HCMC Dining Guide

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Your country is worse than mine

Silly post time! I've noticed recently that one of the favorite activities of the expat community here is the merciless bashing of countries where other expats are from. A major venue for this international insulting is the weekly Hash House Harrier run, which I've participated in for the past two weeks.

The Hash House Harriers is a group formed in Kuala Lumpur back in the 1930's by British colonialists. The run is based off of the old British sport of having a hare chased through the countryside by harriers, a type of hunting dog. Today, there are Hash House Harrier chapters all over the world. It works like this: two "hares" lay a trail of shredded paper through  an area well outside of the city, and the "harriers" - everyone else - have to follow the paper, trying to avoid the occasional false trail. I've really enjoyed the runs, since they are a way to get a lot of exercise - running 10km in the stifling Vietnamese heat will completely wear you out - and they are a great way to get out of the city for a few hours and see some of the countryside. It is refreshing to run through some real forest and observe rural life that is based on animals and crops. Of course, coming across the occasional several-acre plot of slash and burn deforestation can be a bummer, but that is one of the unfortunate prices of development.

The demographics of the people involved in the runs vary across a wide range, but the group is dominated by a cadre of incredibly profane, sexually deviant, and mostly drunk middle-aged men. Their foul-mouthed conversations - that doesn't seem like the right word - on the bus rides to the country and back make Quentin Tarantino's movies look family-friendly in comparison. As is normal with any expat group here, they come from several different countries - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the UK being the most common. On my runs I've met people from France, South Africa, the Netherlands and Ireland, as well as several Vietnamese. Making fun of people for their home country takes up a large percentage of the discussion, and as an American I've come in for my share of criticism - although I had to tell them I was American, since I had my Polish national soccer team jersey on the first time I went and everyone thought I was Polish. The jist of the insults is that Americans are stupid. Now, I know we have people in the U.S. that make signs like this:

and this:

...but isn't the "stupid American" slur getting a little old? I did get a bottle of water poured on my head when they found out I was from New Orleans, since "I should know a little bit about water." I thought that was more creative. I've also learned that Australian women are apparently totally bored by sex and that everyone from Ireland is bankrupt. The harshest barbs seem to be saved for Kiwis, thanks to their apparent fondness for screwing sheep.

All of this is highly entertaining, since I'm new to the expat community and it's interesting to see how camaraderie is built here. In a world where political correctness has taken away some of our funniest jokes, it is liberating to have a few hours each week where nearly every conversational boundary is done away with; everything is up for comment, and everything will probably be commented on in a very graphic way. If you have a Hash House Harrier Group in your area, check it out - it's a great time.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds awesome. Id love to talk to a bunch of random people about New Orleans and America. In fact if I make it over there I'm gonna bring a Denim Jacket with an American flag on the back specifically for this evnet.