kept my left hand away from the food"
Mexico I was invited to a party. The invitation said to arrive at
8:30pm. I had heard that in Mexico you should always come a little
later than the invitation. So I thought about it and I decided that
9pm would be good; not too late and not too early. Unfortunately
the other guests didn't arrive until 11.30pm. How was I to know
that 8:30 meant 11:30?
I was in Saudi Arabia I was having dinner with a local family. I
knew that in Saudi Arabia you are not supposed to use your left
hand when you eat. So I kept my left hand away from the food. I
was careful during the meal and I felt very pleased with myself.
At the end of the meal the host brought everyone a large cup of
lemon water. I was very thirsty and so I happily drank it. Everyone
started laughing. I wondered what was wrong. Maybe the host is supposed
to drink first. Or maybe the oldest person is supposed to drink
first. I didn't know. I felt foolish when I found out that the cup
of lemon water was not for drinking. It was to clean my fingers!
Germany someone I met gave me a gift. It was some cookies. My German
wasn't very good, but I was trying really hard. In German I said,
'Thank you for ...' but I couldn't remember the word for 'cookies',
so I used an English word; 'gift.' I said, 'Danke fur die gift.'
I forgot that 'gift' has a different meaning in German. I had thanked
the lady for 'the poison!'
learnt that if you are learning about a language and a culture you
have to be able to laugh at yourself. You will make many mistakes.
It's all part of life's rich tapestry.