Sunday, October 17, 2010
Lately I’ve been noticing some strange changes in me, most likely due to the fact that I’ve been in Kenya for almost a year now. (Wow, I cannot believe it’s been a year!) For instance, my Kenyan voice (which my brother described to me as sounding like I have a British accent, minus the British part) is beginning to pervade ALL my conversations, not just my conversations with Kenyans. And I catch myself making very Kenyan comments like saying “Nice time” when a year ago I would have said something like “have a good day.” And the ultimate Kenyan thing that I unfortunately hear myself saying all the time is responding “I’m fine” before someone even greets me!
I remember a year ago, when I first arrived here, smirking to myself about these language oddities. Who replies to a greeting when nothing has even been said???? And, to top it off, certain occurrences hardly phase me such as seeing a goat being transported on the back of a bicycle or livestock being walked on leashes like pet puppies. When I first arrived, I remember balking at a matatu completely covered in chickens. Now that I’ve seen it a few times, it really is nothing surprising (definitely not camera worthy, like it used to be).
Whether my turning Kenyan is a positive or negative thing, I cannot say. However, it makes me wonder if when I go back, I’ll stare at things that seem so common and everyday to you. Like a supermarket aisle or a Starbucks menu or seeing running water in every household. Will living in America make me yearn for what I’ve become so accustomed to here? Will I miss my daily sighting of bicycle transported animals or cows accompanying meon my walk to school everyday? While time will only tell about my eventual transition back to the states, I hope that you won’t think I’m too strange if you catch me gazing in wonderment at the fifty different brands of soap or taking 20 minutes deciding what coffee I want to order. And don’t think I’m too strange if I talk to you in an accent that sounds British, minus the British part. I know that I have a long time to wonder about these things, but taking into account how fast this year has already gone by, I know this next year will pass much too quickly. While I can promise you that I won’t come back with the skin colour of a Kenyan (like my students initially predicted would occur over the course of my stay here), I can’t promise you that I’ll come back as the same Jenny that you remember. Blame it on Kenya :)