Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fear of Bamboo

Written by Coach

Have you ever struggled doing something that seemed so simple, so elementary that it drives you crazy each time you try....and fail? It could be anything from shuffling cards to executing a left-handed layup to rolling your "R's". I realize we all have them and most people do not look down on someone else if they cannot pull off such an easy, nay mundane task. I also realize that whenever it happens to me no one really cares...but me!

Before I explain where I am going with this I must tell you of the many fears that crept into my mind before we flew to Taiwan. Will it be safe for Ashley to walk by herself to get groceries? Will we ever taste the distictive "domesticated cuisine" that so many of our friends warned us about? Will we EVER learn any of the language? These are all valid fears that we could only find out the answers to once we arrived. I have to say that I am very pleased so far with the people, culture and cuisine. Everything seems so safe and pleasant so my biggest fears were not realized and adjusting to living here seems like it will be easier than we thought!

However there was one issue that I never really gave much thought while still living in Alabama. That issue definitely showed it's freaking ugly head on the very first night. It all started so well actually, Ashley and I met up with another teacher couple that knew there way around the city. We have a lot in common with them so the bus ride and the walk around downtown Taipei was great. After walking around the city awhile we agreed on a popular sushi place that they like to frequent. We decided to order about 4 plates of sushi and we would all share, good...sampling is the way I like it. This is where the story takes a harsh turn. When the first plate was brought out Ashley and our new friends start digging in. I, on the other hand, realized with horror that whenever chopsticks are put in my hand for some reason I transform into "Buster" the special needs chimp!

I did not panic at first. In fact as I recall I kind of played it off like it was the chopsticks fault. I think I did not panic because no one was really focused on me at first because the sushi was so dang good. But after several minutes of picking up and dropping sushi rolls I suddenly felt that the whole city put a halt on their busy little lives and agreed to all walk by and see the clumsy American on display. My emotions started to change very quickly. I went from frustration to horror to anger to rage. I think the last straw was when Ashley very calmly and quietly leaned over and said, (with some raw fish in her mouth that I am sure was delicious) "It's kind of a baptism by fire isnt it?" Now at this point it was all I could do to resist the urge to throw the chopsticks through the doorway to the restaurant and scoop the rest of the Japanese delicacy with my bare, southern hands and scarf them down in one gulp muttering under my breath, "I got your baptism right here" or something stupid like that. But as you recall we are dining with a nice couple that we have just met and I think that would possibly give out the wrong vibe.

Finally after what seemed like hours the couple took pity on me and asked the waitress for a fork so that I too could have some delicious sushi. Since that unforgetable night we have had several meals and I am SLOWLY making progress. It still frustrates me whenever I look around and people are actually having conversations with others while they eat. I am still totally consumed with this two little pieces of bamboo! So please keep me in your prayers. I feel very safe, the people here are great but I have a long way to go in mastering the art of dining in an Asian country.


Abbey said...

Aw, coach! DOn't let those people off easy!! Show 'em what you got!! I say throw the bamboo next time... you might as well come out honest from the shoot!
Oh no, wait... just play a round of Catch Phrase" with them. That ought to do it.
Y'all are the best. Love your honesty!
Keep up the good work... It's always a crap shoot for me, whether I can use those or not! And don't be deceived... it IS the bamboo's fault. :)

Lillie said...'s just a new weight loss program! You know that culture has the lowest obesity rate, now we know how they do it.

Matt said...

I miss you guys - Matt

Matt Virlee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alice Robbins said...

Chris, Keep going! Let me tell you, that being able to laugh at yourself and your failures makes it better! I have learned that only through humor are you able to really live in another country. It goes beyond survival! Don't worry, you will catch on to the chopstick thing.

I am praying for you two!

Give yourself TONS of grace with the language learning! I am learning that one too!


The Stinson Family said...

I can't use those darn things either. I gave up trying years ago, but I am not living in a country where "most" use them for every meal. I bet Ashley is loving this. :) Miss you guys!