I made a terrible mistake yesterday...
It all started out like a typical day. I got up, did my devotion, and got dressed. Unfortunately, as I got dressed I accidently put on the wrong head. I wore my American head. American heads do not do well in this country. No one else is wearing American heads... they are wearing heads from this country. So why is wearing an American head a problem?
Because American heads come with American thinking... and American thinking clashes with the thinking of this country. So yesterday's adventures were not as pleasant and entertaining as they should have been had I put on the right head.
So, we got ready to leave for church. I jumped on my scooter and started her up. Within minutes she began having problems staying started. American thinking? "I push start and you must obey. We are going to be late!" Non-American thinking... "It will work sooner or later. Time is no consequence." And the stress level began to rise.
On the way to church, after skooty decided to cooperate, Michaela and I are driving along... and a man on a cell phone decided to cross the road in front of us. No big deal. This happens a lot. We are always having to look out for people doing things like this. They will talk on the phone while crossing a dangerously busy road. Motorcycles, buses, taxis, and tuk tuks all dodge and weave around the oblivious padestrian. So, I decided I would just weave in behind him as I approached. Then suddenly, something during his precious phone conversation made him stop right in the middle of the road. He waved his arms in frustration over his conversation, then turned around to go back to the side he came from. Thankfully, I wasn't going very fast and I was able to quickly correct my path. American head said (not out loud thankfully), "DUDE! You gotta brain in there?!" Non-American head would have enjoyed the challenge of dodging him. Kind of like playing Frogger on the old Atari.
Just a couple of minutes later, I came to an T-shaped intersection. I had to turn left. A public transportation van apparently needed to do the same. However, he opted to stop right in the middle of the intersection, blocking every direction of traffic, to see if someone needed a ride. Then he saw someone he really needed to talk to. So while 20-30 vehicles all waited, he chatted with a padestrian. American head... "ARE YOU SERIOUS? If you just round the corner completely and pulled over, everyone could still go!" Non-American head... "I am in no hurry. I wonder what he is talking about?" Obviously, others must have been carrying their American heads in their passenger seat, because after a couple of minutes, a few horns started honking.
Church was pretty good, but not any English. I sat there and just read my Bible. I turned to the verses that were called out, so at least I could get a glimpse of what the messages were about.
Lunch afterwards was great. We stopped at a good Mexican restaurant. YUM!
Then we headed home. On the way home, it started raining. It is monsoon, after all. We had our rain gear ready. It took a few minutes to get on. Then we headed on our way... and the rain stopped. American head... "If I take the time to put all this on, it had better rain to make it worth my time." Non-American thinking... "Oh wow. Either way, I stayed dry today!"
We rushed home to do a Skype call with Grampa and Gramma D. When we got home, the battle began. The internet battle. We fought with the router, resetting it over and over again. After a couple of hours, we finally gave up. American head was stressed to the max! "I hate the internet here!" Non-American head would have waved it off and just tried to do it again another time. After all, not everyone has internet... or backup power for when power goes out.
I had had enough of my American head, so we all decided milkshakes would help relieve American head stress. I pulled down the blender. My excitement grew. A smile returned! This!!!! This is the answer to my problems! The stress will disappear with each gulp of yummy milkshake! I put ice in the blender. I put sugar in the blender. But it wasn't until I poured in the milk that I realized, I never put the bottom on the blender pitcher. Sugary milk flowed freely out the bottom and all over the counter. No, milkshakes were not the answer to my American head stress.
I put the bottom on the blender and tried again. The milkshakes I made tasted just like a Dunkin Doughnut. So maybe the milkshakes helped a little. In the end, Jason and I ended up watching one of my favorite movies (Persuasion- BBC version) and vegetating the last bit of the evening away.
This day describes what is called a culture stress day. Culture stress is a little different than culture shock. It is what happens when a person tries to force a culture into their mindset instead of adjusting their thinking to fit their new culture. It is often compounded by little mishaps throughout the day.
Imagine how differently my day would have went if I had remembered to leave my American head at home. The American head is used to getting what they want quickly... no wait. American heads are driven by the clock. They plan ahead and expect everyone else to do the same. But here, most people don't own a watch. They don't plan ahead. They don't foresee the road jams they could avoid by simple decisions. They live for the now.
Imagine how funny the milk on the counter would have been had I not worn my American head earlier that day. Imagine how thankful I could have been when it didn't rain. Imagine the giggle I could have had over the funny man on the phone. I could have made all kinds of silly speed bump jokes and laughed it all away.
I robbed myself of a great adventure yesterday by putting on the wrong head! So today, I got dressed, had a great Skype call... and left my American head in the closet.
Adventures are only had by those who choose to see life differently.