Sunday, January 26, 2014

You, you, you!


Those two innocent looking faces followed me around from the time I got out of the car to the time I got back in!

T
he Ethiopian Swarm. Everywhere we went, in the Omo Valley, we were absolutely mobbed by people - mostly kids.  To get your attention, they would often shout, "You, you, you" or sometimes, in my case, it was *You, you, you, China* or sometimes *You, faranji*.  Faranji means *foreigner*.

Other times, they would tug at your shirt or else take a few of their fingers and pull against the skin of your underarm.  They would keep it up until  you either looked at them or in my case, ignore them. 

The bolder ones would just boldly ask for birr, or savon (soap) or pen or plastic (bottle) and they would repeatedly ask.   If nothing, they are persistent!  I even got a few requests for t-shirts and sometimes the shirt I happened to be wearing!  What's surprising is that we got the same tactics wherever we went so it's a curious how,  in particular, the *you, you, you* shout, began and made its way across the towns and villages.

At first, the attention grabbing antics are amusing but by the 3rd or 4th place you've visited, it starts to get annoying and you wonder if your patience will hold.  Eventually you reach the boiling point but you also realize you can't get mad at them.  They are poor and unfortunately, these are their attempts to get a hand out.  So, instead of getting angry, I just hit back, metaphorically speaking.  I started to mimic them so whatever they shouted out to me, I would repeat right back at them.  If they did it again, so would I!

Hearing *You, you, you* over and over again, multiple times each day, was like listening to the same song constantly replay on the radio.  It quickly got stuck in my head and I think it's there to stay!