by Max Barry

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by The Free City of Nova Universo. . 9 reads.

Cultural Atlas - Free City of Nova Universo

Nova Universan Culture

Core Concepts



Family is considered to be the building block of Nova Universan society.
Household Structure
Nova Universan households are formed of nuclear families, parents and children living in their own home. Children are expected to live in their parents' home until they are financially stable or ready to form their own families. This cultural trait is a manifestation of family closeness, which is reinforced by economic necessity as youth unemployment and a housing deficit pervades the city.
Grandparents usually live in their own homes and receive regular visits from family and friends. It is common for a widowed or separated grandparent to live with the family of one of their children. Also, grandparents needing full-time care are usually taken in by their children.
Gender Roles
Male and female parents equally share the burden of childcare, housework and earning money for the family. It is rare for women to stay home doing childcare and housework; this is common for religious families. In decision-making, it is common for a couple to consult with their in-laws; the resulting furore might either help them find a solution or lead to heated arguments.
Relationships and Marriage
Nova Universan youth may start dating early in life, but these relationships tend to be not serious. Teenagers tend to meet at school and form cliques, a pattern which can extend up to working age. People usually socialise and date in bars, cafes, malls and parks. As people get older, their interest in prospective partners could become more serious.
Once someone finds their long-term partner, it is common for them to live together. Cohabiting is accepted, with society viewing the couple as de facto married. If they decide to seal the deal, it is usually via a civil wedding. The average age of first marriage is 29.55 years old. Divorce is rare but accepted, with the present low divorce rate expected to climb higher as the population develops.

Naming rules in the City varies by ethnicity and context.
The City government uses this naming order: [personal name(s)] [mother's paternal family name] [father's paternal family name]. For example, Wihann Thinus MARAIS CRONIER.
Yoruba, Mende, Spanish, Portuguese, Afrikaans
Arabic, Amazigh people use this naming order [personal name(s)] [father's name] [grandfather's name] [family name]. For example, Fauzhia bint-Omar ibn-Farrukh al-RASHID.
Javanese, Betawi
Oujiang, Chaozhou
Malayali, Marathi

Dates of Significance

Greet people when entering or leaving a room or a lift, or before talking to a stranger.
Do not point at a person or object with the index finger, unless you are angry at them.
Be respectful and mindful of the elderly; helping them is much appreciated.
When talking to strangers, use 'Uncle', 'Aunty', 'Mister' or 'Miss' to refer to them.
Tipping is not customary; it is done as an appreciation for exceptional service.
Invitations are accepted with the assumption that the host pays for everyone.
Receive items with both hands held out as a cup; give things by handing them over.
Punctuality in business is required; however, in social situations, being late is expected.
People prefer entertaining friends in bars, cafes or parks, as houses here are cramped.
When visiting, bringing gifts is not as important as enjoying each others' company.
If you decide to bring something, make sure it can be easily shared by everyone.
You are expected to remove your shoes at the hall; the homeowner will lend you slippers.
Be careful with what you compliment as the homeowner might feel compelled to gift it to you.
It is expected for guests to stay at one's home late into the night drinking, chatting...
Hosts may talk about having 'one last drink' as a sign that they are ready for you to leave.
Before leaving, ask permission from the host, and make sure to say a proper goodbye.
Depending on the cuisine, you may be eating using your hands, chopsticks or cutlery.
Everyone must wait for all food and every person to be at the table before eating.
Guests are usually served first, followed by the elderly, children, women and men.
Leaving food on the plate is seen as an insult towards the cook and the host.
Do not stretch your arms, rest your elbow on the table or hide your hands below it.
Do not leave the table before everyone is finished with the meal.
Paying for a meal is an honour; expect heated 'fighting' between everyone at the table.
After eating, people usually stay at the table to share stories and anecdotes.
Gifts are usually opened in the presence of the giver; one is expected to thank the giver.
Presents are wrapped nicely; you must open it with care to show appreciation.
City residents are thoughtful gifters; they give sentimental, thoughtful and practical presents.
Some superstitious people will 'pay' you a token amount of money for certain unlucky gifts.
Giving someone flowers, a clock, a handkerchief, a lighter, a knife or a pair of scissors is an insult.

