When are mobile phones too loud?

July 30, 2008 at 1:33 pm Leave a comment

Coming to the end of my holiday 😦 I have SO many photos I will probably crash Flickr or the ThinkingShift blog when I load them! And so many observations to tell you about. I’ve rushed into an Internet cafe and so a quick post on a major observation – mobile/cell phones. When do they become intrusive, irritating, just plain annoying?

I spend a lot of time riding up and down the rail tracks between Sydney and Newcastle and am bombarded with people yapping away on their mobiles, talking loudly, not caring who hears what. Since arriving in Europe, I’ve noticed that the Italians speak into their mobiles softly and often covering their mouths to soften the sound. Same in Portugal. They speak softly. None of the loud, intrusive drivel I hear from Australians as they yap into their mobiles.

I’ve noted too that Italians and Portuguese are far more polite than Australians. Less arrogant. Less pretentious. Sure I’ve come across a few dudes who think they look pretty spiffy or have a bit of ‘tude. I’ve had to ask for directions, order coffee/food, buy stuff in supermarkets – everyone has been happy to help, with one man in Portugal going out of his way to accompany me two blocks to show me where a particular shop was.

Yes, of course there are some very polite Australians. And there are some (like me) who will not take a mobile phone call on a train because they don’t wish to inflict a trivial conversation on other people. But I have to say that Europeans seem to think more about other people and don’t wish to disturb or disrupt. One Italian I was chatting with said (and he had been to Sydney) that Australians, because of their isolation, think that Australia is THE best country in the world and that we have become uncaring of others, suspicious of others and only worry about the self, not the collective.

I am curious as to how I’ll feel on my return to Australia – I have been loving my time in Europe and frankly, am not so keen to return to Oz. Things here are so easy. You don’t have to spend 12 hours on a flying death trap (ie plane) to get to say France. You don’t have to get in the car and drive 10 minutes to get a coffee – pastelerias are everywhere in Portugal. Pop out your front door and you are bound to come across one with scrumptious ‘bolos’ – cakes. In the South, usually made from almonds. People can walk easily as there is less distance to cover hence people here are slimmer and as I said in a previous post, the elderly here are pretty spritely. Last week, an 84 year old chap walked us around a two hectare property (we are looking to buy some land). He was chatting away and walking with no problems. In fact, he was still working as a real estate agent. I didn’t see one jot of the land as I was way too busy marvelling at him. I’ve yet to learn his health secrets!

The scenery in Portugal is very soft. It is refreshing not to see eucalyptus trees but rather a variety of tree species. Sunflowers reach up to the sun. The sky here is a very unusual pale blue. I was quite taken aback by this since I’m used to the harsher light of Australia and the deeper blue sky.

Sounds like I’ve never been to Europe before doesn’t it! But no: I’ve been here many times but this time around, I am really taking the time to see things differently. The camera lens is helping me do this I think. I’ve taken lots of shots of old people. They are everywhere – sitting in the sun chatting to others, old and young. In cafes. Looking out of windows. In the vineyards. Walking up the street. Integrated into the society here and not shunted off into “retirement villages” or special estates for the “over 55s”.

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