is irresistible]

While interacting with people from other cultures or other countries, it is so easy and yet so tricky to assume that just because they are from that place XY or that other place ZW, one knows exactly what to say, what to do, how to deal with them. 
To think that just because one has been to that place for a short holiday or got to know other people from that place before or got interested in that culture, one can assume to be able to read like an open book every person from the same place or culture. To do the same thing over and over again while getting the same reaction, independently from which person one is actually talking to. 

Just because people from a place or a culture share some common background traits, it doesn't mean at all that they are all the same, or that they enjoy the same things. Or even less that they will do exactly the same, while being in a certain situation. 
That could happen... or not. And assuming that one already knows it all can cause misunderstandings, problems, frustration or embarrassment from both sides. 
The other person could be hurt or offended, while one only wanted to be nice, or funny, or whatever.

[Not only this gorgeous Purple Blythe doll is a customized OOAK
Each of use is one-of-a-kind]

Even if each of us got influenced from a specific culture or from specific experiences while growing up in a place, every person is unique and one-of-a-kind and he/she can embrace his/her culture or have mixed feelings about it. So one could react in an "unexpected" way because of a lot of different factors, like:
- his/her character type and personality;
- his/her way of life;
- his/her personal or professional choices;
- his/her previous experiences in similar situations;
- his/her social milieu;
- his/her values, dreams, expectations, standards;
- his/her current personal, professional or financial situation.

While interacting with a person from a different culture, the most important thing is trying to see the person, instead of seeing just another someone coming from no matter which place. 
The real person, with her uniqueness, her preferences, her personal story, her specific skills set, her dreams, her good and bad sides. A real human being, not someone one can put in a box with a label on it, as soon as it is clear what's the country on their passport. 

Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary, said Oscar Wilde.
I would add, never let anyone treat you like you're a living cliché.

Tags: Clichés about Italians, Diversity, People, Quotes, Intercultural communication, Cultural misunderstanding

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

150 movies in one year, a funny and pleasant work in progress - Part #2.

Women want love to be a novel. Men, a short story. 
Daphne du Maurier [1907-1989]

Someone - a very intelligent and unhappy man - told me once that love comedies and chick-flicks are for women what pornography is for men: a way for people to forget reality while getting lost in a not-real world made of images, bodies, sentences and situations that are as perfect as real life will never be and that will make reality and real people look somehow miserable and even more not-perfect than they actually are.

I guess that he is somehow right - and maybe also because of this so unhappy - and yet at the same time I still love to go to the movies and to discover a funny movie I missed or to have something to think about after seeing dramatic movies or a good documentary.

So, ladies and gentlemen...
here we are, with the second part of my movie marathon that will last for a whole year.

11. The Black Pirate by Albert Parker, with Douglas Fairbanks, Billie Dove, Donald Crisp (USA 1926)
Silent masterpiece, one of the first titles ever realized in Technicolor, the pirate movie that inspired all the further ones. Before Errol Flynn, Burt Lancaster, Peter Ustinov, Walter Matthau, Geena Davis and Johnny Depp... there was Doug. Douglas Fairbanks' acting style, stunts and look 'all in black' are still astonishingly modern and charming. But the best part is still his unbeatable naughty smile.

12. The Garden of Eden by Lewis Milestone, with Corinne Griffith, Charles Ray, Louise Dresser, Lowell Sherman (USA 1928)
Based on a play written by Rudolf Bernnauer and Rudolf Österreicher and set between Wien, Budapest and Monte Carlo, a very pleasant morality play about the young and innocent opera singer Toni Lebrun - portrayed by the now forgotten silent diva Corinne Griffith - and her not so charming (at least for today standards) Prince charming, Richard Dupont.
Some sequences are still totally funny and enjoyable and the character of Madame Bauer from Palais de Paris, with her sexual ambiguity and her masculine style, is incredible modern and surprising. Yet, for silent-movies lovers only.