Do's and Don'ts
Engage in conversations. Welcome topics include culture, nature and sports, especially football and basketball.
Be warm and open. Accept invitations, show affection, join in social activities. Fun is a shared experience here.
Have a light heart. Humour is a cornerstone of City socialisation. Its sense of humour is somewhat sharp.
Show compassion towards others. Nova Universans appreciate the consideration and friendships it engenders.
Ask permission before taking a picture or video. Some people are protective of their privacy.
Do not boast about your wealth, position or class. Nova Universans do not care about these.
Refrain from talking about religion, politics, sexuality or health. People view these as sensitive topics.
Avoid criticising people's looks, abilities or attributes. This may be seen as an attack towards the addressed.
Do not be sarcastic or mocking. Irony and wit is likely to be misunderstood. Others may interpret this as an affront.

Communication style: Nova Universans are direct, emotive and expressive communicators. They are not afraid to show emotion and speak their thoughts and feelings. However, they also talk with tact and consideration in contentious and unfamiliar situations.
Indirect communication: Despite their expressive manner of communication, Nova Universans seek to avoid conflict. Therefore, they will not be too direct in their reactions. They would also read one's expressiveness and body language in addition to the conversation's content.
Formality: People are obliged to use titles such as 'Senhor', 'Senhora', 'Mister' or 'Miss' when conversing with elders or strangers. Those of Asian, African and Indigenous origins can also be addressed as 'Uncle', 'Aunty', 'Brother' or 'Sister'. When doubting, use 'Ma'amsir'.
Diminutives: Diminutives are used to express familiarity and affection towards the addressed, whether living or not. Most words can be transformed into diminutives by adding -inhe or -kie to them. Do not use this for elders, people in authority or strangers.
Humour: Nova Universans love sharing jokes. These can run the gamut from witticisms, cynicisms and observations to teasing, banter and practical jokes. However, be careful as not to embarrass the people around you while joking around.
Physical contact: Nova Universans tend to be tactile socialisers and are very affectionate. It is common to see people kissing, hugging, back-slapping, rough-housing and hand-holding. It is common for friends of all sexes to walk arm-in-arm. Lovers usually walk while hugging.
Personal space: When conversing, Nova Universans usually stand closely to each other. If they are interested the conversation, they might even come closer. However, people will understand if you keep your distance from them.
Gestures: Nova Universans are verbose in their gestures. They use gestures to demonstrate meanings which can't be conveyed by words alone. As one in ten people in the City are hard of hearing, knowing signs and gestures is needed for living in the nation.
Hands: People usually point with their thumbs or pinkies. When beckoning, do not use your index finger; this manner is only used to challenge people to a fight. People nonverbally say 'yes' by bending their fists; shaking this means 'no'.
Eye contact: Direct eye contact in conversation is expected, especially in serious conversations. Avoiding such is seen as dishonesty and disrespect. It is appropriate to break eye contact as it can make people uncomfortable. Staring in public is rude and insulting.

