You Think Funny

When I was a youngster, I had a small poster that had 2 cartoon characters (identical, if I recall correctly) facing each other.  In thought bubbles above each head were 2 different symbols.  Perhaps they were (*) and (#), but more likely they were 2 symbols that I can't reproduce on this keyboard. Underneath the characters, in big letters, was written "YOU THINK FUNNY!"

Cross-cultural living and communicating is really as much about adjusting to different ways of thinking as it is to diffrerent behaviors (we use a fork, they use chopsticks), and realizing that sometimes a person from another culture with whom you are interacting just thinks differently, which to you means they think funny (and vice versa).

Yesterday I wrote about the Chinese masseuse thinking that my backache was caused by too much cold.

Today I had another reminder of that same pattern of thinking, when I saw a friend I hadn't seen for a couple of weeks.  We normally connect on Sundays for lunch, but last week she'd sent a text telling me that she was sick with la duzi (diarrhea), so we couldn't get together.

When I saw her this afternoon I asked her how she was feeling — if she was all better.  She said yes, then proceeded to describe for me just how bad it was last week (I'll spare you the details).

I asked her if it had been caused by something she ate.  She gave me a funny look.

She said no, the problem was that her father-in-law kept the air-conditioning set too cold, and that's what caused her la duzi.  I gave her a funny look.

Clearly, to each of us, the other was thinking funny.