Friday, November 26, 2010

A Movie And Culture Shock In Reverse

[Belated post]

With one extra day in the city of Accra many of the volunteers felt it was a good idea to get in some shopping and a movie. Harry Potter was just released and about half or our group wanted to see it, me included. After a brief excursion to try and locate a guitar in the city (fruitless), I and another volunteer visited the Accra Mall to meet up with the other volunteers to see the 4:30 showing. The movie was a great deal of fun and it made you feel like you were back in America for just a sliver of time as the seats and the theater were brand new and the popcorn was tasty (they asked if I wanted the popcorn flavored – the two options were salt or sugar and since I couldn't even grasp the concept of sugar as a topping for popcorn I said salt before I realized what she suggested as the second choice). Since the timing of the movie's release worked out very well for our trip to the capital for Thanksgiving I am really hoping they choose to release the next movie at this time in 2011. Who knows when it will come out though.

The mall itself was absolutely identical to any your would find in America and it has become an attraction for most of the foreigners who live in the city where they do their shopping for goods that one just doesn't find in the regular markets around town. There is an Apple store there as well as many fashion places and jewelry stores. You would hardly know you were not in America in fact. I toured the Shoprite store there and as I walked around the aisles I had this strange feeling of unease. Each item passed by and I felt like I was in the wrong place. Even after a short time in the small towns and markets I am quite used to seeing the tiny shops and open air sellers carrying large baskets of goods on their heads that that has become a norm for my eyes and brain. Here I was back to America and everything has a bar code affixed to it. Everything is for sale and the items are all familiar.

What was worse was meeting up at a club with the friends who let me stay in their house while in Accra. The friends were great, but the atmosphere was completely wrong. I was wearing my sandals that I had made for me by a cobbler in Hohoe and when I walked to the front door of the club the guard (yes, a guard dressed in all black who lifted weights) stopped me and said I couldn't go in. No sandals allowed after 7PM. It irritated me to know end that they would have silly, asinine fashion rules that smacked of Americana to me. Worse, the sandals which I really like made me feel more Ghanaian and here they were preventing me from entering a snobby bar. The guard realized I wasn't from around the area and let me in anyway with the warning of, “just this once guy,” and I found my party.

Looking around it was obvious that anyone who was here was looking their best to attract attention. High heels, tight outfits, jackets worn over black short-sleeve shirts to look ulta-cool. It was unpleasant to say the least and we did our best to excuse ourselves from the place in about a half-hour. It was a rather strange experience and I think one I will be familiar with when I end my stay here and head back to the states. I will miss certain things from Ghana and get quite comfortable with certain luxury items in America (think drive-through McDonald's) after a bit, but the first few days back will be quite odd.

The movie was great, the friends I saw were wonderful, but I wanted back to Hohoe more than a I realized by the end of the night.

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