Friday, December 2, 2011

Shiny Shirt!

Remember the game Slug Bug? Some people called it Punch Buggy, and I'm sure it went by other names as well, but the premise was always the same. As kids, whenever we would see a Volkswagen Beetle we would punch someone in the arm and yell "Slug Bug!" Here in Rwanda, we have started a similar game. We punch each other in the arms whenever we see someone wearing shiny clothes.

Rwandans love shiny synthetic fabrics. One of my most memorable moments with my host family was when we went out to eat and my brothers dressed up in their shiny yellow shirts. There is a photo of them floating around somewhere on my blog. When I saw them, I told my family that I liked them and that I wanted one for myself.

One day an umudozi (tailor) showed up at our house and took my measurements, as well as those of my brothers. A little more than a week later, my very own shiny red shirt and shiny grey pants appeared, custom made for the equivalent of 20 USD - paid for by the American tax payers, of course. The best part about it is that my two brothers got the same exact outfit. Now that's integration! Hopefully I will get a photo soon so that the world can see how ridiculous I look.

Apparently my shiny shirt was supposed to come with a breast pocket on it, so my family told me to give it to them this morning so that they could take it back to the umudozi and have it sewn on. Now, I have noticed that young Rwandan men tend to wear their clothes baggy. I like my clothes to fit, especially if I am paying for them to be custom tailored. So since my shirt was going back anyway, I informed my family that my pants also needed to be altered because they were way too big on me - by at least a couple of inches around the waist. But my pants did not get altered...

In Rwanda, it is a compliment to tell a girl that she is big. Men strive to grow a pot belly. The size of one's waist line is evidence of their wealth. My family told me that my pants are baggy so that I can grow into them. "One day you will be fat," they said. In a way, I can see how a young man wearing baggy clothes is like wishing to become fat, which is essentially wishing for wealth in this country.

Now I just need to figure out the reasoning behind my pants being so long, too. I don't think I'm going to be growing two inches taller, although it would be nice!

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