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ExtraVirgin April 2010

People often behave differently abroad. Without the usual frames of reference, a certain independence gives rise to more exaggerated behaviour. This can go badly. Consider the reputation of Brits abroad, Germans in the Kruger Park, Americans in France, or South Africans in South London pubs on Friday nights.

Of course, a bad reputation can be as much to do with narrow minded hosts as brash guests, but nevertheless there is something about being somewhere other than home that opens doors. We act differently in different places, when we're out of our comfort zone.

Going anywhere abroad is a bit like going to Sun City; you get the feeling that what happens there doesn't really count in the real world. It's a sort of parallel universe where playing strip poker is as normal as eating toast. If someone asks you why you did it, you shrug and say: "That wasn't really me." And it wasn't you. It was Sun City you, a distant relative at best.

Because it's beginning to sound an awful lot like I was the one playing strip poker at Sun City (and it wasn't me, I swear, it was this one friend I have) lets move on. Perhaps the further away from home we go the more unusual our behaviour becomes. If so, I worry about this talk of building houses on Mars.

I can picture a society of people dressed in Speedos and medieval armour eating nothing but Smarties. A place where the national sport is curling and dogs walk around on their hind legs. A place where 3Talk's Noleen is president and everyone is either called Snap, Crackle or Pop. I imagine this place and it frightens me.

Not everyone and everything behaves worse elsewhere. In fact, many of us South Africans are doing more than quite well for themselves across the respective ponds. We know about the usual suspects - Charlize, Hugh Masekela and Mark Shuttleworth among them - but many of us still haven't been introduced to the phenomenon that is Die Antwoord, an Afrikaans hip-hop act that has the world. Prepare to meet your inner 'Zef' in the music section.

Elsewhere, we follow arctic swimmer Lewis Pugh - who has been cleared of allegations of being a shaved polar bear -
to a Himalayan lake, check out a new film starring local legend John Kani and figure out a way to decorate with local designs without making your lounge look like a guesthouse lobby. Our money man has some advice about hedges. Naturally.

And because we're nice we're offering our beloved readers Sex and the City 2 hampers worth over R2000 to celebrate the release of the sequel of the year. Click on the promotions section for more information.

Matthew Freemantle