Idiosyncrasies… in the Maldives

An amazing thing happened today. While Jerome and I were helping with some swimming classes at 6.30AM, three old men took a poo in the sea right next to us. The turds floated down to us and we had all the kids screaming “EEEEEWWWW A POOOOOOOOO” which was hilarious, but it set in motion the wheels and cogs of my mind: why are they pooing in the sea?

Such a question surely merits further thought. What are the facts of the matter? We know that these three old men come every morning at about 6.30AM to the same spot on the beach; they walk into the sea until they are neck-high in the water and just stand there for about half an hour. They never seem to be saying much, perhaps engrossed on passing their stools, but they seem to be completely at ease in whatever they are doing. Do they realise that their poo floats? Do they deliberately stand in that particular spot so that their poo is on a collision course with the children being taught to swim by foreigners? Is it therefore a political statement? Or is it just that they genuinely don’t give a toss?

It’s probably the last of those reasons. They seem to know wagwan when it comes to this sea defecation process. It doesn’t seem to be that different from the custom in China where parents allow their toddlers to open their dump-gates on the floor in public. Apart from the obvious hygiene issues, it can only be our own prejudices which  lead us to say “EEEEWWWW”, we should just say “all right, do a poo in the sea, no biggie.”

There are a few other things you just have to accept as a given. You might remember my post about Maldivian restaurants; well this time the incomprehension of the waiters has taken on another level. It is a given that at least one in two orders will not be taken down correctly and sometimes “hello” or “great, thanks” warrants being brought a dish someone thought you have ordered. Since all of the waiters are from Bangladesh, they even have some problem communicating with the locals; so on the upside, going to a restaurant could definitely be seen as a culinary experience which demands you enhance your communication skills. In this way, going to Maldivian restaurants definitely makes you a better person. I have taken to pronouncing foods in a bangladeshi accent, which I’ve had some joy with, see the following:

There are lots of flies = Dere are loss of plies.

Can I have water = Can I ave woda

Do you have boiled vegetables = Dooo yoouuu ave boiled bejetubbles?

Can I see the menu = Book of food please.

Thirdly, there are some other services which you can only enjoy if you accept how ridiculous certain aspects of them are. We revisited “Jingles Salon” today, much to the delight of the Bangladeshi, Jingle. I had warned of brisk shaving, tactile face rubbing and absolute hair moistening, but the customer could not be deterred. Jerome got a sharp trim, but again was puzzled when he got ushered into the next room to get his hair washed after it had been cut. Then, as I predicted, the back rubbing followed a thorough greasing up of the hair, and much like myself, Jerome was left bewildered, but content. We are both astonished at the value of the haircut and massage (£1.50) and may I add that I deliberately abstained from cutting my hair in England so that I could return to the tried and tested Jingle’s technique. It may not be traditional, but it’s good fun.

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