Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Weighing In

A lot of volunteers actually put on weight during their service. In the Peace Corps we cleverly call it the "Peace Corps 15." It is very similar to the "Freshman 15" in college. We are away from home, eating different foods, and are at times stressed and emotional.

Luckily, I have been able to avoid gaining excess weight, and actually have lost a bit. When I left for Botswana, I was around 195 pounds. I weighed myself today just out of curiosity and I am 85 kilos (187 pounds). A few people who were nearby commented that 85 was too much for me and I should eat less. This is not the first time I have been called overweight here.

For example, here is a conversation I had last week at my office:

Her: Eish Daniel. You must give me your relatives' address back in America.

Me: (I give a confused look) And why do you need that?

Her: Because you are getting fat. I am going to write them and tell them to stop sending you so many packages with sweets in them. (Whenever I get sweets or candy in the mail, I generally share some with the people at my center. It has been a big hit with the staff and it keeps me from eating it all in one sitting).

Me: I actually don't get that many sweets and I don't eat too much either.

Her: Well you should eat less. You have gained weight, especially in your face.

I tried to explain that I had actually lost weight but she wouldn't hear it.

And here is another conversation I had about a month ago:

Her: Mopati, o kima! (Mopati you are fat).

Me: I am not fat. I am losing weight here. I think I am too skinny.

Her. (Laughing) No, you have fatted in the last weeks. (Sometimes people here turn nouns into verbs. Fatted might be my new favorite.)

This is another interesting "clash of culture" that I have experienced. Talking about weight or being overweight isn't rude and it is talked about openly (even if the person commenting on your weight weighs more than you do).