Thursday, July 09, 2009

I'm just a travelin' Finn.

Judging by your lovely comments. Which are lovely. Oh so lovely. By the way. And I love them. Did I mention I think they're lovely. (Now you pretend like there is no period after the the word comments, because I shouldn't leave a clause hanging like that, unless it's the Finnish Santa, and there is just no stopping his drunken antics, so I'll just [Can you believe just is the word I have used most on this here blog?] continue as if there were a comma instead.) many of you have realized there is no point to this blog.

([I do love a good ole syntactical mess. I do.])

And you're right.

As you can see from the sidebar and from the rather large giraffe photo in the banner, there is a pretense of me writing as an expatriate living in South Africa. In theory, that is true. I am an expatriate, and right now I am in fact living in South Africa.

However, I seem to be writing far more about myself, as a person. Just as a person (an eccentric, borderline alcoholic person, but a person nonetheless). Not as a Finn or a European in South Africa, or  Africa. Because, I have just as many ups and downs in Scandinavia, as I do in Zambia. Everywhere, there are people and cultures that either throw you for a loop or make you feel like that is where you belong. For ever. There are excellent things, good things, bad things and very bad things everywhere, and I feel fine.

Will she break into song now? Who the hell knows? She doesn't, that's for sure.

No I won't (or at least you won't be able to hear my heart-rending gut-wrenching rendition of God save the Queen by Sex Pistols, which I sometimes like to sing. Loudly. By myself. In the car. While I'm riding a bike [don't own one at the moment though]. Or if I need to convince people of my decreased mental capacity).

But, sometimes there are differences that will crack you up like nothing else. So in the vein of the pretense of me being one of them expats, here are some expat observations.

There are places in this world where:
  • Sanitary napkins come with instructions and no one is familiar with the word or the concept of a tampon.
  • The correct answer to an uninvited "God will provide you children" is not "Which one?" That just freaks people out. Even if your intention is to be funny.
  • Saying that you only see your parents once a year can make someone erupt in the traditional mourning sounds that sound a tad like bad yodeling.
  • When you are asked whether you want coffee or tea, the tea-part is silent. And the only answer you are allowed to give is a "Only if you are making something for yourself, yes." If you neglect to answer, all of the above is implied.
  • A cashier refusing to make eye contact or acknowledge you in any way is considered a sign of normalcy.
  • A 'Foreplay Lounge' is not intended for actual foreplay.
  • You can be smacked on the feet with a cane by an angry old guy, because your skirt is too short, and no one but you bats an eye.
  • You are encouraged to walk on sharp, pointy stones barefoot to 'improve your constitution'.
  • Unmanicured nails are frowned upon. And don't even mention that you've never ever shaved your legs. 
  • Kissing on the mouth is the way to congratulate someone. 
  • You can be called 'Little Fatty' by a sweet old lady who is 1/3 of your size. 
  • A waiter can look you up and down, and say "choose something else, you won't like that."
  • A "train" can actually mean just one cart.
  • A pothole can easily be the size of a medium size swimming pool. 
  • Loudly shouting "Obama!" will get you cheaper prices.
  • You might get kicked or at least yelled at if you don't understand or perform the hand signs related to riding your bike on the bike lane.
  • You being surprised or freaked out at someone having a little scull made out of sugar with your name on its forehead on a little homemade altar is considered bad form. 

An expat-shot of downtown Lusaka, Zambia.

Can you guess where these observations took place? I'm not even sure anymore. 

31 comments:

Judearoo said...

HAHA! Randomly hilarious as always. I can identify with the 'Little Fatty' bit; my 92 year old grandma has a habit of shouting "Youre getting grand and fat Judeen" at me in public places. This is a compliment. Irish grannies are like that. :D

Optimistic Pessimist said...

when people tell me god will heal my broken heart...i am am going to ask which one. THANK YOU!

Since i've moved to the sticks a lot of what is on your list would apply to my backwoods neighborhood!

Josefine said...

The coffee one surely must be Swedish, those phrases (although spoken in Swedish) seem as present in my life as snow in winter and descriptive words that lack English counterparts...

Anonymous said...

You seem to be an expert in wine! Any thoughts on a great bottle for a South African bride? I'm attending a wine shower and it would be grand to be "in the know..."

InGodvTrust said...

u r grt writer
:)
loved reading ur posts

Polly said...

As an expat I can relate. The longer you live abroad the more philosophical your attitude to other people gets... but a little scull made of sugar with your name on it?? That would just freak me out!!! Did this really happen? How do you sleep at night knowing the scull is out there... :-)

Great stuff. I've been away for too long. Need to catch up.

Anonymous said...

