Saturday, April 9, 2011

A better way of living

I just got back from Portugal. I love that country. People are so incredibly nice and helpful that when I came back to France last night, I had something like a cultural shock. People were smocking in the train (and it is forbidden), young boys were calling a guy with nasty names on the street, just waiting for the right occasion to pick up a fight, and on the overcrowded train people would not even more an inch to leave some place also for the new arrived.

On the other side, in Portugal everyone got out of their way to help me in any possible way and to help me and make me feel comfortable. I went for dinner with two colleagues of mine and beside that we spent 15 euros in 3 people, the lady of the place where we had dinner gave as a present 3 small cakes to the other two people with me (I couldn't have them unfortunately, they had cream and milk) and fresh bread to me. For free. As a present.

And this is just an example.
Unfortunately, the country is sinking, economically. Every country is facing economic problems (I have to find out the cuts on which the US government agreed...I hope that they will not cut funds for the EPA and the global climate change research), but the situation in Portugal is particularly bad....and it is not a very good feeling for me considering that I will have to move there in October and start to work there. I just did all the necessary paper-work to accept the job offer, now I hope to sign the contract very soon.

However, I was very impressed by the high life-style that people seem to have there. It doesn't look like a country facing a serious economic crisis. People are very well dressed, make up, women with jewelery, lot of cellphones each, lot of amazing new cars that I could never afford with my current salary (not I would spend it in a fancy car, anyway)...it seems like everyone has lot and lot of money by just walking around in the street and looking at people. They told me that Portuguese often live much above their financial possibilities and this is completely incomprehensible for me why they would do that, especially knowing that this behavior would create even more problems to the whole country.

I had a lunch with other two colleagues, we are all scientists, and we also discussed about this topic. All the three of us agreed that instead of creating more and more problems by adjusting the world to us, we should decrease our consumptions of things and waste less.
It is a common practice now that when something breaks, it is easier to buy a new one and throw the old one out than trying to repair it. This creates a lot of waste, a lot of trash that we are not able to displace. Not only, the current economy wants us to buy new things, so it is cheaper most of the times to buy new things that repairing them. Furthermore, and very sadly so, people who are able to repair things are disappearing. I grew up in a place where people repairing bikes, electronics, whatever object was the standard and now these jobs are not needed anymore. They are also not considered "good enough" by our classist (I guess this word doesn't exist.....I mean our view of dividing people in classes) view of the society. We value people who are able to make money, lots of money. It doesn't matter how they achieve that.

I recently saw the documentary "Inside Job". I think that everyone should watch it....just to have an idea of where we are currently going....We are just too selfish to be able to make a better place and a more functional place in which to live.

1 comment:

girl dreaming said...

I appreciate your post. It is so nice to have a reminder of the simplicity and friendliness of portuguese people...

I feel broken hearted that money is the main focus in the world... not other ways of lving that are more enjoyable and meaningful.