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Travel gives you an objective view of culture

Everyone knows that travel gives you a broader sense of “the world”, and ultimately redefines the reality of your personal universe. Everyone’s personal universe is different. It is your concept of “the world” at any given time, and it can expand beyond the realms of our galaxy or in an instant it can contract down to a single spot on your arm. Whatever you are concerned with at the moment, that is your personal universe. While you are reading this blog post, your universe is probably just the screen you are staring at, or maybe the room you’re sitting in. Your universe does not contain penguins dancing around on Antarctica, until now. Now that I’ve even mentioned it, your personal universe immediately expands to incorporate “penguins in Antarctica”.

A few months back I took a trip to Amsterdam and snapped this photo with my trusty camera phone (see previous post):

Wooden shoes in Amsterdam

The above photo is a bunch of wooden shoes, hand carved by a Dutch artisan right there in Holland. With each unique pair exhibiting their own “personality”, these wooden shoes are known as clogs and are still worn by a small segment of the Dutch population (mostly farmers). Their primary purpose is to protect the feet of hard working individuals from sharp farming implements and rough terrain, and be easy to get in and out of in a hurry.

By contrast, I was walking through the airport in Toronto a couple months later and stopped dead in my tracks to take this photo:

Plastic shoes in Toronto

Above is a photo of a bunch of plastic shoes, injection molded by a Chinese or Mexican or some other outsourced manufacturer. These shoes are also sometimes called clogs, and are worn by a certain segment of the world population (not farmers). I’m not sure what their primary purpose is, aside from providing obscene amounts of cushioning so as not to upset the wearer’s ever expanding kankles. To be fair though, just about every photo I could find on google images show your average skinny hippy type wearing them. Even still, I can’t help but picture only fat/preggo, smoking, supermarket shuffling, smelly feet, “flip-flop slobs” wearing them. Just thinking about people’s sweaty feet squishing around in clammy plastic kinda makes me wanna do this.

It’s obvious where the two cultures intersect, then head off in totally different directions. But through my travels, I’ve learned that there are certain universal truths about humankind which are reflected by these photos:

a) humans like color, but only in a contiguous pattern. Nobody likes chaotic color.

b) humans like putting colorful shoes on large vertical racks.

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