Wow I still am amazed sometimes by the differences!
I have traveled a fair amount in my life and seen many cultures. After a while you think you got it down pat. Then someone throws a curve ball and knocks you on your ass again. I have lived in the Philippines full time for 17 months so far. No major culture shock, no major upheavals. Then yesterday we went to a movie. And I was so shocked… it is still hard to believe what happened… just unheard of…
We went to see Transformers 4 yesterday, me, my wife, and our 17 year old nephew. We were running late (surprise!), and the popcorn line was moving hideously slow. So my wife & I were like ‘let’s skip the popcorn and get in the theater’. But the nephew had a look like we suggested murder suicide ha ha… . I am not going to miss the beginning of the movie so I give her my wallet and go get seats. I’m thinking he is just acting like a spoiled teenager. I am not upset by his behavior, but I am not missing the beginning of the movie (yeah, I am spoiled too). If she wants to wait in line she can. Well a minute later he comes and sits down too. Apparently she told him to come in so he does not miss the beginning of the movie either. I’m thinking if he wants popcorn so bad – he should at least wait with her and help carry it in. Luckily they bag the popcorn and drinks so they are easy to carry. Anyway she comes in about 5 minutes into the movie – and there were only 2 people in front of her in line. But this not the shocking part. It comes after the movie….
After the movie she was making fun of the nephew for almost falling while getting in and out of the theater seat. She laughed and said he had never sat in one before… Wait… what?! Yes, he is 17 and this is the first time he has seen a movie at the theater! I mean, I know he is from the province, and it is a 2 hour bus ride to the nearest town with a grocery store, but somehow I just never imagined a 17 year old could have not been to a movie. Dorothy, we ain’t in Kansas anymore.
It made me pause and think about things more. I know there are cultural differences and they affect relationships between expats and locals. But sometimes we forget just how different their upbringing is. We notice the big things. Many locals have no running water, or no electricity, and certainly no water heaters. We recently moved from our nipa house into a brick apartment. First day there I added in a water heater for the shower. My wife never uses it, if I turn the temperature up at all she turns it back down when she showers. Easy to adjust so no worries. Well the other day, I was hot one afternoon, so I turned the heater off and took a shower straight cold – from the well. Next time I showered, not only had she turned it back on, she turned it up almost as hot as I usually take my shower. So… she is warming up to warm water. But then she will still use the tabo (bucket) for a shower quite often. Old habits are hard to break, I guess. But these are expected differences.
We expect to have to teach our wives about microwaves, or a real washer & dryer, and sometimes even refrigerators. But who think about simple things (to us) like a movie theater? It just really made me stop and think. Now of course next time we get in a disagreement I will forget this… but for today it made me stop and think ha ha.