Friday, February 25, 2011

Define: Normal's just such a strange concept. For a while, I thought nothing about living in Africa was normal. And it wasn't. But now it seems normal. Things that I used to wonder or stare at I am now doing myself. Take for instance my experience at an ice cream 'shop' yesterday. I walked up to order and pay at the first counter. I stood there, waiting for him to finish counting his change and organizing bills. He knew I was there, but didn't really acknowledge me or say, "one minute, please." He just looked up, and kept organizing his bills. I started to order, and then realized that he wasn't going to take it until he finished the task he was working on. It didn't matter that I was a paying customer that he "should" have been serving. But that was okay, I just waited. It would be my turn when he decided it was. I've definitely learned that here, the customer isn't always the most important.

After paying, we got tokens to take to the next counter and again tell them what we wanted. This place was super busy and people were crowded all around. And I just crowded right next to them. I didn't even notice that there wasn't a line until the girl I was with mentioned it to me. I just pushed my way up and shoved my tokens at the guys getting the cones ready. It didn't matter who had been there longest, it only matters who pushes their tokens the closest to them. This is normal. I'm not even sure what I would do if I came across a line I had to wait in today. Lines are becoming foreign concepts to me!

All this said, what is 'normal' to me has changed dramatically in the last few months. So let me define my current 'normal' for you:

Normal is people coming up selling random things.
Normal is getting yelled at on the streets.
Normal is people answering their phones in the middle of something,
even the class that they're teaching.
Normal does not include waiting in a line.

Normal is traveling 45 minutes to get somewhere.
Normal is traveling by rickshaw and bus.
Normal is walking down a dusty road.
Normal does not include the word easy.
Normal is every native I meet wanting my phone number.
Normal is people offering to help.
Normal is eating fresh fruit, veggies, and bread.
Normal does not include silverware in public.
Normal is hearing the call to prayer- and sometimes not even noticing.
Normal is sitting on a bus next to a woman covered head to toe.
Normal is putting on a headscarf when I walk outside my door
Normal does not include shorts.
Normal is watching what everyone else does to understand how to do it.
Normal is speaking in a different language.
Normal has an ever-changing definition.
But mostly, Normal does not include the expected.

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