One Man's Weird...

Mark has left his homeland to go and live with his parents in Africa. After a week of solitude he meets his neighbour's boy, Sony, and the two soon become friends. After a visit to Sony's house a few days previously, the two boys are now together in Mark's house.

"Is there something wrong? You don't seem very happy."

"I'm just trying to understand what you people eat. Dad says you're a lot richer than we are, and you're certainly a lot bigger. But with plates this size..."

"Well, what size are your plates then?"

"You remember the other day when you were at our house and Mam brought out those peanuts and dates..."

"Yes. Your mother served them on that big tray thing."

"I'm not sure what you mean by tray? Those are our plates. She always serves dinner on them."

"But those things are huge. How much do you eat every day?"

"Well, one of those trays is enough for our whole family. But these small plates, they're scarcely enough to feed one person."

"But they are just for one person."

"You mean, you don't eat together?"

"Well, sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. That depends on how busy Dad is. Usually, it just Mam and me."

"And no one else comes to eat with you?"

"No, why should they? Everyone eats in his own home."

"You white people certainly have some strange ways of doing things. In Africa, no one eats on his own. A meal is the one time of day when we can relax and be with other people. That's why it's so special."

"Well, if you want to see something special, then look at these. My dad made these himself. It was one of the first things he ever made. There's not many people around who use home-made knives and forks."

"I... What..."

"What are you staring at me like that for? You do know what knives and forks are don't you? Look, this is a fork. It's really simple to use. You stick it into a piece of meat and then cut it with your knife. Then you use the fork to put it into your mouth."

"You don't mean to say, you put that thing in your mouth. That's disgusting."

"What's so disgusting about it?"

"Well, you never know who else has already had it in his mouth. We use our fingers to do the same thing. And I know nobody has ever had my fingers in his mouth."

"Well, of course we wash before and after every meal."

"And we wash our hands, too. Every time. But I still wouldn't want to put one of these things into my mouth. It weird."


How true your story is. One man's meat is another man's poison.

I must confess to licking my plate occasionally!

Most thought provoking post.

6 December 2009 at 08:04  

nice writing. The first time I was in Taiwan I invited a young lady for dinner I could not use chop sticks and she could not figure out how to use a knfe and fork. How weird I thought.

6 December 2009 at 14:56  

this reminds me of my years in Malawi, its so easy to take our way of doing things for granted and forget that other people do things differently...

6 December 2009 at 16:35  

it's interesting to think and learn about not just the differences in the way we DO things, but also in the way we SEE things. It really is all about perspective isn't it?

6 December 2009 at 18:40  

How funny, weird IS relative.

6 December 2009 at 18:44  

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