an interesting thing happened to me while on leave at st lucia recently. it was the sort of thing that might be considered funny by certain cultures, even maybe my own, but sometimes these sorts of things are frowned upon by the more refined cultures.
actually i wasn't even going to blog about it because it doesn't really pertain to surgery. but seeing that i recently considered the more refined cultures and seeing that i have another potential post also along these lines that does actually pertain to surgery lined up i thought i should mention it to be totally honest. be warned, those who have even a slightly good opinion of me should turn back now.
so there amanzimtoti and i were on the banks of the st lucia estuary enjoying a meal at a very pleasant outside restaurant looking at the crocodiles basking and the hippos lying in the water. now amanzimtoti and i are culturally distinct from one another. we're both south african, but we are not the same. my culture tends to be a bit more reserved. hers, not so much. at the next table were two europeans (i think they were dutch but they may have been german) who are obviously vastly different to both of us.
we had eaten and i was standing up to get a better view of the hippos. i then bent down to pick something up when it happened. the combination of a large meal, a belt that was maybe a bit too tight and a small hiatus hernia couldn't take the added intra abdominal pressure and unfortunately a somewhat loud burp was let out. immediately the european man turned around and in an angry voice reprimanded me.
now south africans are pretty aggressive people. in our culture quite a lot less than this could be construed as an act of open aggression. in fact in our context usually if you do something like this you should check that you are bigger than the other guy, just in case. he wasn't bigger than me so, being south african i checked if i could see if he was carrying a weapon. instinctively i felt for my knife. but i said nothing. i was too taken aback. also i wasn't prepared to actually fight.
amanzimtoti, however reacted instinctively according to her culture, without the restrictions of strategic thought that my culture limited me to. she told the guy where he could get off in true cape flats style. (actually she told him how. the where was implied.)
my mind put it all together then. he was european and had gravely misunderstood the severity of the implication of his words in the south african context. he was not armed and less keen on a fight than me actually. he was also way out of line by south african standards. i let rip. i was not happy to let some uppity european try to put me in my place and i let him know this. quite soon he found himself under a double barrage of extreme aggression. he also seemed to realise that he had walked into a situation he did not fully grasp and i think he thought that there was actually going to be a fight. he not only backed down, but with all due haste removed himself and his partner from the situation.
when it was all over i was not overly proud of my reaction. i did not feel good, but i did feel south african. it was however an interesting interaction of three different cultures. it is also humbling and slightly embarrassing to realise that i as yet have not risen above my culture as i often like to think i have.