Culture


Apparently sometime in the past two years (since I packed up my backpack and left the US), the term “hipster” became popular. I had never heard it before I left and since returning I’ve heard this term used numerous times to describe people. I must have missed the whole hipster movement.

I’ve asked many people for a definition of the term, and I usually get a list of characteristics for an answer followed by, “You really just need to see one.”

So yesterday I was in the Mission in San Francisco, home of a large number of hipsters. We went to a park and I walked around the park playing a new game: hipster or not? You can play using the picture below.

We wandered off the highway to Laurel, Mississippi, just to see what a small town looked like. Driving through the downtown, we found this sign:

“Historic Downtown Laurel” was one of the most desolate and depressing places I have ever been. There were signs of people living there, but no signs of life. And the only places to shop or eat were those featured highway signs. Where have all the mom and pop shops gone?

The above picture was taken across from the University of Alabama’s football stadium in Tuscaloosa. The street was lined with beautiful buildings like the one in the picture. All of them are frat houses. If you look closely, you’ll notice that there are 7 to 8 guys in front of the house. They were all white, all wearing collared shirts and khaki shorts, and all tossing around a football. This scene was repeated in front of literally every frat house.

And yet a good portion of the players on the University of Alabama’s football team (which is the current Division 1 national champion, by the way) are black. I wonder where they fit in in this picture. Because driving around the rest of Tuscaloosa, most of the black neighborhoods looked like this:

This sidewalk shop in Boston sells Honest Tea on the honor system: take one tea and deposit US$1 in the cash box. I stood close to the shop and observed it for about 45 minutes. Everyone paid for their drink. It seems that telling people they’re on the honor system makes their conscience kick in. For most people, anyway. Honor codes at universities are based on this trust, and there’s pretty strong evidence that they work.

But I couldn’t help thinking that if such a shop was on the streets of Nairobi, everything would be stolen in an instant. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

I’m currently in Colorado, first to go on adventure in the mountains with a friend and second to attend IDDS.

I spent a bit of time in Colorado when I was younger, always in winter and always to ski. I was too young to really take note of the differences between Western and Eastern US culture. Now that I’m back and I’m older, these differences are more striking. Nearly everyone is into outdoor activities (running, biking, hiking, climbing), more people prefer organic food, most people have piercings or tattoos, and the vibe is much more laid back. Someone who is called a “hippie” on the East Coast is just normal here.

For the first time in quite a while, I’m in a place where nearly everyone is like me.

The people in this township were forced to leave their homes in the outskirts of Swakopmund, Namibia, and relocate to even farther out in the desert. After the move, they named their new community the DRC: the Democratically Relocated Community.

Even in the most unfortunate circumstances, they still maintained their sense of humor.

How to get laid in Africa, Chapter 5: How to get laid in Zambia

Before all Zambian women get married (which is pretty much the equivalent to getting laid), they must have a kitchen party.

Rule 1: No boys allowed. (Although in recent years, some men – usually family members – have been allowed to either play the drums or take photos.)

Rule 2: All guests must bring a gift. The gift must be a kitchen appliance.

Objective: To teach the bride-to-be “how to please her husband and be a good wife.”

All kitchen parties have an MC – a loud, funny woman who leads the whole event. She introduces the bride-to-be, who enters veiled after all the guests have arrived. She then presents all of the gifts, one by one, and describes and/or demonstrates how to use them (usually in humorous ways) in order to please your husband. Of course she must then describe and/or demonstrate how to please your husband in ways that do not involve kitchen appliances. Some MCs are more sexually explicit than others.

Guests then come up front, tie wraps around their waist, and dance for the bride. Sometimes they do this when presenting their gifts.

During the dancing, other women cheer loudly. The typical cheering sound is a high-pitched yell that vibrates as the women move the tips of their tongues – positioned at the roofs of their mouths – back and forth.

At the end of the dancing, the dancers lie on the ground to say “thank you.”

This repeats until the bride has heard how to use all of her new kitchen tools, and how to please her husband in other ways than in the kitchen. Once your kitchen party is over, you’re ready to get married and get laid.

Previous chapters:
Chapter 1: How to get laid in Ethiopia
Chapter 2: How to get laid in Kenya
Chapter 3: How to get laid in Maasailand
Chapter 4: How to get laid in Malawi

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