Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Cultural Notes

  1. When getting to know a person here a common question is “do you have parents?” I think I’m correct to infer that this is directly related to the huge two-fold impact that the genocide and HIV/AIDS has had on Rwanda.
  2. When you are served drinks anywhere, the waiter/waitress will always open the bottle while you are present. This is to prevent poisonings which are surprisingly common here. The rule is that you must be able to see the bottle being opened in front of you. If it isn’t, it is perfectly acceptable to send the bottle back and ask for another one. But its never happened to me.
  3. Honestly, Rwandans love guilt trips. It’s not meant to be taken personally though. If you don’t visit someone promptly you will never hear the end of it. In fact one of the most common phrases that I’ve heard is, “warabuze!” (literally, you’ve been missing). Now this person has no intention of making you feel bad and probably had no intention of visiting you but regardless it will kinda make you a little defensive. So what I do is try to beat them to it and tell them “warabuze!” before they can. (mwah-ha-ha)
  4. When people call you, they (the callers) have to greet you first!! Not the normal American interaction where the receiver of the call says “hello?” before the caller says anything. So what ends up happening to me every single time I call someone is there is an awkward silence for the first moment while I’m waiting for the person to say something like “hello?”. And when others call me, I still answer “hello?” impulsively, which I say at the same time they say “hello”. This is an awkward way to start every phone conversation.

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