The allowed and forbidden forms of nostalgia

I am often surprised with how much ease many of my colleagues seem to move between countries and continents on timescales of 2-5 years. I hate coming to a new place, knowing that soon I will leave it behind like I just left behind my last place of residence. Again, you have to figure out how the garbage disposal works,  the transportation, the taxes, the insurances, where to shop and most of all who you can trust and how to find friends. But this, I noticed, is a taboo thing to admit. You have to pretend to be excited about this, like you did during your job interview, and some people probably are.

I realized yesterday that there is one socially accepted way in which scientists can openly grieve about having to move around. And this is complaining bitterly about some food item that they miss. It is a taboo to complain about people you miss though; this would be insulting to your new colleagues and remind them of their own related pain. Similarly, you should not admit that you miss your old flat, your old lifestyle, the town where you lived.

But I cannot count how many times I have heard longing, emotional descriptions about the wonderful Mexican food in the Southern states of the US; the salsas, enchilladas, peppers; the Indian food in the UK; the Chilean avocados; the German bread.

What we really miss are the friends that we lost, our favourite cafes and squares and parks, the skyline of our old city, but this we cannot admit.

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One Response to The allowed and forbidden forms of nostalgia

  1. An interesting observation -I suppose the rules about nostalgia do also vary from community to community- society to society. Linking to your other post, I think as a woman, one of the things that draws me away from science is such feeble rules and regulations about how one should feel and express oneself. Thank you for sharing.

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