Everything I just said is a perfect example of how un-Malagasy I am and probably will always be. Malagasy people’s lives don’t change. They do the same thing day after day, and usually earn just enough to get by. And they’re fine with that. They’re happier with their lives then most Americans will ever be; after all, there’s security in consistency. This is one of my favorite cultural divergences to discuss with my Malagasy friends. I teach them about the American Dream and the saying, “Time is money.” (Incidentally, Malagasy people LOVE proverbs. The Malagasy have a similar proverb along the lines of, “Time is golden,” which I think, when compared to ours, is hilarious in its irony.) I explain how idleness is like a taboo in American culture and how we believe the harder you work, the more rewards – monetary or otherwise – you will receive. When you really think about it, it’s absolutely incredible how many aspects of our culture are shaped by the American Dream, which is ingrained in our minds from early childhood. It’s interesting, though depressing, to observe how Malagasy society is affected by colliding cultures; how the Western ideal of “you can do anything, be anyone, go anywhere” is influencing younger generations, yet they don’t understand why they don’t have the same opportunities as Americans and Europeans.
On the lighter side… The days in Fort Dauphin are short now, and it’s getting chilly. My neighbors’ cat has a 3-month old kitten that has learned how to cry for food every time she sees me, even if she’s not particularly hungry. One of their chickens also bops in and out of my house with her babies. Their adult feathers are starting to come in, so they’re not cute anymore. My classes at CEL finish this week. Neighborhood dogs walk in and out of our wooden, open-air classrooms when I teach. This always makes me kind of happy. My friend down by the beach just had a beautiful baby boy after a 12-month pregnancy. Puzzle that one out. I didn’t have enough time to pick through the pile of clothes stuffed in my closet for a decent gift, so I just gave her 5,000Ar in an envelope. She’ll stay in her 1-room house with the baby for a month or so to fatten herself up. It’s shameful for her family if she emerges skinny. I had a kokolampo (a spirit – sometimes good, sometimes evil) living in my body for about 2 weeks last month. It left, but I think it came back a couple days ago. I’m re-watching seasons 1 and 2 of Glee. For the fourth time. If anyone has season 3, or season 2 of Game of Thrones, or anything Family Guy, (preferably in digital form) my address is to your right.