Saturday, June 24, 2006

Wearing Country Badges On The Road (and MFAs)

The World Cup set off a frenzy of flag-waving -- especially the kind that stick out of car windows. At least here in Toronto. Now a friend who lives in Sydney, Australia, said that the phenomenon is Down Under, and for the first time, too. (Someone is making a large fortune on those things.)

I think it's nice to see for World Cup, but it made me think about other times we show our country colors. I am thinking now of the nice 'Canada' badge I had sewn on my back pack. If people knew I was a visitor from a (mostly) friendly country, I thought, they'd be nicer to me. But in Hong Kong a month or so ago, I carefully snipped the threads holding the badge to my back pack, and tucked the badge safely inside.

It's not that I am not proud of my country. I am. But, rather than stand out in a crowd, I wanted to blend in. Toting a day pack is not that unusual in many places, even in Hong Kong. But most people do *not* have their country emblazoned on their packs. I did. I stood out. Easily identified to one and all as someone new in town, and perhaps an easy target for those who did not wish me well. This would be the case most anywhere, except at home in Canada.

Even if I stand out because of my skin and hair color, I could be a resident, especially if I looked like I knew where I was going. But label yourself a tourist (reading city maps in public places will do this, too), and you may as well say 'Target Here!'

So take your cues from the local in the street. If they are all walking down the main streets wearing shorts and golf shirts, or mini skirts and halter tops, then go nuts. But if you want to blend in with the crowd, then tone it down.

And, as an aside, I see someone has been logged onto this (copyrighted) blog for several days now. Either they find me fascinating, or they are copying my material for use on an MFA site. Happens all the time. Write your own content, people!