Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of awkward moments. The Office (the UK version of course) is one of my favourite shows. And I liked to think I enjoyed real-life awkward moments, being in the middle of them. Up until now.
Let me explain.
After a pretty difficult and emotionally draining week coming to terms with my new life in Tanzania, I was up and on another plane to spend two weeks on the other side of the continent.
Now, I'm in Mali, and spent the day with humanitarian agency Oxfam visiting some of their projects in the Kayes region. The first project we visited was a voucher distribution programme, where the most vulnerable families receive vouchers to buy food to help them survive the lean season (between harvests).
Arriving was overwhelming. First, 300 mostly women and children had been waiting for hours in the sun just for us to get there. Then, getting out of the car, we were met with this:
Now I know it's awkward when you're in a new culture, and that it takes time to understand how to act appropriately. But consider the fact I speak literally NO French, and so can't even say "my name is Kim, I'm glad ot meet you" (note: really wishing I had paid attention in 3rd, or 4th or 5th form French). And consider again the fact that it's a huge deal for Malians to be able to show gratitude... and that the group of people we are travelling with have probably kept half their village alive over the past three six months.
So! It's a huge thankyou fest.
Then there's me, standing awkwardly in the middle of it all, with a bulging expensive camera in hand and a goofy smile on my face - a little something like this...
...And that's when a woman in the throes of emotion approaches me.
She's wailing, literally wailing. Screaming French at me, I can't tell if she's extremely excited, or just angry. Then she stops, and waits for a repsonse. Hmmm...
I'm not sure what to do, so I smile, go to shake her hand and like a complete goober just blurt out some English words and hope she'll accept them.
The moment passed, and I continued on my way, hoping I don't become legend in Koussane as the girl who had a meltdown in the middle of what was meant to be a beautiful exchange.
I'd love to feel better by hearing about your awkward moments... anyone? Anyone at all?
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