Jay-Z details in his autobiography that when he was on the streets, he would repeat a rhyme over and over to himself until he could later write it down and incorporate it into a new rap. I forget exactly why he couldn’t just carry a pen and a piece of paper, but I can certainly relate. I find myself going about my day trying to mentally record details to share with folks back home. Unfortunately, I did not develop a photographic memory like Jay-Z, so many of these things escape me now. I will share with you a couple of tidbits that I do remember.
1) In my second week in the village, I went to greet a crowd in the street behind my house. As I was approaching the kids, I neglected to notice the ditch between us that I would inevitably fall into. In a polite culture, the neighbors did what they could to cover their mouths as they burst into laughter as I fell, but there is only so much one can do. Needless to say, I was destined to provide endless entertainment to my village in weeks to come.
2) This past week, I ran into another neighbor on the street, and she was excitedly coming toward me with her hand outstretched. I would like to preface that I was a little tired from the day’s activities, so I was not thinking clearly. As an additional aside, for those Wappingers Falls readers - you know how Minh would kind of sniff each side of our face as a way to say good-bye? Well, that is how my host mom also says good-bye to me. Thinking this is what my neighbor also had planned, I started to go in for the sniff – only I don’t believe this is what she intended at all because as I started to move in, I could see her eyes enlarge, but it was already too late. She had adjusted her face in a way so that when I went in, I ended up oddly smooching her on the nose. I am not sure if I can paint exactly how awkward this was. We both just walked away. I couldn’t be sure what cultural damage was caused by this event. For all I know, my near French kiss of a village woman could have initiated a sequence of events leading to strained US/Indonesian relations. Luckily, when I went out for my run the next day, she flagged me down, grabbed my hand, and placed a handful of corn in it. I am not exactly sure what this action means, but I think we are all good now.
3) When I go running around town, I enjoy taking my time and greeting people as I pass. I even do this on the main roads which my host sister says is kind of “aneh”, or strange. I decided to whole-heartedly embrace the strange at this point because, really, is it any less strange to see a bule, red-in-the-face, running around for no reason at all when she doesn’t say “hello”? So, when I reach one of our neighborhood theme parks, I have taken to running up the zoo steps and jumping around with my arms up once I reach the top as if I am Rocky. There are usually only a few spectators early in the morning, and I have no idea if they know the reference - but they seem to enjoy it. If I am going to be "aneh" no matter what I do, I figure I might as well provide some enjoyment as I go.