Cultural Adjustments

It’s great to be back in Malawi and I am amazed at how quickly I’ve felt at home. However, it’s not been without the need for cultural adjustments. On my first Monday I went to say hello in the staff room. I was greeted by the secretary ... ‘Wow! You’re fat!’ ... It was followed by complete confusion on my part and then ‘I’ll soon lose that now that I’m back in Malawi’ ... I was newly back and it wasn’t until later that day that I realised that they were actually paying me a compliment!

Next I went to see one of the Malawian lecturers. He and his wife had a beautiful baby girl, ‘Shalom’, at the end of September. I was asked to stay for lunch. They laughed as first someone had to serve me and then they watched me wincing my way through the meal ... there was nothing wrong with the food, it was my fingers. Thirteen months of eating with a knife and fork had softened my fingers and left them ill-equipped to deal with freshly cooked nsima.

And then there have been the cockroaches ... not a creature I have ever grown fond of. As I walked round my house that first afternoon I discovered cockroach traps in every room. I wonder why? The electricity duly went off at 6pm and I thought ‘now I am about to find out’. I had no ‘Doom‘, a spray that is used to kill things like cockroaches, so I put my shoes on and prepared myself for battle. The maintenance guy on the Monday, made some comment about buying some cockroach paint. ‘Yes, I’m having a good time with the cockroaches.’ ‘Oh? How many have you killed?’ ‘8 or 10 big ones so far’ ‘Those cockroach traps must be doing their job then.’ I dread to think how many there were!