Before you send out that mass email, I urge you to stop.
So every now and then, dear reader, you come across one blog, or a group of them, and you write the blogger an email. I love your blog, you say! Now I have a question, you say. This is nice. It puffs up the old ego. In my case, it means yay, people think I’m an expert on Santiago (I mean, aside from the companies/publications that pay me to write about Santiago). Then I try (sometimes, kind of depends) to answer your question. It helps if you actually read the blog, such that questions like “where should I go to check out the local heavy metal bands” or some such are not good questions to ask me (this really happened). It would also help if you were specific in your questions. It is not enough to ask “who makes good sandwiches,” without me knowing what fillings you like, and whether or not you like to eat them with a fork and knife. “Where should I live” is another common question that I cannot answer because I do not know you. So help me out a little.
Speaking of help, it also might help maybe just a little bit, if every time you wrote a question, you did not do a mail merge asking me and five other bloggers the same question. The reason for this is that a) Santiago is a hanky (getting back to that in a minute) and b) I have a “from the mailbag” series on a public forum that is not this one, and when you ask something ridiculous, I sometimes repost it (without your name, of course). And then I get all these “ha! me, toos” from other folks. Now I don’t think you think I’m an expert, I think you are a crowdsourcer. You don’t want my info, you just want info in general. And maybe it’s not even because you’re traveling. Maybe you’re writing something (this has happened, too). Why else would you actually call one of my people on the phone to ask questions? Smells suspicious, I say. You should “come correct,” as the bros say, telling me what you’re working on, not asking questions about relocating when really, you’re up to something else.
And then there’s the hanky
Santiago es un pañuelo is how we say “Santiago is the size of a postage stamp.” It does not actually mean that in terms of area it is small (in fact, Greater Santiago covers 250 sq miles), but that alot of people know alot of other people. And similarly-positioned people know each other. Neighborhood, age, socio economic similarity, English-speaking bloggers, people who work in and around tourism, etc.
Which means when you write me an email, and you also write Emily and Peter and Rob, and Sara, and Colin, and Sally and some other people that I’m surely forgetting, with the same exact question, WE KNOW. I say I will answer questions on my about me page, and I do. But you know those FAQs? they are there for a reason. And they’re snarky. I think they’re funny. But you know what I don’t think is funny? treating me like I’m interchangeable with another gringo. Grrrrr.
It is not just English speaking gringos who may or may not work in something related to tourism that know people in common. I shall set the stage for you:
Parking area at Cerro Manquehue one Saturday morning. Several hikers at the ready, including S and LM. I have never met LM before, but she is a friend of S, who I know from since I moved to Chile and started biking around from a gigantic group of cyclists. On my first ever bike ride with her, she dragged me on a 140 km ride that extended into way after twilight, into pitch black. Good times.
We start walking up the hill (do this in a group please, there have been assaults on Manquehue) and we get to talking. Turns out LM’s sister’s birthday is that day, and she mentions her name. I say, hey! I think I know her (somewhat unusual name in Chile, not in Spanish). I belong to a Flickr group and I went to a photography conference that she also attended and we rode home together on the bus, I say. And LM said, yep, we talked about that, because I said you were going on the hike, and were a cyclist, and said your name and my sister said, “oh, I know her.”
Because it’s small. 7 million people and still small. Chances are not small that someone you know will know someone else you know. I don’t know why it is, it just is. So remember, no pretend personal emails that you send to everyone. You will get found out. Also, I would love it if you would flatter me by putting the word handkerchief, bandana or tissue in your next email to me. Then I’ll believe you’ve actually read the blog. I may have stolen this from a friend who, in his couch surfing profile instructs people to say “gefilte fish.” You can also say gefilte fish, but please don’t bring me any. Bleck.
Oh, and if you do write a note, and people do answer you, then you should say thank you. Your momma would like that. And so would the group of English speaking bloggers in Chile to whom you sent the mass email.
If it seems like this might just be a periodic rant of people not handling my information dispensing ego with kid gloves, you’re right.
Yes, the degrees of separation between people here in STGO is frightfully small.
also hanky… so you know I read your post
and I have no questions for you at the present time
But I would gladly answer your questions, especially for a jar of jam. Up for a marmalscapade? we should talk about it at Thanksgiving!
Long time reader, but first time emerging from only lurking. I found you through a piece you did for Matador Network while feeling quite Santiago-sick (I don’t believe that 6 months there entitles me to deem the emotion homesick, but it always feels that way) and had a miraculous revolution of “Hey! I read lots of blogs! I desperately miss Santiago! People write blogs about being gringos in Santiago! I must find all of them!!!” It really did feel the way all of the exclamation point implies. And yet my Google searches of various iterations of blog, Santiago, Chile, and gringo yielded disappointingly few results.
Anyway, this is my long winded way of asking if you keep a blogroll, or if you might do a post of other gringo bloggers in Santiago (I was inspired by your comment regarding “Emily and Peter and Rob, and Sara, and Colin, and Sally.” Who are these people?). And since, after all, you do not know me, I *will* help you out a little. I would be quite grateful for a list of gringo (where gringo does not necessarily imply American) bloggers who write about anything or everything related to living in Santiago or other parts of Chile, English or Spanish acceptable. I’m not picky. Just homesick.
Google bloggers in Chile and you’ll get several lists of different bloggers. Most of those people should get triggered if you click around. I don’t keep a blogroll. I tried to keep a feedly feed but I fell out of it. I must admit, I don’t read that many blogs, chile-based or other these days. Thanks for dropping by, Christine, and yes, you can feel nostalgic for a place you didn’t live for very long! At least I think you can!
There is a mathematical justification for the apparent “connectedness” of Santiago. It turns out that there is a theory that says that everybody is connected to everybody by at most 6 degrees. Which means that if you start tracing people from one place in the world following their connections, you will end up at the other side of the world somewhere between the first and fifth connection.
This is also the theory used by some intelligence gathering agencies, following three levels of indirection from any person might get you to millions of people very soon. Let me clarify with an example:
A knows B and C. B is friend with BA, BB and BC, and C is friend with CA & CB.
At one level of indirection (first connection), A only has access to 2 persons, but at 2 levels, A has access to 2 + 5 = 7 persons. Now, do this with more realistic numbers and you realize how quickly everybody is connected even though you might live in two different countries.
I will leave you the wikipedia entry that has more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation
Yep, Carlos, I know about the six degrees of separation. I’m also (they say) unusually social at times, what with the online presence and a few groups of people I know. S (who I talked about) is a major hub, she must easily know more people than anyone else I know in Santiago, and she remembers most of them
I bet if you and ran through who we know etc, we’d find we have people in common as well. As always, thanks for popping in, and hope the family is doing well!
Just in case there’s someone not-believing the story “I met Eileen – Eileen knows S – Eileen knows LF – I know S, and LF is my sister”, here’s more:
P was one of my classmates (then became a good friend) at college.
One day, we were chatting (oh, the old MSN Messenger), and P said “Hey, I knew this kid (CC, not living in Santiago then) D’you know him?”, then I answered: “Yep… that’s my cousin”.
Years later, on a hike, I met S.
…and one day, P realized (by Facebook) I knew S, then asked: “Hey!, Where did you girls meet each other?!”.
So, P knew S.
But S doesn’t know my sister (LF), and my cousin (CC) is not known by Eileen & S, and Eileen doesn’t know P.
cute. I’ll be looking forward to meeting all the aforementioned initial-bearers shortly!
Can I say “matzah ball” instead of gefilte fish? And a thank you in any language is always appreciated.
you may! and agreed. The lack of a thank you when one should be delivered is most annoying!