Things No Longer Strange

by Nancy Seferian

My son is in the Peace Corps in Botswana, now in his third year. He recently sent us the following entitled "Things That at One Time Were Foreign But Now Seem Ordinary":

Reading gothic novels by obscure authors under a mosquito net by candlelight.

Having two way conversations with cattle and livestock when there is no one else to talk to.

Eating canned pilchards, tuna, corned beef and mackeral in Louisiana hot sauce, tomato sauce, jalapeno sauce and garlic cloves, and continuing to look for other ingredients in order to make something original.

Chasing the above delicacy with 6 Hansas. [I think that's beer.]

Being proposed to routinely by women of the ages ranging from 16-65.

Being asked for money when the person asking has money and giving it to him and he buys me a drink.

Puking in the back of a pick-up in the middle of the desert groggy from Dramamine on an empty stomach and thinking it doesn't get much better than this.

A lizard falls into the computer printer and you have to wait until it decides to come out and you're thinking it's time for a break.

Not speaking for 36 hours.

Holding a male friend's hand and walking together side by side.

Having people stare at you for long periods and not wondering what they are thinking.

Having regular sleeping hours during the week in the afternoon.

Finding a comfortable piece of shade and going to it regularly.

Taking place in conversations lasting for hours and only saying 10 words.

Not watching television for more than six months.

Not making a phone call for more than 3 months.

Letting flies and other insects sit on your skin for long periods without flinching or brushing them off annoyed.

Seeing a spider the size of your hand stroll across your covers while you're lying in bed and saying to it, "Look, you got a busy day tomorrow. Be sure and keep the fort clear of any pests."

Saving a rock set aside for the obnoxious and extremely punctual rooster that wakes you prematurely every morning.

Killing chickens.

Walking at night in pure darkness with minimal visibility and knowing exactly where I'm going.

Saying to a woman who offers to sell her baby for P2.50, "Ga ke nna madi," (I don't have money).

Sitting next to a mother breast feeding on a bus and having a conversation.

Saying, "I'm coming," when actually I'm leaving.

Being called "Mr." or "Sir" all the time.

Wearing a tie.

11 ways to say my name:

Sef
Sefy
Sefary
Sefarrrrrrrrrian
Sefarrrrreeaan
Seferrian
Neeek
Neeko
Neeecholaaas
Nikk
Mistah Sefarrrrrrian

Having people talk about you in front of you and not knowing exactly what they are sarying because they are speaking so fast.

Becoming a contortionist in the back of a small pickup crammed with 15 people and bags travelling at 120 kph and being able to sleep for hours.


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lic Sunday, May 11, 1997