...offered by Dn. James Ferrenberg, a sinner at 6:54 AM [+]
So I'm talking to Isma (my friend first and driver second) as we were running some errands (i.e. Beer Run) and I mentioned that I recognized the road as being where the fancy Indian restaurant Khana Khazana is found (I get excited when the chaos of Kampala roads begin to have a recognition effect on me), he smiled and congratulated me - sometimes I'm very much like his student in this regard and he seemed genuinely pleased that I had gotten the answer right. Anyway, he then asked me if I had been there recently and I replied that just last Sunday we were there. Now, this place is pretty awesome, expensive by Ugandan standards, but not too bad when you've just exchanged US dollars. I think my meal that night cost me $17.00 including a couple of beers...but the atmosphere, service, and decor of KK is largely beyond any place I could ever frequent back home.
I confided in him that in America I would NEVER be able to afford to go to a restaurant like that, it would be at least two to three times as expensive as what I pay here. He kindly reminded me that for most Ugandans, what we Muzungus pay here is two to three times more than most Ugandans could afford...and then he wondered aloud how it is we eat out so much.
"Well," I said, "here I am not spending my money...so it is easy. But back home we try not to eat out much because it is so expensive."
"American's eat out a lot, yes?" He asked. Actually I'm not entirely convinced it wasn't a statement.
I told him I thought that they generally do eat out frequently, especially since in so many families both parents work. I also told him about the time that my wife and I first used a computer banking program that kept track of categories of our spending, and how shocked we were to see that next to rent our BIGGEST expenditure was "eating out." And we STILL had a big grocery bill to go along side it.
I think he was unimpressed that food (eating out or otherwise) took up the biggest chunk of our budget (no news for Ugandans I guess), but he was interested in two income families.
"So if wives stay home, do they cook?" he bravely asked having no idea what sort of feminist hornet's nest he was fast approaching, "because it is so much cheaper to eat at home. Maybe they would not have to work outside if they cooked at home."
I started laughing...trying to think of how much trouble this poor man would be in if he said something like this back home. And yet I did not wish to insult him and so tried to explain modern American woman's ideas of careers and "self-worth" and....it wasn't going anywhere with him I could tell. Hey, I'm in HIS country...where I expect working wives must still cook at home. I'm intent on talking to him more about two income families in Uganda....how common it is and what not.
Eventually I was able to say: "Oh yes, my wife cooks a lot. Even bakes her own bread."
"Really?!?!" He smiled widely, clearly amazed (another American woman stereotype breaking moment) "Your wife must be a very good woman."
Now, if you reckon I'm going to argue for the sake of all American women, you reckon wrong.
All of this said...I think we all know that Americans spend a TREMENDOUS amount of money on quick and easy (i.e. expensive) processed foods at home and on eating out. Taking some time to track the amount of money you spend eating out and figuring the fiscal benefit of slightly less quick and slightly less easy (and far more healthy) food isn't a bad idea...for many of you I expect it will blow your mind like it did (and sadly sometimes does) ours.
I hate to be an ongoing wet blanket, but I'll bet a good deal of chemotherapies here could be purchased with the money we could save.
This here woman bakes own bread...makes own yogurt...cooks beans from scratch...teaches own kids...but we don't have chickens. I guess your wife still wins. ;-)
hehe...I haven't the authority to deny my wife's exceptional status to anyone...so, there are many exceptional woman in America...but...well you know.