13. Gunday (The Outlaws) by Ali Abbas Zafar, with Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra, Irrfan Khan (India 2014)
Bigger than life Bollywood-thriller about brotherhood, love and revenge with tons of dance numbers and references to the conditions of Bangladesh refugees in India. Surprising, sometimes weird but for sure entertaining as hell. Bigger than life.

14. Happy-Go-Lucky by Mike Leigh, with Sally Hawkins, Alexis Zegerman, Samuel Roukin (UK 2008)
Can someone be too nice, too happy, too colourful? Maybe sometimes... a little bit. Praised, awarded and quoted some years ago, and  yet that interesting, after all, but Sally Hawkins is wonderful and the flamenco lessons with a passionate Spanish teacher with a lovely accent are pure genius.

15. The Homesman by Tommy Lee Jones, with Tommy Lee Jones, Hilary Swank, Miranda Otto, Meryl Streep (USA/France 2014)
From a novel by Glendon Swarthout, an atypical western directed by Tommy Lee Jones, touching and more effective than too many feminist manifestos, if one wants to talk about how women were treated not so long ago, even in "democratic" countries... Hilary Swank is incredible, as usual. With interesting small roles for Meryl Streep and James Spader.

16. Honig im Kopf (t.l. Honey in Mind) by Til Schweiger, with Til Schweiger, Dieter Hallervorden, Jeanette Hain, Emma Schweiger (Germany 2014)
German blockbuster directed by the local movie star Til Schweiger about Alzheimer disease, a weekend in Venice and  how to keep one's identity when memories fade away. Not so interesting, but with a great actorial performance by Dieter Hallervorden.

17. Saving Mr. Banks by John Lee Hancock, with Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Colin Farrell (USA/UK/Australia 2013)
When P.L. Travers met Walt Disney, willing to adapt her Mary Poppins novels for the big screen at any cost, even if the introvert and verbal aggressive writer refused to sign away the rights for that for about twenty years. From a true story, with some poetic licences and a incredibly well written screenplay.
Emma Thompson is awesome and just unbearable, as an unpleasant and self-centered control-freak dealing with the Optimism itself, Mr. Disney, for the first time portrayed on screen by Tom Hanks, with style.

18. Still Alice by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland, with Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kate Bosworth, Kristen Stewart (USA/France 2014)
From a novel by Lisa Genova adapted for the screen by both directors, a touching and bittersweet movie about Alzheimer's disease and the massive impact it can have on the lives and careers of the patients and their families and colleagues.
Julianne Moore, awarded in 2015 with the Oscar, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award as best actress in a leading role for her performance as Alice Howland, talented linguistics professor somehow condamned to lose herself more and more because of the disease, is incredible, as usual.
I cried like a baby while hearing Alice's speech about struggling and fighting for her dignity and her memories while dealing with her new life situation.

19. Unmade Beds by Alexis Dos Santos, with Fernando Tielve, Déborah François, Iddo Goldberg, Michiel Huisman (UK 2009)
Also known as 'London Nights', a small-budget movie about the days, the nights and the unmade beds of the Spanish teenager Axl, the hipster Mike and her blond girlfriend Hannah and the Belgian librarian Vera, that live together in an occupied warehouse in London, while trying their best to have fun and to find their own way. A very pleasant extra: the mysterious (and totally cute) X Ray Man, portrayed by Michiel Huisman, and the game he plays with the elusive Vera. Thanks to Freddy for this one!

20. The Theory of Everything by James Marsh with Eddie Redmayne, Felicity Jones, David Thewlis (UK 2014)
From the book Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen by Jane Hawking, a touching biopic about the special relationship during over thirty years between the  physicist Stephen Hawking and his first love, Jane Hawking born Jane Wilde. Amazing actorial performance of the main actors and a small cameo for Emily Watson.

Tags: Cinema, Movie watcher, Movie adaptations, Silent movies, Love stories, People, Quotes

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