Last weekend I went to visit a flat in the hope of securing a room. It had been difficult finding one due to my failure in the Castellano language department, and the fact that these people do not speak English doesn’t make it any better either. I was somehow lucky enough to stumble across this advertisement where the lady was able to communicate in English and we made an appointment to see each other. The very first minute we met I sensed the lady was feeling a lil' unease and my intuition turned out to be true…
1) As I was telling her about myself and how long I would be staying, she interrupted and told me that she was looking for someone who is willing to stay much longer (of course, something she never mentioned during our earlier communication)
2) After a quick tour of the house, she quoted me the price of the room which by the way, was 70 Euros MORE expensive than what I was told earlier
I somehow thanked her for showing me around (and for wasting my time) and as I was about to leave she started errr...'pouring her heart out'...
“Oh I don’t know if you would feel comfortable living with me…”
“I don’t know if we would be compatible together…”
“I don’t know your culture and you don’t know mine…”
“I wear shoes in the house…” (Simply because I asked her earlier whether it was ok to go into the house with my shoes on, duh. Maybe someone should tell this lady that in some part of the world people practice more hygiene and please, do not expect everyone to be exactly like you are because we are all different in our own special kind of way)
Alahai, rasa cam tgh go thru the 'Its-not-you-its-me' breaking up routine jek! Well silly me for not noticing earlier. I finally realized that the minute she saw me at the train station, she decided straight away that she didn’t want to live with me just because I was DIFFERENT.
The incident reminded me of my stay in Greece some time ago. Back then I had stayed with this precious 50+ year old Greek lady who couldn’t speak a word of English. On the first day that I met her, she told me to make use of the house as if it was my own; she even offered to cook for me everyday. As I was with a Greek friend at the moment, I asked this dear friend to explain to her about my limitations on food (it was difficult for me to explain about the Halal thingy as he spoke very little English, I decided to tell him I was some sort of vegetarian). I also told her that I would be buying my own utensils for cooking; quietly hoping the old lady wouldn’t be offended by my wishes. Not only that she gave me her new shining pot for my usage and told me not to waste any money on buying a new one, she even stopped eating meat altogether and became a vegetarian for three whole months! Till the end of the stay, I couldn’t really figure out what she did for a living due to our communication barrier, but from her modest way of living I figured she hadn't had much chance to travel across Europe, let alone in other parts of the world and meet people of all kinds. Yet this lady understood well what diversity was all about and treated me as if I was one of her kind despite of our differences. What a gem she was.
So my point is, instead of associating diversity with being different or bad or weird, or whatever negativity that some people have in their mind, aren’t we all plain human beings and isn’t that a good enough reason for us to respect and accept each other?
After A While
2 years ago