fredag 9. september 2011

On September and chai-ification

It´s September again. September is one of my favourite months. It tends to be a month when things are settled but still exciting. A new semester has started, and summer is over, but you´re not caught up in the darkness of November yet, and waiting for you are colors in abundity.

I am still not in the total mood of September. Moving to another country takes more than staying in the same place. There are contracts to sign, offices to visit, information to gather and things to buy, if you couldn´t bring everything. Having lived in  Tartu, Estonia for one month already, I can say I´m starting to know the place, so in that case September works. The lovely smell of September air can be enjoyed in the evenings and mornings some days.

Writing about things I like about Oslo, early in August, I mentioned, anecdotely, drinking chai latte with soy milk on a bench in front of one of the nicest mosques. Reflecting on globalization, which is a process also exemplified by my own transfer from Norway to Estonia, it definitely makes it easier when one can enjoy the products one is familiar with already. I have to confess I was surprised to find the chai latte, potentially with soy milk, in many places here.

To a Russian or Indian, the word "chai" means simply tea. To a Western person today it has come to be synonymous with Indian chai masala, consisting of black tea, spices (frequently including cardamom) and milk. It is definitely worth noting that in Estonia, a country with so many Russian-speakers, "chai" means "chai masala" in coffee bars. That shows how effective internationalization and standardized marketing work. It can also be seen when one can find a shop selling mostly Indian imports on the third floor of the biggest mall in town, and where one can also buy one´s organic chai masala, produced in India. Globalization today is different than twenty years ago, in that more and more Asian culture is exported to the West, giving American cultural exports some competition. Here, I speak about culture in the high culture and entertainment kind of way, and not mentality. Even though globalization might make the world a more boring place in the long run, because things become more the same, I have to admit it is pleasing to be able to buy the same organic tea here as in other places, or even Norwegian brown cheese - brunost.

Yes, September is starting to work, and things are calming down, but are still interesting. Still - I have to say that doesn´t mean there aren´t lots of things to do. Things are just becoming more clear.

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