Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cultural Observations

Getting over the trauma of Sunday night has been difficult for everyone in Kampala, but each successive morning makes it slightly easier. As my time in Uganda winds down, I have spent more time with my Ugandan coworkers and other friends, and our jokes have begun to return.

Today, over a good-bye lunch of delivery pizza from Domino's Pizza (coincidence? I think not...), my office discussed some of our favorite cultural differences about one another. The lunch ended with all of us holding our sides in laughter. With all that we have gone through, I can't tell you how good it feels to laugh.

Ugandans, for example, think eating cheese pizza is weird. Putting toppings on is fine, but just cheese disturbs them.

They also think it's quite odd that for breakfast every morning, I put my banana inside my chapati (kind of like a potato-pancake). It's like a crepe with banana on it (I'm only missing nutella), but this baffles my Ugandan friends.

Ugandans also think that iced tea is near-blasphemous. I understand the rationale behind this one; with few refrigerators outside of Kampala, it's difficult to produce ice in a country that lies on the equator. But even here in the capital, where you can find ice, they think it's abnormal. I tried to explain my iced-coffee obsession; they looked at me like I had three heads.

They also can't comprehend that they are sitting in a room with a Jewish person. When I told them I am Jewish, Angelina, Caleb and Diana almost fell out of their chairs. They touched my skin to see if their hands would pass through. This isn't anti-semitism; I'm just probably the first of the Tribe that they have met. We constantly laugh about this one.

I poke fun at the Ugandan accents (for example, if Diana says "You wear a hat, you have a heart, you get hurt and you live in a hut," it sounds like "You wear a hut, you have a hut, you get hut and you live in a hut"), their powdered coffee, and too many other small things to count. We all have a good time.

These inside jokes are remarkable not for their incredible humor or their window into different cultures. But the fact that we were able to kid each other and laugh together meant that life was returning to normal.


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