From Iceland — Sour Grapes and Stuff

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Published June 1, 2012

Sour Grapes and Stuff

Dear Cod Wars,
Are you familiar with the Icelandic phrase “farðu ekki að grenja”?
Unfortunately it played on repeat in my head from around the middle of your piece “Icelanders Invade Your Personal Space” and all the way to the end. This was a real shame, because it was excellently written and very funny. You obviously have a gift for writing. I just wish you would put your superpowers to better use.
I can understand that a lot of Icelandic mannerisms and customs can seem foreign and downright rude to you. That generally happens where there is a clash of cultures. However, a good rule-of-thumb is that “When in Rome…”
You don‘t go to a foreign country and, pardon my language, shit all over their customs and mannerisms because they are different from what you are used to back home. It is rude and disrespectful. I particularly enjoyed your choice of words for “yet another peasant farmer”. You must think very highly of yourself since you can go around judging other people in that condescending manner.
Icelanders just don‘t need as much personal space as you do. It is a cultural difference that you will just have to get used to if you are going to continue to live here.
That being said, bumping into someone and not apologizing is not the general, accepted Icelandic behaviour. I am Icelandic and I always apologize if I bump into someone, and would find it rude not to. I even apologize when someone bumps into me! Might I suggest that your uncouth friend from the airport was just plain rude and it, in fact, had nothing to do with his nationality?
I do so hope that you will try to be more accepting to the cultural behaviour of the country you yourself choose to live in. After all, unless you walk around wearing a sign saying “Keep away, I‘m English,” random strangers have no idea that you are uncomfortable with their Icelandic behaviour. And perhaps *they* shouldn‘t have to adjust *their* behaviour…
All the best,
Food for Thought
Dear Food For Thought (if that IS your real name),
thank you for your letter. You make a fair point. So fair, in fact, that we’ve decided to bestow upon you not one but TWO pairs of woollen socks to reward your efforts in standing up for the oppressed, uncivilized masses that inhabit this desolate rock of an island. Surely Mr. Cod Wars just doesn’t understand that we need all the physical contact we can get, being born and raised in this most sparsely populated corner of Europe. It’s just the way it is. We go around touching one another without asking permission. It’s sexy. It makes us feel good. Yum.
Also yeah, “farðu ekki að grenja” (“don’t be a crybaby” for all you whiny Englishmen reading this) no doubt ran through the minds of other local readers as they engulfed Mr. Wars’ rant.
However, you must understand that complaining about trivialities while condescending locals in a foreign country is a long-standing custom of the British Empire, dating back to when actually was an Empire (one that actively went around the globe looking for peasants to complain about, look down upon and enslave and stöff). As you said, “When in Rome…”
In fact, you should just be happy Mr. Wars didn’t try to colonise you or mine you for resources or get you hooked on opium before complaining about your backward tribe’s customs.  Thank your stars!
But yeah. You might also consider how entertained you were by Mr. Wars’ article. That’s another custom of his people: being all tongue-in-cheek and entertaining on paper (and in real life!) Maybe he was just trying to have fun? Or maybe he was truly freaked out? No one will ever know, but as long as his writing is fun, we plan on publishing more of it.
OK write more letters! Love you!

I just saw your status on FB and thought, maybe, if you are interested in sharing it, this is something I could tell you about.
This is my freshly started blog about my travels. (Starting with this post:
If it matters: Iceland isn’t that much of a topic in this blog, since I am not traveling Iceland. But my mom is Icelandic and made me grow up there some time of my life. She went back living there and I am therefore “á klakanum” pretty much, very much and often.
Just a thought.
Cheers and see you on FB,
Dear Íris,
thank you so much for your letter. And also thank you for making your blog. What the internet needs is more people expressing themselves. That much is clear. We read your blog and we can say with full certainty that it isn’t any worse than any other blog out there. It turns out you are in Las Vegas, Nevada. That’s pretty cool. How is Vegas? Are you liking it? Surely, it must be different from Iceland. Or is it?
Wait, but you have left Vegas, a further read reveals. You sure do like to travel. We wish we could travel as much. Oh well.
In any case, thank you for documenting your life and travels on your blog, and for writing us a letter about it. It is much appreciated.

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