Saturday, August 02, 2008

Relating to the desa

In Indonesian, the word "desa" means "village." Even though we live in a city of maybe 500,000 (hard to know exactly how many post-tsunami), some have called this place a "mega-desa." In so many ways, it is. Having grown up in Bangkok, city of 12 million, give or take a couple of million, and then spending the 6 1/2 years prior to moving here in San Francisco, I would call myself a city girl. I thus find it a struggle often when trying to relate to some of my neighbors here. I really WANT to relate to them, but find myself tongue-tied at times, in large part because the direction of the conversations (aka, the questions fired at me by one and all simultaneously) are so completely unexpected.

Today, for example, I took Jaden for a walk, where we met some neighbors we had not met before. After they ascertained that I spoke Indonesian (none of them were English speakers), the questions came fast and furious. Not too far into the conversation came the question as to what type of contraception my husband and I used. I shouldn't have been surprised, I suppose, as I've gotten that question before, just generally not during the very first meeting. They then proceeded to ask me why I hadn't brought some of it for them, because they were sure it must work better than theirs. "The pill makes us fat," they said. I explained that this sometimes happens in America, too. "Can't you bring us some of yours?" Well, no, I didn't exactly stock a supply for a village. Somehow this seemed to not make any sense to them. And the fact that it didn't make any sense to them didn't make any sense to me. And this is how I often feel in the middle of the conversations ... a vague feeling of having completely lost a connection with any type of logic that I recognize.


Blogger Tiffany said...

I'm laughing out loud. This provides a great image of the obstacles that are common to you.

6:00 AM


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