Sunday, February 27, 2011

Yes, No, Maybe So

When I first arrived in Bhutan, one thing I found particularly hard to get use to was the way they said “yes”.  Instead of nodding up and down, the Bhutanese nod their heads from side to side, the way that an American may say, “Eh, not now,” or, “Maybe, we’ll see”.

I would order a tea and see, “Whatever, if you insist”.  I would ask if they have eggs and see “Fine, I guess I’ll check.”  I would even try to do the sideways head nod myself, and the unnaturalness of it would make my brain rattle.

The other day, as I was trying to order an extra side of hot sauce at the restaurant because my stomach can officially handle the amount of chili I crave,  the waitress double-checked that she had understood correctly.  That was when I realized shortly after, I had become a subconscious, sideways head-nodder.  I wondered how long I had been doing it for, then I chowed down on my omelet.

When I get back to the states, don’t assume Bhutan has turned me into some nonchalant person who only responds with “I don’t care” or “Eh, whatever”.  In reality, it may be a “yes indeed”, or “sounds good to me”.

Instances like this remind me to capture the hilarity of my surroundings and share them with others, sooner rather than later, before the interesting becomes natural and unnoticed.

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