In requesting permission from Sarah @ Whispers on the Journey to publish her post, I told her that I loved the use of one little slice of life story, accompanied with actual dialogue, to capture an aspect of her cross-cultural life. I found it quite interesting. See what you think.
Answering Awkward Questions
by Sarah @ Whispers on the Journey
I answer really awkward questions without blinking.
I didn’t used to. I used to have a filter.
But tonight in my auto ride with a chatty driver – I realized just how far my American-filter for awkwardness has been stretched and disfigured. He was asking me questions about salary figures, marital status, why I chose to wear South Asian clothing, and my opinion on world politics and religion.
And I answered all of them. I chatted freely about my choice of clothes, the nature of man and Christianity. About how I’m not married because I’m “waiting for God’s choice” (this is the best answer that gets my parents off the hook for not currently searching for a husband).
The even weirder thing is – I now ask these questions too. I once struck up a conversation with a random girl in Dominoes pizza. We were both waiting for our take-out order. I plied her with questions. Married? Work? Where? Live with your family? Why not? And they’re ok with that?
She saw nothing wrong with answering all of those questions and more. I saw nothing wrong with asking them of a complete stranger.
There’s only one question I hate getting asked now.
But it’s not the one you might expect.
I hate getting asked how much I paid for something.
Not because I necessarily mind the question or find it impolite. But because if it’s a South Asian friend asking, my answer will inevitably be followed by “tsk tsk” and a lecture on how I could’ve gotten it cheaper somewhere else. (Or, I like to insert here, if I looked more South Asian!)
My neighbor once saw me coming in from the market with a bag of rice. She asked me how much I paid for it.
“26 rupees a kilo,” I replied innocently.
“Aww – you can get it for 23 rupees a kilo around the corner!”
So if it’s about where my money comes from, what I do every day, whether or not I’m married, if I live alone, what I think of corruption in politics and why I chose to wear the clothes I do – please ask!
If it’s about how much I paid for my rice – keep it to yourself!
Thanks, Sarah! Comments, writers? Could you all, in the next week or two, use dialogue to convey an incident between you and a national, and post it on your blog? This is the technique used in fictional pieces: telling the story through dialogue. I think it works great for telling about your cross-cultural lives too. I know you run into all types of interesting characters...why not introduce your readers to them.
And just to give us a peek, what if you posted a brief conversational exchange in the comment section this week...kinda like I said this, then he said that, etc.