For aggravating reasons Twitter doesn’t work via SMS here, so I’d have to use a computer to “microblog”. And then it just feels silly. Instead, I’ll just occasionally post lists of stuff that crosses my mind on this blog:
- Malawian English isn’t big on prepositions or certain adverbs. I’ve noticed the following default phrasings: “Can you pick me?” instead of “Can you pick me up?”*; “Drop me here” instead of “Drop me off here”; “I’m coming” instead of “I’m coming back”. I’m on the alert for more.
- It is much harder to switch which hand I use my turn signal with than to adjust to driving on the opposite side of the road; my windshield gets cleaned every time I turn. Thank God those lovably inconsistent Brits didn’t take it upon themselves to change which side the clutch is on.
- Making change is a catastrophe here, just like in every poor country I’ve been to – there’s even a paper about it. Half of my purchases involve a set of back-end transactions across a network of up to 5 people to get the right change. How do they even remember who owes whom? What makes this so different than in the US? I have no answers.
- You don’t get used to the smell of mosquito coils. It actually gets worse with more time. Didn’t know that could happen.
- People here are nice. Like crazy nice. If a random foreigner walked up to your house and tried to ask questions, I’ll bet you’d shoo him off the porch. The women here try to give me their only stool to sit on and sit in the dirt, and it’s a struggle to politely turn down. Having my enumerator take it is a little better I guess.
*I’m not sure how the misguided prescriptivists who abhor sentence-ending prepositions would even say this.