Saturday, May 16, 2009

Cultural Notes #3

1. I mentioned shaking hands in a previous cultural note. But furthermore, if someone’s hand is dirty they put out their arm out and you are expected to grasp their arm as you would their hand.
2. Cooking indoors is extremely rare. My kitchen is outside as is everyone else’s. Most the time there is a small closet sized structure outside the house where the cooking is done.
3. Also, people cook with charcoal-like wood chunks in a small stove-like grill.
4. Queues do not exist here. It’s not that people “cut” in line there is just no line to begin with.
(How I learned: I went to the bank one day with customers sitting in the chairs with no obvious order. So I figured I would sit next to this nice old man and wait for him to go before I would go up. After about 3 people were served he became more anxious. Every time a customer would get up to leave he would start to stand, only to find that he wasn’t as fast as someone else. So he would sit back down and repeat. This happened about 5 times. He would get a little further each time. One time he even was in a full standing position and ready to pounce… but he was still beat. A healthy young contender he faced with no sign of remorse. The old man was finally served and I followed. You have to have cat-like reflexes to get served though. Unless you’re “opponent” is a nice hesitant old man (such as my contender). He never showed any sign of frustration though. Neither has anyone else. Only my abazungu colleagues and me.)

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