Monday, June 22, 2009

"Your hands are soft like a baby's. You have done no real work in your life."

said George, as he pricked my finger for an Blood Smear to test my blood for malaria. Hmm... that's debatable, but after seeing 8-year-olds in the field hacking at the ground with hoes to help their parents farm, I am inclined to agree with him.

I guess I should start with how I came to be sitting in the health centre, waiting for the results of a malaria test. Doxycycline, the prophylaxis I am taking to prevent malaria, makes me nauseous every morning. That particular morning had been especially bad, so I opted to take it easy and stay in the apartment. Everyone at Kyetume was convinced that because I was at home, I must have malaria. Since, Reuben will not take no for an answer, I found myself sitting in the health centre, waiting for slides of my blood to dry so George could tell me if I did indeed have malaria or not.

And while we waited, we talked.

I told the lab technician that I was also very interested in science and was studying Chemistry at my university. He asked if I planned to become a doctor, and told him that I was not so sure even though my M.D. father would be happy if I did. After that, George said something that caught me way off guard, “So your mother is deceased?” Um, excuse me? No! What do you know that I don’t? When I replied in the negative, he said, “Ah, so you parents must be divorced.” No… not that either. What was going on? He was a little taken aback to learn that my parents were still married and living together. “The divorce rate in foreign countries is so high. I figured your parents would not still be married.”

And there it was. It took me by surprise that he was so astonished to learn my parents were still married. I came to Uganda very cautious about the stereotypes I had in my mind about Africa, not wishing to offend anyone that I meet. I guess I was so concerned about the potential prejudices I harbored, I hadn’t realized I’d be dealing with the reverse. There are the common – like, “Born in America? No, you are Indian.” and the ever popular one about how loaded I am since I am American and how America handed me money to finance my trip here. Oh, I wish. Well anyways, I thought that this incident of reverse stereotyping was especially bizarre and I’d share.

Overall things here are good. Finally, with less than a month to go, I feel like I have so many things to do that I don’t know where to start. But I don’t mind it. I think I like life better that way.

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