Many people assume that remarkable, distinctive cultures — as opposed to bland ones like the American and Scandi-Germanic — aren’t aware of how they seem to outsiders. It dawned on me in the first years I lived in India that they not only loved how exotic they are, they wallowed in it, fostered it; their eccentricity is institutionalized in the culture.
The same self-awareness goes for the English. They know how quaint and quirky they can be, and nowhere do they proclaim that more than in their choice of names. The sound of ‘Benedict Cumberbatch’ reminds me of an expensive-but-worth-it five-alarm hangover brunch at a boutique hotel in London’s West End,