Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Interaction with the natives

Back where I come from, your questions can be considered insensitive.  Now please give me my food as a line is forming behind me.
The first base was the largest of the 3 bases that we have visited.  It was a transit point so there were many travelers passing through.  This was also the first time I talked with a native for more than a few seconds.  One of the times was at a dining facility where I noticed one of the servers behind the food stand started asking these oddly insensitive questions relating to my far east background.  I was taken by surprise as I was expecting him to ask which food item I wanted so it took me a few seconds to give an answer.  Fortunately, a line of people was forming behind me so I had an excuse to move on to the next stand.
Arg, move away! You're invading my personal space!
Another weird interaction was during the time we visited the work site.  One of the young native men (age 23) was eyeing me before getting closer to chat about non-work stuff.  Like the previous person, he also asked some oddly insensitive questions but I was able to steer the conversation to other topics.  He was also standing too close but I passed that off as cultural difference.  Although some themes were harder to get across due to language barriers, I learned more about his hobbies (and age) than I intended to.  Fortunately, the Captain called me away to do actual work (even though it's actually outside my field) so I was able to escape.  For the rest of that afternoon, I did not stray too far from the party.

All the other natives were nice and normal.  One gave out candy at the entrance of the work site while another went somewhere just to fetch me bottled water.  I accepted but did not eat the candy though as a coworker advised against eating it.  I gave the water away to the Captain as I originally looked for it for him.  Somehow, I doubt these other people had as good a command of my spoken language as they were older and did not make an attempt to speak anything other than their own native language.

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