To set a scene. It was dark. In fact the only thing of importance in this scene is the sounds. My stomach was rumbling. The other fluent English speaker in my town asks “what do you want for dinner?”. Just “normal food” I said casually, pointing to the street food stall selling rice with chicken feet, unrecognisable vegetables, rice, sticky rice, noodles and of course more rice. Four months in a foreign land, welcome to the written tour of my new normal.
Before my new normal began. Things did feel strange.
I felt immediately uneasy after shouting across a room “don’t swing on your chair!!!!” with genuine panic in my voice and in my mind after thinking I swear my teacher told me off for that only months ago.
I felt confused walking into my local shop (a garage that has a till and shelves of food) realising I hadn’t taken my shoes off and having to walk right back out to place them next to the row of tiny shoes belonging to the kids getting there daily sugar dose. I think I may get strange looks if I attempt to slip my trainers off upon entering Tesco express back in bonnie Scotland.
I felt uncomfortable as complete strangers ask me “have you taken a shower” everytime I saw them. It turns out I don’t smell bad and when they question my hygiene, as well as asking me if I had eaten rice yet. It translates as saying he what’s up, how are you.
23rd of January, 2017.
The day everything felt normal. Instead of trying to convince the people I passed I had showered only just last night. I mean I swear I used soap and everything. I bowed with my hands in prayer and replied good morning to you too.
People normally start a story with the weather so I’ll let you know it was cold and I mean cold. The kids were wearing jackets. I was forced to battle with wooden door to close the class room door with my 36 shivering students inside. A freezing 21 degrees.
I helped a student pronounce their sentence in their book ‘my birthday is on the 12th of January’. Emphasis on the ‘th’ at the end of the number. It’s not the twelve of January after all. The student was infact 3 months older than me, since we are talking about birthdays.
The Monday madness hit me hard around 3pm after 4 busy busy classes. Here’s a picture of my students:
I decided to cure my headache and hunger as it approached 5.30pm. Craving my old normal I wanted pasta or pizza, you know just something western. Old vs New. Back home I would normally cure a pizza craving by picking up the phone and have a man deliver a pizza. Sounds great?! Yes, but I can tell you the new is improved.
Here I crave pizza. I hop on my bike in search of the mythical pizza place someone told was somewhere in the town. I get lost. The failing of my findings led to something so much better. A hidden huge market. I never even knew about. I’m talking pink meat stacked on wood. Plastic shoes of every colour. Sweets I see my students trying to eat on the sly in class. Picking up bunches of bananas, mangos all under 20p. I quickly forget what a pizza is. Upon riding home I stop off at a temple to have a catch up with some monks. Get a reading that tells me I will find ‘fortune difficult to come across’. Makes me think the author of the unlucky fortune has never heard of accidental finding a bunch of bananas for 14p. Riding home I relise that everything that use to feel strange is so normal to me.
Despite what a temple reading tells me. I have found gold at the end of a rainbow. I really have found good fortune in my new normal.
As a side note: It’s also has told people in the past they will never find happiness or a spouse. So if the author of fortune tellings is ever looking at blogs for inspiration and sees this. Please make them more positive. People may have not been as lucky as me to have had a pizza craving that made them realise how much they love their new normal.