There are so many small ways I have had to adjust back to the developed world. Early on, I saw the frustrations but not all the small things.
Using the dishwasher—It took me a few months to start using the dishwasher comfortably. Remember in Africa there wasn’t a dishwasher. Instead, it was Mrs. Masina and me, and anyone else around who wanted to lend a hand. So once here, faced with a dishwasher to use, I was not very comfortable. Not because it isn’t convenient, because it is. There seems to be so much water wasted in the process. Just thinking about how many people in the world do not have clean water, and there I was with a machine using a bunch of it to wash dishes. Somehow, I figured that washing by hand would save water. Nevertheless, I had to reenter my own culture. Therefore, I had to compromise. I have accepted the use of the dishwasher, but I try to wash most things in the sink, then when sleep or the day is calling, I’m okay with putting some stuff in the machine.
The grocery store—Endless possibilities of cheese! Milk choices galore. Here, there are just so many options. It felt overwhelming. I tried to remember how it was before. What items I used to buy. Since being home, I’ve spent time in grocery stores, just perusing the isles. After not seeing these brands in a while, it has taken time just to get used to them again. Also, there are new things filling the shelves. I might have remembered a certain item that has since been replaced. Just allowing myself to try new things that are not on the grocery list. It has been an adjustment to be okay with that and to get a treat now and again.
Driving—Now this could be specific to Orange County because we are close to Los Angeles and its crazy drivers. The driving in Malawi is on a different level entirely, but what got me here is that, generally, people follow the laws of the road. I had forgotten the rude/entitled factor that comes into play. This is also seen as road rage. The other day I was changing lanes on Beach Blvd., I checked my mirrors, my blind spot and made sure my blinker was on. Then as I switched lanes, a red convertible with a blond girl at the wheel came zooming into view, honking loudly, swearing, and making mean faces. To me, what happened was she was way over the speed limit and wasn’t even around when I was looking for other cars. She had plenty of space to slow down but she didn’t want to. So because other people happen to be on the road, the road that she thought she owned, she had to make a fuss and get a bunch of attention. She was the most important person in her own little world.
Making chapattis, also known as tortillas—Part of adjusting back means continuing to do some things that I started in Malawi. One of these things is making chapattis. Here we call them tortillas because of Mexico’s influence. However, in Malawi, the name comes from India. I learned how to make them from one of our neighbors there. Moreover, I hadn’t really been making them here. The other day, it was breakfast time and I just wanted a breakfast burrito. I wasn’t about to go out and buy some tortillas, so I decided I would just make them! Since I have been able to buy them at the grocery store, I haven’t really been making them, which is silly because they are so much better fresh. That morning reminded me of that. It also reminded me of something else I learned in Malawi; use what you have to do what you want or need right now. In our American minds, we always think as consumers, “oh just go to the store really quick”. Well next time, be it tortillas or otherwise, look around and see how you can make do. Chances are, that you have a plethora of possibilities just lying about the house.