Friday, February 11, 2005

Things I thought I'd urgently need but that have never come out of their packages or had their tags removed

- A travel/camping mosquito net
- 1 Liter refill of SPF 30 sunblock
- Water purification drops
- Gravol
- Cypro antibiotic tablets, at 8 bucks pop
- Imodium
- 'Safari' shirt, complete with pit zips and lots of pockets and tabs and things
- Zip-off pants/shorts (Okay, i wore these once, but then i decided to NEVER WEAR THEM AGAIN.)
- 'Conservative' (a.k.a. 'shlumpy') skirts and tops, outfits 1-5 of 6
- Mini 'Canada' 2004 calendars, to give as gifts
- Travel cutlery
- Bottles 2 through 6 of insect repellent

And, using absolutely no smooth segway to new topics at all, three recent anecdotes:

Anecdote 1) Last week, my roommate Heather came running out of her classroom (she's a teacher), to find one of the school's support staff beating a puppy with a large stick. Heather yelled at him to stop, and asked him what the hell he was doing. His response: "I am trying to kill it." Why? "It might scare the children." (Pertinent points: no children yet, the schoolday hadn't started; it's a high school; it's a puppy.) Traumatized along with the puppy, Heather discovered the existence of the Ugandan SPCA, and within hours it had been checked by a doctor and had a cast put on its back leg, which had been broken in three places. It lived on our balcony for a day or so before going to a permanent home.

Follow up 1: Heather had the conversations of the support staff translated for her by some of the students. None of them could figure out why she would care, they couldn't beleive that she would touch something as disgusting as a dog, they couldn't beleive she would bring it into her apartment. (Ugandans don't keep pets at all; also apparently dogs were used to terrorize the locals at some point in colonial times.)

Follow up 2: A couple days later it was brought up in conversation that while it was deemed morally obligatory to rescue this dog, we feel no such obligation to do anything similar with the homeless, parentless children we walk past begging on the street every day. (See my post from last week about normalizing various other 'cultural differences' for more examples of this type of thinking. That myself and my peers can identify but not explain, by the way.

Anecdote 2: I finally received business cards today. The phone number on them was just a bunch of random digits, bearing no similarity to the country code, area code, phone number, or number of digits in the actual phone number. Nothing about this shocked me at all. I did, however, insist that simply scratching that out with a pen was not an acceptable option.

Anecdote 3: Honestly, when I first started writing this, I totally had three anecdotes in mind. But in the time it's taken me to write the first two (ten minutes or so?) I have completely forgotten what the third one is. (Mom, this is why I don't "really do something" with writing. Because if it's not on my mind RIGHT NOW it doesn't make it to paper. Or to computer screen.)

mmm okay, not so much an anecdote as an observation: When Ugandan men are trying to hit on you (hello those male co-workers aspiring to Canadian visas, and every taxi driver I've ever had), they start asking you about marriage: if you'd like to get married (in general) sometime soon, if you would marry a Ugandan, how much they themselves want to get married, and OH YEAH that they think I am very nice and oh yes again, what was my level of desire towards the institution of marriage?

Let's just all think about how using that approach would send most single Canadian women under the age of 35 (Am I being ageist? sorry. I myself am under 35 so find it hard to judge if this is ageist or realistic) SCREAMING and running in the opposite direction. Know your audience people. Know your audience.


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