guest blogger - Mimi!
I arrived to visit daughter, son-in-law, and mostly beautiful new grandbaby 2 weeks ago. I have to admit that I was somewhat nervous about this trip. Not that I'm afraid to visit places that are on other continents, but I wasn't quite sure what to expect where daughter lives. I have had a wonderful visit and sadly, today is my last day and I will be leaving at the stroke of midnight tonight. So, I thought I would share some of my observations while here.
First of all, the driving and the traffic. I had been warned ahead of time about this phenomenon. Most of you who know me know that I am the world's absolute worse passenger in a car. However, on the way home from the airport, we came to an intersection that had a red light. Our driver slowed down, looked both ways, honked his horn, and kept right on going. It seems that after dark, red lights are optional. Interesting law. Second, the amount of traffic/cars on the streets at one time. I sat by a man on the airplane over here that lives here. He warned me about the amount of traffic and cars and said that the philosophy is to use every bit of the concrete space as possible. If that means putting 5 cars where 3 are suppose to be, then so be it. No one seems to care. Because there is so much traffic and frequent traffic jams, you usually never travel faster than 20-30 mph and that is only for a short distance. On the ride home from the airport and since it was so late at night, our taxi hit several areas where he was able to drive 30-40 mph. Since most people in my hometown travel at 50-70 mph, the taxi did not seem to be travelling all that fast. I thought it interesting to hear son-in-law say that the taxi ride was making him very nervous because we were speeding through town.
The next thing I observed was shopping! You know I had to go there. Daughter took me to a market and on the way there she told me what a nice market this was. I didn't have my expectations high, but when we got there and were walking from the parking lot, down the street and to the shops that she needed to visit, I realized that I had taken daughter's words too literal. I'm thinking to myself, what is she thinking???? However, when you walk into the shops, you are totally transformed. They are very nice, very clean, and best of all, very CHEAP! There's nothing better in my way of thinking than a bargain. I would like to say that we went back to that same market about a week later and I'm thinking to myself, this is a nice market. My how our perceptions change. One of the funnest (is that a word?) shopping experiences was shopping for shoes! O.K., I know that none of you are surprised that I was shoe shopping. :) You know how when we shoe shop in our hometown, our salesperson goes to the back and finds our shoes in our size and brings the boxes out to us. Well, they don't do that here. The shoes are kept in the attic. Yes, I did say attic. And, there are usually 2 openings in the ceiling that reveals the attic. You tell your salesperson what shoe you like and your size. He literally yells up to a guy that stays in the attic and he THROWS down your shoes. If they don't fit or if you don't want them, the salesperson throws them back up. I found out that the "attic guy" is working his way up to being a salesperson. Now, I know most of you will find this hard to believe, but I tried on so many pairs of shoes that daughter and I learned the attic guy's name. Before I finished shopping, attic guy was throwing down shoes that I had not asked to try on but he thought I might like and as I would try them on, he would comment on how nice they looked or that the color was very nice, etc. I'd say he was already practicing being a salesperson. We also went to a market where you bargain for prices. Daughter has this down to a science. She speaks the language here which is a novelty to the residents. Daughter looks nothing like the people that are native to this area so when she opens her mouth and starts rattling off the language, the people are totally fascinated. Nevertheless, I got some good bargains on some nice things because of the art of bargaining. Too bad I don't have a bargaining market at home. Just an fyi, but a new mall has been built here and you step out of your taxi in an atmosphere of the native country and step into the mall which is like stepping into my native homeland. The prices are the same as stepping into my homeland too.
Some miscellaneous things that were unique to me are included in this paragraph. The apartment complex where daughter lives, has security guards. I use that term loosely. These guys walk around at night blowing whistles and banging sticks against the metal fencing. Evidently, they are scaring away the "no good doers" before they get close to them. Either they don't want the confrontation or they are scared of the bad guys. But, this happens all night long. I went from listening to airplanes come over my house to listening to security guards blow whistles and bang sticks. I've watched a Bollywood movie and actually liked it! I went with daughter to have her hair cut and highlighted. Each person has their own specific thing that they do at the beauty shop. She had about 8 people standing around her and doing things to her hair at once. It looked more like she was having an operation with a team of doctors standing around her than having her hair done. Speaking of that, everyone here has a specific occupation and they are the only ones that do that. For instance, there is a guy, 3 doors down, that is a press "walla". He stands outside all day, everyday, with a huge metal iron, hot coals, and a big counter. When you need something ironed, you take your clothes to the press walla and he irons it for about a penny per piece of clothing. Yes, that's correct, a penny. I have definitely decided that every country, every state, every town, every neighborhood, every house needs a press walla. There is also a guy who sits outside with his big sewing machine and does mending. There is a trash walla who collects the trash. You get the idea. There are animals everywhere and they just kind of roam freely. The pedestrians here do NOT have the right of way and WILL get hit if they don't get out of the way. However, the animals will sit in the middle of streets because they know that drivers would never dream of harming them. Oh the quality and value of human life.
I will say that this is a very male dominated society. Women are not respected and they are treated and talked to a lot different than men. It doesn't matter where the men and women are from, if they are native or foreign, the men are treated better than the women. Daughter has grown weary of this fact and has become spunky in some of her dealings with men here. She has become more vocal to them and as I mentioned before, when she starts speaking to them in their native tongue, it surprises the heck out of them! I want to say, you go girl! Of course, it isn't something that she can change but it makes her feel better. I wonder where she gets that trait from?
Overall, my trip has been great. However it would have been great if all I had done was sit in the rocking chair and rock my brand new beautiful granddaughter and visited with daughter and son-in-law. But, it has been an adventure. I can't wait to see how the ride back to the airport will be tonight!