10,9,8,….3,2,Karl.

10 days remain until I set off to become the only rowing coach in the Maldives… lol. The next 10 d

ays will be filled with saying goodbye, buying tea and coffee (English people are the only people I know who insist on taking months’s worth of a drink wherever they go) and making money to spend on non-alcoholic cocktails I can sip on the beach.

That’s the thing, I don’t even know what the beach will be like (there definitely won’t be any cocktails knocking about). Am I a tourist if I am working? No one really ever sees themselves as a tourist when they are doing touristy things, well at least I always see myself as “exploring” or “learning”. Also us Brits abroad tend to call local people “foreigners” which only takes a split-second of consideration to realise how stupid that is.

 

When I think of travel my thoughts immediately turn to one man, the unthinking man’s Michael Palin. Those who know me will know I am a great fan of Karl Pilkington (whose new series starts in two days!!!) and that I consider him to be genuinely very impressive. On An Idiot Abroad, his small-mindedness is actually not an exaggerated caricature of his own idiosyncrasies, but actually is probably closer to what goes through everyone’s minds when they visit other cultures alien to their own. Karl only measures things against that which he is familiar with and in the clip above who can argue with him when he points out that “they’ve done the hard bit” and that all they need to render the Chinese toilets acceptable would be “a couple of hinges and a door, and maybe some toilet paper”. Watching his show is like watching an outer-body experience, and anyone who says the contrary is denying all the times they have refused to try a local dish, acted disappointed when there is no BBC on the hotel television and spoken to locals in English assuming they will understand. What people don’t want to admit is that they enjoy laughing at Karl because we are all as small-minded as he is, except most of us have more filters between our thought processes and our mouths than this silver-screen sensation might.

Bearing this in mind, my trip to the Maldives is one to be embraced in true Pilk

ington Spirit; I need to develop my own relationship with the culture and that can only be achieved through understanding how various pillars of British society, such as my tea and coffee, translate 5000 odd miles to the Maldives. Therefore remain open-minded, but also grounded in what I already know. Ultimately the reason why I am going is because I need to share what knowledge I have with people over there and as a result I have to keep a little British in me to fulfill the role of the foreign-rowing-coach-who-will-help-get-people-rowing, and to do that, I have to also keep a little bit of Karl in me too.

Karl-Pilkington

 

 

 

 

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