Communication is Dead



"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place." ~George Bernard Shaw


A few weeks ago, Woody went to into our host mom's house to “top up” electricity on our meter box. The conversation that proceeded went a bit like the old vaudeville joke by Abbott and Costello “Who's on First?” Here is the conversation that occurred between Woody and our host mom:


Host mom: Do you have film? “Ni vone kamareni” I saw it in the bedroom.

Woody: “U lava film yini?” What kind of film do you want?

Host mom: “Papayi.”

Woody: “Yini??. . . Papayi? Papayi?. . .I don't know Papayi.”

Host mom: “Papayi, Papayi, you know. . . Papayi!!”


Our host mom thought this conversation was hysterical and soon told me all about it. It turns out that she was asking for “Popeye.”  Popeye is the general word that people use here in South Africa to refer to cartoons. Because she had very THOROUGHLY cleaned our house about a month ago while we were away on vacation, she now knows everything we own... So, she knew that we had some cartoon DVDs given to us by another volunteer. The best part of this story is that “Popeye” is also what they call cartoons in Kuwait where Woody grew up. So of anyone, he really should have known what she was talking about. Oy...


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“Sunset at the Railroad” by PCV Nicholas Baylor Hall. Namibia, 2011.