Thursday, October 13, 2005

Local colour

Picaresque, picayune multicultural vignettes

-How come when these old - or actually, any - Tibetan gets on the local (not long distance) pay phone, they have to YELL at the top of their lungs like they are hollering through a tin can attached to a piece of twine? (The internet cafes here all have public pay phones at the front desk. Unlike the States, it's just a normal phone with a minute-timer and they charge by the minute.) They should install the Green Acres phone at the top of the pole. The old Tibetan ladies in their chupas could climb up there and not disturb everyone else in the net place, who are already struggling with the sticky keyboards, slow connections and outdated software (Windows 98!).

-Do South Asians just have more spit and phlegm in their bodies than anyone else? They constantly make excoriating horking and throat-clearing, esophagous-scraping sounds, then spit the result inches away from your sandaled feet. How come no one else feels the need to do this? Even the Tibetans don't seem to be constantly doing the hoc-pitui like the Indians and Nepalese. Every morning at 4AM, it's like a uvular alarm clock, I lie in bed and listen to people expectorating lakes full of mucous. And I thought the rednecks and their tobacco chaw were bad in Tennesssee. The tradition is that it's purifying and cleansing to the body, but it has quite the opposite result for the immediate environment.

-Then again, I am living in a country where the recent solar eclipse (which wasn't even visible here) was declared a national holiday. Banks and government offices closed because it's considered so inauspicious to go out at that time, they probably couldn't have paid people enough to show up to work anyway. At least not without slaughtering a half-dozen extra goats before leaving the house. Not to mock these practices per se - at least they slaughter their own goats for consumption, unlike my country where we can purchase plastic-wrapped packages of denial at the supermarket.

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Next time: Getting Robbed in Kathmandu

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