Sunday, August 29, 2010

Hey Momma

David and I went grocery shopping yesterday. In Lilongwe that means going to several stores and to the produce market. The produce market is an outdoor affair with rows of stalls or mats on the ground, lots of people, and plenty of dust. Since there is no way we are going to blend in we attracted a lot of attention. People called out to us from all sides wanting us to buy their apples or tomatoes. David they called Boss. "Hey Boss, tomatoes Boss. Hey Boss avocados Boss."

Boss sounds good. Sounds strong. It even sounds important. So what do I get called? In Indonesia it was "Misses" or "bule" (boo-lay) or even "Ibu" (ee-boo). I am fine with all of those. What do I get called here in Malawi? I'll tell you what I get called....Mamma! "Hey Mamma! Strawberries Mamma!"

My first thought was "Seriously....MOMMA??" followed closely by "I ain't your mamma" but even I have more of a filter on my mouth than that. I just smiled and bought some apples and stuck pretty close to Boss. I just hope that title doesn't go to his head. Boss and Mamma...Sheez!


Monica said...

omg. this post is so funny i had to read it aloud to ed because i was laughing out loud here at the computer. this resulted in both of us having a good laugh!!! momma and da boss. i LOVE it. david may never want to leave!!!!

Bryn said...

I'm sorry, but that's funny. How are women viewed in that country? I'm guessing they aren't as respected?

And doesn't "boss" go to every man's head?!!

Donna said...

Momma and boss? You need to get that cross-stitched on a pillow or something. Hilarious.

I was "hey, lady" in Beijing. Here, they mostly ignore me so far.

Connie said...

Momma and Boss :) Well, at least they are happy to see you! :) I have been called Madam Pasha, Pasha, and Madam Begum, or any combo of those terms in the ME or SE Asia.. which was a bit strange for me at first as I thought those were highly honorific, but they also seem to be used lightly to show respect and friendship, but I have also been addressed as Momma, or maybe it's MaMa (I'm not sure; depends on the speaker) by ME women, not usually men. It's used as an endearment. I think I've gotten to the point of answering to anything, as long as the tone of voice is nice :D

Shannon said...

Bryn--Don't worry I thought it was funny too, my humor tends towards the dry or sarcastic. As for women I haven't been here long enough to tell how women are treated. I have seen women police officers, so that is positive but driving in the country I have only seen girls at the water pumps.

Connie - The Warm Heart of Africa is nickname for Malawi. So far I have yet to meet a rude person. They all seem nice but the momma thing took me by surprise.

Jakarta Rocks said...

I like Momma. Just think, you can be warm and kind to anyone and they won't even think you aren't being sincere (think I've had too many red wines tonight).

Still - I like Momma. It sounds friendly and respectful. I don't see it as disrespectful at all (and this is from a female mining engineer who can tell you how much they polish that glass ceiling).

What's that - lay off the wine.

Did all four boys go? Have they started school yet? I know - I've got to keep reading.