Friday, 4 April 2008

The woman sitting next to me

I had to wait a while in the Health centre for my turn. Since I'm on fieldwork I use every opportunity to know the opinion of people and can't leave the "ethnographic approach" behind in any circumstance. My basically misanthropic outlook is being transmuted into the ethnographic mode. Summing up: I found out a lot regarding the worldview of the woman sitting next to me while we were waiting for our turn.

She said "I know the numbers", but she doesn't like to travel with the lift because then she gets really confused and doesn't know which button to press. With other words: she isn't confident enough with her capacity of reading and understanding numbers for being able to travel with the lift. I had never thought about this before: as an analphabet everything is so difficult!...

Some English people were sitting in the room as well and talking English. The woman turned to me to say "When these people talk it sounds like barking dogs". What should I say to this sympathic point?! "But you are a foreigner as well, right?" she proceeded. "...Well yes." (It's really comforting to be called foreigner in the country where you've been growing up!). Then she wanted to know where I came from and when she knew, she very produly said 2 German words which I barely recognized. But I made a huge effort to recognize them and tell her the meaning in Portuguese. She was so proud when I asked her if she had been to Germany... But no. She has no intentions to go abroad, she has no interest at all in other countries or other towns because the only good place to be is her hometown anyways.

Suddenly she turned to me and asked me whether I had a Portuguese passport. I don't; I have the allowance of residence and since we are in the EU I wouldn't need it anyways. But she knew better: "they will jail you" she said. "They will jail you!" she said with a triumphant smile ...and I turned my face and continued reading.

No comments: