I have a theory about many people in Western countries. From what I have seen around the world, I often think we live in a vapid culture. There are no raging street parties a la Brazil. There are is no vibrant market culture a la Guatemala. In Canada we can’t even convince our local government to sell more than pre-digested hot dogs rather than the interesting fare you find doled on the streets of most countries. This leaves people with mucho dinero, and precious little to spend it on. But fear not, Westerners have discovered the answer- we take part in what I like to call “non-hobbies”. Here are my favorites:
1) Foodie: You may like eating, and you may even like good food. But to become a foodie you must pretend that eating can actually become a hobby. This raises a difficult question for the foodie. Since we all require sustenance to survive and most have preferences about food, aren’t we all, technically foodies? Like many things in the west, the concept needs to be taken to the next level to qualify as a past-time. Eating out must become part of your persona. You need to spend excessive amounts of money on food. You follow all of the restaurant trends (well, the expensive restaurants anyway). And you must learn to identify the foreign foods by their foreign names (foie gras) rather than their english ones (duck fat) to make them more palatable and exotic. Sadly, people actually take this one very seriously.
2) Wine Pairing: Okay, I know this one is related to the above, but I think it does deserve its own category. This one- I’m sorry to offend those who partake in this hobby- I find pretty hilarious. Here, you must insist that the flavour of wine changes so profoundly when you eat that each plate requires a different wine pairing. This “hobby” really doesn’t require much. As you eat, you shove a different bite of food in your mouth and make appropriate remarks like “did you taste the spice in that beaujolais?”. Oh, before I forget, you need to spend lots of money to be a true wine pairing hobbyist.
3) The Yoga Lifestyle: Now, I personally find Yoga excruciatingly boring, and tedious. But, to be fair to the Yoga practitioners, this isn’t an easy activity and I’m sure it has benefits. After all, it’s been practiced for millenia in India. Yet, and correct me if I’m wrong, Yoga in that part of the world is a simple affair. I mean, the yogis don’t squeeze themselves in their Lulu stretchy pants and drink protein shakes. They don’t have different yoga mats that they backpack around as a fashion accessory or a rainbow selection of water-bottles. No, this is a western adaptation. This is the yoga lifestyle, a great irony that allows westerners to spend great sums of money on the most simple of pursuits.
4) Photography with Old Cameras: I’m really at a loss here to explain this one. In short, this involves purchasing old cameras. Pinholes, polaroid cameras, anything that was was used in the early stages of photography. Yes, you could just buy a digital camera for 50$. And yes, you could doctor your photos for free to achieve the same result as the old camera. But, unfortunately, this would not qualify you as an old-camera-hobbyest. It would also be cheap, and this would contradict the whole point of western non-hobbies.