A few weeks ago I was in Vienna for a day, as part of a 38-hour haul from Greece to Denmark. And I had a great realisation.
When I’m in a new city I get enveloped by the aesthetic – the hair, the shoes, the subtle mannerisms, the turns of phrases – and find myself wanting to covet it, while feeling overwhelmingly lacklustre in my own “rustic” get-up.
It’s an evolutionary thing. When you find yourself standing out from the mob, you get a survivalist urge to “buy into” the dominant vibe.
It’s a travel thing. The smells, sights and accents all feel so evocative. You get swept up in the new.
Well. I almost did, there in Vienna. Then I got a grip of myself. Vienna’s a good place for this.
At first I did my usual. I looked at the prim men in their crisp striped shirts and dapper spectacles with their neat hands and expensive tan moccasins. And the women with their curt little plimsolls and small limbs and cardigans tied over little shoulders and the contained way they sip at their coffees and peck at their pastries. I got absorbed by the way the quirky girl who I stopped to ask for “the best café to sit in for a few hours” blinked tightly as she answered me, with her bright fuchsia lipstick. And her kooky Mary-Janes.