Monday, 21 December 2009

A very, very short one

A neighbour stopped by today. The one I dislike. I really dislike him. When we first met, he kept asking how and where I had learned English so well. I thought he sounded incredibly patronising. Husband explained that he is a old teacher. They all sound a bit like that, so I should not take offence. But I remained unconvinced.

Today, he wanted to let me know they would be away for Christmas. So that we would keep an eye on his house. I told him we would also be away, for a few days.

-Why don’t you ask Cathy?- I said, referring to our mutual neighbour.

-Who?- He leaned his head to one side, his lips stretched over his teeth in a fake smile.
- Cathy- I repeated.
-Kat-iya?- He asked, smiling.
- No- I said patiently, feeling like the Indian lady in Little Britain- Ca-thy.

He looked puzzled.

Cathy- I repeated.

Oh, Ca-thy!- he said, screwing his face up a little- I thought you said Kati-ya.

I smiled back.

-It is because you expected me to say Kat-i-a- I said.

He just kept smiling. I really, really dislike him.


  1. OMG he sounds like Marjorie from the Fat Fighters (Little Britain):

    Marjorie: ''What advice can we give to Babara, to turn her tragic life around?
    Indian woman: '' Instead of sugar, use artificial sweetener in tea''
    Marjorie: ''Something about sugar''

  2. I was asked once if I liked Borat, I told no and reason I named was because I disliked such humour it was not my kind of thing and that I enjoyed Sacha Baron Cohen more as Ali G than as Borat. And guess what the person's reply was loool : '' Oh I completely understand, it kinda offends your culture?'' You should have seen my face Scary Azeri hahaha!

  3. I know the type and I really dislike it too. Since I work in a global company, this kind of crap hardly ever happens to me at work. And my husband’s parents, being amazingly civilized WASPs that they are, never ever made me feel like a foreign extraction. There are only two people I know who are like that guy. They think they are very hip and cool because they sometimes eat at the ethnic restaurants and travelled abroad once or twice. They often interrupt me in a mid-sentence, laugh and say something like “how does she know that?” I feel like a monkey at the Zoo. And the worst part is that I don’t think they even know how patronizing & rude they are. They probably think they are paying me a compliment. Chushki daaa :)

  4. Bless. I get that a lot. So frustrating. And that face they pul while "trying" to undertand. Patronizing. Arghh! Merry Christmas hun xx

  5. @Nata: How annoying!!!! I would hate that. I know exactly what you mean.
    @ Sabina: Well, I had mixed feelings about the Borat movie too...But I watched it again and liked it, I have to say. I think the important bit in his humor is that he does not discriminate. :) He insults everyone. A bit like South Park. So yes, I felt some of his jokes were perhaps, unfair, because I felt he was laughing at people's misfortune and poverty rather than their personal characteristics, if it makes sense. I felt funny about that. But he also laughed at a lot of things I found very funny, personally. so...I am OK with it overall. :)

  6. "It's because you expected me to say Ka-t-ia, I said"
    That's it exactly, you hit the nail on the head. Well done.

  7. Why all this passive-aggressive stuff? It would be more fun to bring it all out into open warfare. You could plot ways to embarrass and humiliate him in the village and drive him to an early grave. Or at least to another village where he could annoy other people.

    Biggest bonus would be that we could read about your battles in weekly blog instalments.

  8. I can’t think of any clever comebacks though. It would be nice to put them back into their place without any serious unpleasantness.

  9. As someone who lives in the same place of birth, I haven't experienced all the things you share here with us. But I can understand how bad can a man like this one made you feel. And he has been a teacher...
    Hopefully, not everyone is like him.

  10. Nata, perhaps you should do the same to them when they start talking about their "foreign" experience and make them feel like real rednecks :)

    I once had an extremely well-treveled and professionally successful American colleague invite me and my Armenian coworker to a party at his house and, when we sat down for dinner, he asked the two of us to talk more about our life since the rest of our colleagues knew so little about us, their international friends. Talk about the monkey at the Zoo experience. He probably did not even realize that's how he made me feel but I really resented it, even though I did not show it. The funniest part was when his Dutch wife asked me why I chose to join my American husband in the US and not the other way around. I said there was little for him to do in Azerbaijan work-wise. I wanted to ask her the same questions but then decided to be polite and did not.

  11. Marianna,
    Hmm...this actually is a tricky one. Because, it is quite difficult to find the right balance between ignoring your background and culture altogether, and making you feel like "a monkey in a Zoo". I know exactly what you mean, however, I also think it is nice when people are genuienly! (the focus here is on the word 'genuienly' :)) interested in your background. Because, if they dont give a *** it can also be quite frustrating, don't you find?

  12. Yes, genuinely is the key word.

    I am thinking that may be some of us (myself included) are somewhat self-conscious about our accents, our backgrounds, etc. Not always, but sometimes?

    It is also funny how people sometimes assume things about your country or yourself without knowing much about where you are coming from. I am always asked here in Texas how we celebrated Christmas back at home. Well, I said, we did not celebrate Christmas because ours was not a traditionally (historically) Christian country, even more so, I was raised an atheist. You could see people get kind of uncomfortable hearing this... Funny...

  13. I have been in somewhat similar situations,and very often to make people understand how patronizing they sound, I switch to my native tongue. Then, it is fun to see the helpless and puzzled look on their faces:-) Works quite well. Usually they immediately realize their mistake!

  14. I had a boss like that. Can you imagine?
    Some day I called to some office to let them know we are coming to verify something on site. Secretary's response was: Are you sure? This is first time I hear we repair something in our building.
    When I told him about that his answer was: You just scared her with you Russian accent!
    I heard this type of things from him many times. Finally I told him: You know, I think you have a problem with a fact that I am foreign.
    Oh! this time he was scared. Really scared. He apologized. But I found another job pretty soon anyway.

  15. I had a couple of russian young women staying with us for a week a few years back. We volunteered to host them as a part of some business exchange project, and once when we strolled down the road in our provincial southern town, a neighbor walking her dog greeted us and I introduced the Russian girls to her. She asked a few questions with typical provincial curiosity and a fake politness and then made the most outrageous comment, something like "it's going to be very hard for you to go back to Russia after having visited the US, isn't it?" The girls were disgusted at such an arrogant attitude. Yet I find the same thing, the same patronizing attitude towards foreigners in my home country, and in Russia and I guess in many other places. Here in US it's much more obvious in rural areas, where many people haven't been outside their own state, leave alone overseas. The more ignorant people are, the more arrogant and patronizing is their attitude.
    Happy holidays, s nastupayuschim!!!

  16. Sevda,you are right: the more ignorant people are,the more.....Never mind,just ignore them :-)Happy Holidays,Happy New 2010!

  17. That's really annoying. I know what you mean. Sometimes I misunderstand people because I expect them to say something at a certain time or a certain way, because it's how my brain is programmed. It's the English that I'm used to. I've had to work at getting over that living abroad. Language patterns are different here. Then there's the accent.

    The way you describe it though I think this guy was just doing it to get on your nerves.