Other considerations
Nova Universans care for their animals, to the extent that the whole city looks like a giant animal shelter. People living in the city form volunteer groups to feed, care and house strays. Do not scare, shoo, spit or kick animals; this is an crime. Dogs and cats roam the streets all the time.
Public intoxication is inappropriate. Although using intoxicants such as alcohol and narcotics are accepted in homes and licenced shops, doing so in public spaces like parks or transport is a crime. If you need to come down, there are clinics with facilities for dealing with these effects.
People take environmentalism and cleanliness seriously here. Be careful of what and where you throw trash. Every hundred metres or so, there are recycling bins. Use blue for metals, green for food waste, yellow for paper and red for plastic. Items must be took apart before disposing.
Although Nova Universans are usually irreligious, they might still follow superstitions as force of habit. Don't assume that someone is with a certain belief due to the charms they use or practices they do. Religious people in the City are not superstitious, eschewing spells and charms.
Nudity and body exposure is accepted. People here dress lightly and informally due to the humid and hot weather. You will see people walking around in tank tops, shorts and sandals everywhere. Some relax in the parks or trek in forests in the nude. Nudity is not viewed as sexual.
Streets are busy all the time. You can see children playing at the road's edges near the pavement, bicycles and trucks drive in the middle and laundry drying on clotheslines from above. Everyone knows to step out of the street for emergency services such as fire trucks and ambulances.
Rules and order are taken seriously. Skipping queues is not acceptable. Nova Universo acknowledges the complicated rules of public order, and everyone is obliging to explain when one is in doubt of what to do. Bribing one's way out of an offence is a crime in itself.
Conversations can be quite forward. People you've just met can ask you about your family, income,etc... Although these questions seem probing, these people are only showing interest towards you. You can ask them to stop asking these if you feel uneasy with these.
Gossip is the national pastime. Everyone loves to talk about everything with everybody. Sometimes, state secrets become public knowledge due to one's drive to share juicy information. If you can manage its pitfalls, gossip is a very good way to socialise and learn more about the City.
Corporal punishment in any form dealt to anyone is illegal. It is not unheard of recently-arrived immigrants getting jailed due to physical assault against their children or partners. Recent social education programs are being launched to reduce such incidences in children and women.

Business culture
Nova Universans are punctual in their business affairs. If one will be late, they must inform the meeting.
Meetings start by everyone introducing themselves. Expect small talk as business partners prefer to learn more about each other.
Agendas are generally followed. However, it is expected for other points to be raised, which are addressed after the agenda is finished.
Meetings are usually conducted as group discussions aiming to produce a single vision from different ideas and expectations.
Negotiations can take a long time as everyone has to be heard out and everything should be agreed to.
People usually talk directly and calmly during a meeting. Being cryptic or emotional is seen as manipulation and untrustworthiness.
Agreements are systematically discussed. This is done to ensure understanding between all sides.
Nova Universans have a careful and considerate business approach. They gently forward ideas which they have spent much thought over.
Nova Universans tend to be thorough. They will pore over the details in contracts. They expect written documentation.
Completing a meeting to a satisfactory standard is more important that ending on time.
In business contexts, Nova Universans are relationship-oriented. Emphasis is placed on forming stable relationships between enterprises, as it ensures their mutual economic wellbeing. Within enterprises, leaders seek consensus and support from everyone; in turn, everyone contributes their ideas and efforts for the business' improvement.
Businesspeople pursue relationships with each other for security and reassurance. To this point, honesty and openness is appreciated in these kinds of relations. It is common for business leaders to invite each other to social ocassions, such as formal dinners, theatre shows and high parties.
Analyse the enterprise's corporate structure. Foreign-owned businesses are usually hierarchical, with power concentrated in a manager; this hierarchy is slowly eroded by a trend of consensus-building. Locally-formed business are cooperative, with everyone having a say in its operations.
Working hours are longer than the norm in the developed world. Business open around seven in the morning and close about five in the afternoon. However, most employees are only at work for four days a week. International businesses have shorter hours and longer days.
Office conflicts are usually solved privately, as not to disturb the company and to keep its details only within the people concerned.
Nova Universan enterprises are a bit more tolerant of flexibility and imprecision compared to those in other nations.
Business owners prefer a durable long-term business approach that can accept considerable risks over short-term high-profit schemes.
Nepotism is frowned upon in business. Most enterprises have rules against employing children, siblings, cousins and niblings of present workers.
Office conversations between a superior and a junior are indirect; do not expect a 'yes' or 'no' answer, one must read between the lines.
Men's business dress is a suit in dark grey or dark blue, worn over a white or pale blue dress shirt and a muted colour necktie. This is paired with black brogues or oxfords. The darker the tie, the higher up the corporate ladder its wearer is.
Women's business dress is a suit in dark grey, dark blue or dark brown, worn over a white, light blue or light purple dress shirt and a muted colour lavalliere or jabot. This is paired with neutral-coloured stockings and black pumps or flats. There is a preference for slacks over skirts.
Generally, business clothing should not be tight-fitting, sleeveless or black. One can wear jewellery, but this must not draw attention. Umbrellas used with business clothing must also follow the same colour scheme.