Phone Saida at Saros Research in London and set up ethnographic interviews with 10 people in London.
It sounds strange, I’m sure. Who wants to play anthropologist on their holidays?
Well, if the object is to penetrate the barrier that stands between every tourist and country/culture, ethnographic interviews are really very usful.
Russell Davies and I (with the help of people attending Russell’s Account Planning School of the Web) were recently wrestling with the idea of cruise ships, those suburbs of the sea, and it occured to me that almost all touristic experience has the quality of cruise ship containment. We may get off the ship from time to time, but the closest we are getting to the host country is a shop filled with touristic chakahs that play out stereotypes and help extinquish the possibility of cross culture contact.
I do these interviews for a living. But I am suggesting that you do them for the sheer fun of it. On a recent trip, I found Londoners fascinating on several topics, including how dinner parties are changing in London, the difference between lager andstout, what is the deal with Manchester United, anyway, when and how to use one’s best "telephone voice," gardening the Tony Blair way, and how English audiences received The Da Vinci Code (in some cases, with audible and enthusiastic scorn, apparently).
You will have to pay these people about 100 pounds each to sit for the interview. But it’s bargain, I’m telling you. Interesting, lovely, charming, interesting people, will let you into their homes and the lives.
This is not sight seeing. You want to the British Museum, Big Ben, the Thames, except from the window of your taxi as you race from interview to interview. But it is the kind of contact that we treasure when it happens accidentally.
Why wait for it to happen accidentally?