Saturday, June 27, 2009

Summertime, and the living IS easy.


Summer in Dublin.

The weather here has been gorgeous: warm, sunny, NEVER humid - ideal. Stark contrast to what I have been hearing from back in NJ...Apparently it has rained 20 of the last 25 days?? Wtf? Sorry about that guys...come to Dublin!

Still find it weird that it is socially accepted for guys to walk around the streets with their shirts off as soon as the temperature reaches over 65 F. Even on public transportation - No shirt? No problem! I find this a bit off but I guess you need to take in all the Vitamin D you can over here before the season changes back to "Overcast" which endures for months on end. I've seen girls tanning topless in public parks, Irish bros doing back flips into the River Liffey off the Docklands, and a bum pass out from the heat (or the drug addiction?) on Moore St....Loving summer here so far, but it is noticeably different from the city I touched down in back in January.

I used to revel in the quiet afternoons you could spend in Dublin during the week: Every weekend, in every month, the city heaves with loads of tourists, so I always enjoyed going into town on a more subdued afternoon in the middle of the week, just to enjoy the city in a more quiet state. You can sit in the same places where only a few days before masses of people were filtering in and out: smoking, drinking, eating, laughing, - noisy and distracting. However with the advent of summer, Dublin is crowded everyday - riddled with tourists constantly coming and going - a perpetual weekend, basically. (NOT complaining! Loads of fun). It makes me miss the quiet days.

I remember mornings in Dublin during the winter. They were bustling but sleepy - commuters on cruise control meandering their way to their jobs in a robotic and involuntary stride. I loved being in Dublin in the early mornings moving among this crowd. Not like I had a job to go to, (classes, yes) but waking up with the city is something I have always enjoyed - I think of NYC. It's even more enchanting in NYC because of all the neon lights. Have you ever been in Times Square at 5 in the morning? I highly advise it. The city that never sleeps actually does doze off for a bit, and as you take it all in, it feels like someone turned the city on mute. Neon lights are stories tall in the darkness but there are no sounds. Few people. It's amazing.

Summer changes this city, and gives Dublin somewhat of a face-lift: All the business are open, it's more crowded, more international, more diverse. I can't help but wonder if pieces of Dublin's personality, history, and identity are lost among the global brands, the Starbucks cups, the blaring tour buses. I wonder if commercializing "Ireland"and consolidating it to sound bites and stereotypes - does this result in losing a piece of what Dublin, and Ireland, really is? This goes for every city in an increasingly global world.

It is what it is, I guess. It's not a bad thing either. Being here has reaffirmed for me that "clashing" nationalities really only highlight similarities between people. I love the constant exposure to people from all over the world.

I worked with a catering company last weekend that was catering a Bat Mitzvah in Dublin. I was collaborating with the hosting family to organize and assemble all the decorations, and also got to interact with the Rabbi for a bit. Clearly working with a Jewish community in the middle of Dublin is unconventional, but it gave me perspective and was a reaffirmation that there are so many integral pieces to every cultural identity that it is overwhelming. Maybe the only way we can attempt to make sense of everything is by making broad and often inaccurate generalizations (i.e. everyone in Ireland is a drunk) and by exploiting the culture itself via fabricated symbols (i.e. selling Leprechaun mugs, jewelry, underwear, hats, shot glasses - anything you can print that little fairy man onto).

I don't know how I feel about it all. I cash in just like everyone else, I'm not above it.

Anyway.

Not much else to say, loving life really. Went to Manchester for a few days which was amazing and I will write about it later. I've essentially been on holiday for 6 months so I'm just trying to appreciate it all before reality yanks me back to New Jersey. I'm looking at flights and planning to come home during the first 10 days in August. Stay tuned.

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