Saturday, March 15, 2014

What Is Normal ?

    What is normal to one person can be far from ordinary to another. "Ordinary is what you are used to.     This may not seem ordinary to you now but after time it will become ordinary."- Margaret Atwood
    No matter where we live, we bring our culture with us. It is like our skin and covers all we think and do. We may think we have risen above that but perhaps the most we can hope to do is adapt.
    Upon my arrival in Burkina Faso just over five months ago, sights, sounds and customs struck me as peculiar. I could be heard making comments about buying eggs from people on the street and questioning the safety of such a practice. Or thinking it odd that each morning women busy themselves sweeping SAND! Often I would regret that I had left my camera at home when I saw a a women balancing a huge pan of carrots on her head , each one artistically arranged  for visual pleasure.
    I have recently noticed that I rarely think of snapping photos of donkey carts, traffic jams created by sheep and goats crossing busy streets in the nation's capital or buses jammed with passengers both inside the vehicle and sharing space on the roof with luggage, motorcycles and livestock. Has all this become normal to me? Am I unconsciously adapting, assimilating to this new culture?
    Maybe so. I have eaten the  eggs without any negative gastric effects. Yet surprises still occur. Like the day Ruth hopped out of the car to dash across the street and over her shoulder said, "Buy some eggs and make sure they are not hard boiled." I simply chuckled at her humor and purchased six eggs from the girl who approached our car. Feeling quite pleased with myself, I held them for Ruth to see. "They are not hard boiled are they"? she asked. It was then that I realized she was not joking. And of course, they were " deja cuire" already cooked!!! Dinner became egg salad prepared with a plastic spoon and mixed in a black plastic bag since we were spending the night in an auberge ( hostel).
Julia Child would have been impressed with my skill in manipulating the "pastry bag".
    Every day I marvel at the richness of this culture  and still find things that aren't yet ordinary to me.

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