Sunday, June 13, 2010

kickball and culture

1 month, 5 days at site...

We just finished playing kickball with the neighborhood kids, and a few of Narcisse's fam, who live 3k from town. Bill and his friend Vongy were here. Bill lives about 30k away in a town called Alakimisy (Thursday). It really helped having an extra person around to show the kids how to play right. Vongy translated the finer points. They got it after a few non-rotations just as the kicking team, with the Vazaha playing the field. I really think they had fun. I know I did. I'm a bit hoarse from directing traffic and keeping everyone involved. We called the game a tie, just to keep everyone in a friendly mood. Polly and I taught them to say "good game" and high five everyone after playing. Sportsmanship.

The girls didn't play? I didn't want to step on cultural toes by pushing too hard for the ladies to join in. I asked Vongy after the game if it was OK for the girls to play sports with the boys, and he said it was. They were just shy and scared, that's all. I'll ask them again next week. One girl, seems interested, and lives nearby. She and her brother get cans and bottles from us. She might be the ice-breaker that crosses the gender divide.

I'm a bit confused about the culture in 2 ways today.

1. What's with the lingering?

There is this kid/guy who just drops by. I think he wants to be friends. He says his "problem is speaking English." Great! Mine is speaking Malagasy/Betsileo. We're dead in the water, friend. The first time I met him, it was almost dark, and he was waiting for me on our veranda, upstairs. He's showed up here like 3 times now, uninvited. I know he is waiting for me/us to invite him in, but it's not going to happen.

I invited him to play kickball at 2:30 today, and he came over an hour early. After the game today, he walked back here with us, and came in the gate. I said, "OK, Bill and Vongy are going home now, so we're not going to watch the soccer game (in town) today, so good-bye". (I had asked about who was playing in today's soccer match earlier in the day.) Polly, Bill, Vongy and I then went inside. When they were heading out, around 10 minutes later, the guy was still outside. What does this mean? I am confused. In no way did I imply that I was coming back out. I said "Veloma"(good-bye), and shook his hand good-bye. I did not look back.

It's not good practice to let people into your house unless you trust them. We've let the carpenter building our Xanadu in a couple of times, and the lady who has helped us clean and does our laundry. She and our landlord are cousins. Narcisse and his family are always welcome, and our teacher is fine too. We have some stuff in here that we don't want the whole town talking about, like electronics. Everyone who comes in comments on our bikes too. Our food is also different, as most of it is purchased and packaged, other than the produce, meat and rice. This makes us look rich. Walking in here to a Malagasy must seem like walking into candyland.

2. Do the Malagasy work harder when we're around?

This question has perplexed us since we lived with our host family during training. It always seemed they were working extra-hard, or running the saw when we were home, regardless of time of day. I thought the Malagasy took 12-2 off every day? Nope, not the guys working all of the equipment around our place. We could never study or catch a lunchtime nap there. Polly said that when they saw her approaching, they looked very busy. Before they saw her, they were just standing around. It really was incessant. The family we lived with was wonderful. The environment was not, however.

Now, here in Ambohimahasoa, it seems to be the case too. The builder has worked every day for almost a month now. I asked him if he likes Jesus, because he works on Sundays too. He's very cool, and a good sport with us, all the time. But, it's another incessant bang-fest. Today they were making the ground solid by hitting it with big flat boards. It sounded like the gods of war beating their drums. When we went to Narcisses the other day, we got back early, during lunch, when carpenter and crew (children, family) are at home eating. We locked up the place, so we could exist, and possibly nap (with earplugs?) in peace, without the usual afternoon parade of visitors. No one came back to work. The next day, the carpenter asked us when we got back from Narcisse's. Are they trying to show a good work-ethic? Are they afraid that if we're here they have to be working, or we'll tell the landlord? I personally promise we wont tell anyone if it's too quiet. (Never look a gift-horse in the mouth!) I have no idea what is going on.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting! I love reading/hearing about your experiences so far.