Annabel Kantaria (@BellaKay), writing in her regular column for Expat Telegraph, reminded me of some of the cultural anomalies I’ve encountered over the years and over the nations I’ve lived in. For example, the fact that you’re not allowed to hang your washing out to dry on a Sunday in Germany…or rather, you can’t hang it out if anyone can see it. Annabel also pointed out an odd washing phenomenon that exists in Dubai where she lives…
There you’re not allowed to hang your washing out to dry if your balcony or garden faces the street or other public area. Apparently Abu Dhabi and Sharjah residents face the same restriction, and you can be fined about £175 if you flout the law. It’s all to do with having unsightly balconies – or otherwise - and in a way, I think it’s great that everyone is required to keep their home tidy.
I also appreciated the rules in Germany that placed a strict noise restriction on you over the lunchtime hours each day, all day on a Sunday and after 10pm at night. However, when living abroad some of the cultural anomalies are less sensible, and some even drive expats mad…
For example, I have a friend who lives in Switzerland. She rents an apartment and in the basement there are communal washing facilities…sensible you might think, it saves each resident having to have their own washing machine and tumble dryer. However, the facilities are divided and labelled and foreigners are allowed to use those on the one wall, whilst the others in the basement are for use by Swiss citizens.
Hmmmm….cultural anomaly or blatant racism…you can decide.
One of the strange rules in Germany related to the fact that men in my apartment block were not allowed to stand to urinate. It was even in my rental contract! Mind you, the walls were pretty thin and I could hear my neighbour’s bum squeaking on the bottom of the bath when he partook of his weekly bathing ritual – so I did appreciate the fact that I couldn’t hear all the men in the apartments going to the toilet!
A friend of mine who lives in Cyprus tells me that every single Sunday is ‘family day’ and everyone heads to the beach or the Troodos Mountains depending on the weather. This is only a cultural anomaly for Britons because we seldom see our families it seems!
So where do you live and what local customs have you come across that strike you as unusual, strange or actually completely logical? We’d love to hear from you.