Wednesday, May 30, 2012

the curtain enigma

The thing I find most shocking about culture shock is that it just keeps sneaking up on you.  Eight months into our life here, it still pops around the corner at me and provokes me to stick my tongue out at a local or snatch Jude away from a pinching auntie. It's the kind of beast that will drive you mad over nothing at all.  

Here's my cultural situation o' the week.

Last night we went to the mall. It's a lovely western mall with all sorts of amenities.  Word on the street is, they're opening a movie theater in T-7 days.  We'll see if that street word is accurate:) This deliciously western mall actually has a mothercare room right inside the ladies bathroom.  This was a surprising and wonderful discovery for me. Generally speaking, (and might I add, to my dismay) there's no way to hide away in a bathroom or anywhere else to feed the baby here.  

As a pre-cursor to a Subway sandwich, I husled over to mothercare to feed Silas.  The room has 2 chairs, a sink and is protected from the public eye by a Toy Story shower curtain.  It's relative luxury in these parts.  (Never mind that the a/c doesn't stretch inside....)

I sat down to nurse the hungry and hot baby behind the privacy of a shower curtain. And at least 1x per minute, someone whipped that curtain back to see what was going on in there.  This happens every single time I go in there.  It's like a magnetic pull.  It's as if it isn't humanly possible for those asians to walk past the curtain and not check to see if there is a mother and baby on the other side.  When they find it is a gleaming American, the joy is all the greater.  

Eventually, last night, an 8 year old just pulled the whole curtain aside, after which followed a train of saree clad ladies who stared unashamedly as they paraded past.  We were a side show. 

After 2 months of this experience, I admit the humor is piling up.  There's really nothing wrong with the curiosity.  And to be honest, if a bunch of asian aunties want to smile and stare while I nurse the baby, there's not a lot of harm done.  I don't really care. 

The stress comes from the lack of understanding.  

I want to stop them, each and every one of them, and interview them. What could possibly be going on in their minds? Why the need to whip that curtain aside? What on earth do they hope to find? I don't understand.  I really don't. 

And with that unexplained question looming large before me, I'll probably continue to wave my hand at small children who peer inside and cast annoyed glances at prolonged stare-ers.  Ah, culture shock. How long will you haunt me? 

Who knew that cultural adaptation would encompass so many facets? 


Laurin said...

Oh, Laura. You are handling it all so well. Aaron and I have almost daily brought up the sticking out your toungue occurrence since you posted a/b that....we just can't stop laughing about it.

Linz said...

yikes! at least people arent looking at you shocked or disapprovingly. but still!