My girlfriend and I went to an Ethiopian festival in the park near our house last week. As we stopped on our walk around one lap of the festival we remarked we were probably one of 5 people who weren’t Ethiopian or at least had a strong connection to the culture.
At that moment, a young couple approached us and started a conversation.
But we were standing near huge speakers, that were playing loud reggae music so I only made out:
“)%*^(&(&…Saviour….&(^(&O@R. ..Jesus…(&*%%*^He’s the ONE”.
Yeah, I thought I knew where this was going. Sure enough after the young guy handed me a religious pamphlet, it was clear.
I thought I’d have a short chat anyway.
He said he was Ethiopian, born into the church and described being religious was like having good news you can’t wait to tell someone.
Fair enough, I understand the feeling of having “good news” you want to tell someone. But, I thought, to feel like that all the time, must be exhausting.
Like being a paperboy without enough houses to deliver to.
He then asked me in a lull between songs:
“Have you tried Ethiopian food”, pointing to the food stands behind him.
I replied just as the music started up again:
“Yes, I have, but I’m by no means a professional”.
Immediately he and the girl he was with looked at me with concern and started apologizing:
“I’m so sorry. The food can be undercooked at these kinds of things. It’s hard to pull off. I’m really sorry”.
I thought it was strange they were suddenly apologizing, but went along with it:
“No worries. That’s okay. I like Ethiopian food.”
After some more stilted conversation we broke off, walked towards the food stands and as soon as we were out of earshot, my girlfriend said:
“Do you know what they think you said to them?”.
“Yeah, what was that about. The apologizing”
“When they asked if you had Ethiopian food. I think they heard:
Yes, but it’s not professional by any means
In their minds, I walked into their cultural festival, toured the premises once, slagged off their national food to their face and walked away from them, straight towards the food stands again to do what? – Also tell the people working the food stands their cuisine is unprofessional?
Akward humour: 1 International diplomacy: 0