Thursday, June 03, 2010

Pouring red wine into the emptied white wine glass.

Every nation has its good and bad points, and most often they co-exist.

Whenever I come to the United States, I am always impressed by the beauty of their casual culture. I mean, they don't care whatever you do, as long as you keep a certain degree of decency.

The initiation into the American culture on this trip started on the Delta Airlines fight from Narita. The flight attendant was a very nice lady, with a wide smile and a big heart.

At the meal time I was drinking white wine. As the meat was going to arrive, I asked her for a glass of red wine. Sure, she said, smiling like a sunshine. A moment later, she came back with a bottle of red wine in her hand. She then poured the red wine into the glass. That was fine. The "slight" problem was that the glass she poured the red wine into was the glass I was using for the white wine. And of course she herself poured that white wine into that glass, just a few minutes ago.

Now I started thinking. Gee. Surely, when I am drinking wine at home, or at a private party, I don't care if I use the same glass for the white wine and the red wine. Theoretically, the remnant white might mix with the red and affect the taste, but that would be quite negligible. But never, in my life, had I observed a flight attendant pour red wine into the emptied white wine glass. That kind of action would be inconceivable in the meticulously careful cabin of ANA (All Nippon Airways) or JAL (Japan Airlines). A veteran flight attendant of JAL might swoon and faint at the very idea!

Having said that, I rather liked the casual manner in which the emptied white wine glass was used for the red wine as well. Maybe it is good for the earth. Maybe we are making too much of a fuss about glasses and vintages and all that. Maybe we should forget about it all and just take it easy.

What I wanted to say, really, is that there might be a link between my flight attendant on the Delta flight and the American spirit of venture, as observed in Apple and Google, for example. By being casual one could presumably concentrate on new things, bring about changes, and move forward.


What I have just said is just a thought, probably never to be proved theoretically or in practice, but this morning, after spending a night in the world's prime nation of casual manners, I rather like being released from the pressures of observing one's etiquettes.


Bobby Shen said...

It does seem like a cultural difference. Here in New Zealand we are even more casual, especially the way we dress and conduct ourselves. In the same way the Japanese language has a huge amount of formalities that a foreigner might not even be able to comprehend by thinking in their own language.

Alice said...

"By being casual one could presumably concentrate on new things, bring about changes, and move forward. "

NIce phrase, totally agree. Yet difficult to apply @ work especially within a Japanese Corporation.
Which is so 'Zannen' for not just the company, but the Japanese economy as a whole.

MK said...

I just remembered what I once was saying to my English friend in London, "Yes, it is, kind of, suffocating to work at a Japanese company. We are supposed to do the same things, to follow others. We are expected to behave likewise." She opened her eyes with glitter and looked very much interested in this peculiar far east island.

Anyway, I also like the casual way of American manner which perhaps leads to the spirit of freedom.
Thank you for pointing out the wine incident.
I feel released by such delicate small things whenever I go abroad.

Naomi said...

Living in both Japan and the US for a while, I prefer casual side. I was born and raised in Japan, but I have to admit that living and working in Japan makes me tired sometimes. Everything feels "Too much", and that's often ended up with "High cost".

We need to learn "just about right". Don't be too picky!

Yuzu said...

I think that western people,especially American people like to say joke.In reverse,they think that Japanese don't have nice humor.
In my life, I think that sense of humor is very very important for human relations.
I think that Einstein knows it so well.

Lisa said...

"beauty of their casual culture"...what an interesting way to put their culture in nice phrase.

Being Japanese and grew up in US through elementary school-highschool, I always admired sensitivity in Japanese and European culture with the course of their long history and sophisticated culture, and I still do, but I guess I am very comfortable with what I grew up with whether I liked it or not. Reading your post reminded me of how I understand and sometimes appreciate their easy going casual manner nevertheless! Trying to be descent in Japanese culture could be sometime too serious, isn't it?

Takuro said...

Dear Dr.Mogi-sensei,

I also think that being casual is important, yet I have made a serious mistake by being too casual.

I had a date with one girl last March.
She and I encountered on the web since both of us are readers of your blog and are leavig comments on your blog.

On the day of our first date, She dressed up herself very beautifully, and I was...terribly casual...

I learned a good lesson.

Petrusa de Koker said...

Here in South Africa we are somewhat casual as well. Very few men would wear a suit and tie to work and if one see someone all dressed up, it is usually because they like to and not because they have to. Greetings are mostly informal and may sometimes even be a shout like "Môlô!!" (Hallo) accross the street to a friend on the other side.
However, quite a few of my friends will also swoon and faint if red wine is poured in a glass that was used for white wine.