Extranjera, I either want to break into that old verse that repeatedly says We love you ... oh yes we do, we love you .... and we'll be true. We love you .... we do, oh .... we love you." :)

Confessions of a DVR Addict said...

I may be wrong, but the manicure and the shaved legs.. is that the U.S? LOL..

Great blog, as always.

julochka said...

several things...

1. was it which god or which child will be provided by god?

2. where is the foreplay lounge? i wanna see that.

3. i know the cashiers of which you speak. i see them every day.

4. i think it's perfectly acceptable to see one's parents only once a year. or less.

5. they might also flick you on your all too bare legs with their little prayer beads. but again, no one bats an eye.

Guttermouth said...

I've been contemplating working internationally for awhile now. I think you've just sealed the deal!

Amazing. Fun entry, thanks for this!

B said...

I wasn't aware that blogs should have a point, I like the randomness, even if I tease you about it!
OK! The waiter one HAS hapenned in Spain, hasn't it? They totally do that!
Just thinking how Spain is such a foreign place for me now. Oh, no, identity crisis, AGAIN!
I think it's perfectly aceptable, even desirable, to see one's parents just once a year (not sure if my Mum has started translating comments too, I'll guess we'll find out now)

Chrys said...

I'm now nostalgic for a coffee and chat get together....

Kaotic said...

Which one?....love that line. :D

God providing children brought back a memory from the Age of Innocence.A couple of friends were very seriously discussing family planning of all things,when an angelic but puzzled listener, piped up with ....but what can we do about it, God gives...

Amen!

Vancouver's Enviro Girl said...

I too am interested in the foreplay lounge. And that waiter story is too funny. And WTF is with the skull?

armyblond said...

I JUST have 3 letters for ya ...

WTF?

Ashley, the writer said...

If blogs are supposed to have a point, then mine is even more pointless than yours. Just started following you (doesn't that sound extremely creepy?) yesterday, but have already read through many of your posts. Very funny. Entertaining. Watch out for what sounds like shrunken heads ;)

Cyndy said...

YOU are the character we are interested in--the rest is scenery. When do you think you will be making a U.S. tour? Could I convince you to visit Cowtownburgsville?

rxBambi said...

so what does one do in a foreplay lounge if not foreplay??

wv: real word. wtf?

CMG said...

The best comedies are always about nothing!

Anonymous said...

Hi, back again. Was the one who posed the verse -
you .... oh yes we doo.
Must confess :) also love the comments equally,
oh oh is that double-loyalty or just come with the territory. Hmmm, the foreplay lounge,
a good massage would sure suffice!!
LOL
Mellow Roc!

kristine said...

Love it. Might have to do a list like this of my own...the skull presumably is Mexico, right?

I can so related to the fatty comment. I had a cleaning lady in Bolivia who asked me how old I was. I said 28. She said "OH! I thought you were MUCH older. But thats only because you are so fat." - I tried to tell her two insults dont cancel out, but she didnt get it. Also, shop ladies in Indonesia used to look me (and to be fair, ANY non-Asian person) up and down and just shake their heads: "no sorry, we havent got anything for you. You're too fat."

sigh.

po said...

Hehe I loved this. Talk about keeping an open mind and embracing tolerance :)

Not So Glamorous Housewife said...

We have an asian lady down the street that does alterations. She always makes a point of telling brides to loose weight because they will be too fat for their dresses. We always get the giggles when a forlorn girl leaves the shop. I know it's wrong but I just can't help myself. Dark side I guess.

Andi Marie said...

Amazing your words are beautiful and impossible not to embrace them.

Courtney said...

Your blog is fabulous! It's kinda how I envision mine once I move over to Hungary. I love the little idiosyncrasies that make moving new places so interesting - you get new customs, new taboos, and new people to write stories about!

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Check mine out at:

www.diaryofamainiac.blogspot.com

monica said...

Well, all has been said by people above and i have nothing new to add.
As always it's a pleasure to read your whacky posts.
Looking forward to more of crazzy stuff:P

Peyotitlan said...

The sugar skull and being called (gordita) little fatty has got to be back in beautiful Mexico...

Extranjera said...

Thank you all of you guys for such lovely comments and dudes, get guessing!! Some of you have been right regarding some of the points, but... ;o)

Just popped in quickly to recommend a wine as well:
You cannot go wrong with Kanonkop. My Favorite is their Cab Sauv 2004 (Platter's wine of the year 2009). I tasted it at the Kanonkop Vineyards and it was amazing and it's totally worth it. Other all time fave is Meerlust 2004 Pinot Noir, but as far as vineyards go I love Delheim and Durbanville Hills.

MyVintageCameras said...

So we continue to contaminate the continent with our horrid african-american hair care products....poor Zambian hair, I can hear it crying from the chemicals all the way to Denver......

Gracey said...

I enjoyed this post very much.