My my how time flies! One year ago I was writing to say I was leaving to India for a fellowship, and now here I am abroad, not sitting in a cute little café and drinking a cappuccino, but actually about to return to the states with a baby on one hip and four babies on the other hip. Or is it five? I don’t really remember, but I guess however many I get through airport security with is how many I’ll bring to the homeless shelter with me.
I just stopped over to visit a friend in Italy for a few days and will then return to the good ol’ USA. Hey, come on—I’m pretty nearby and need to pack on an extra few before I return home so everyone believes the bit about the pregnancies. Anyhow, Malta was good to me. I realized that no matter where in the world I am, friends and strangers alike offer their kindness, learning experiences, and adventures within every walk of life. And how does one meet these people, you ask? I’ve found that networking, a term which I used to hate, has come in so very handy with meeting people—even people on the small island of Malta. As you should know by now, I simply love standing around in a fancy-schmancy atmoshphere, awkwardly “connecting” and noshing on awkward things like chips and dips, fondue, and hummus in order to explain to fellow unemployed people how we can pretend to be of use to each other. My remedy? I went out into the real world for mini sessions of “Coop’s Networking Nightz on the Streetz.” Here then are bits of these conversations so that you, the viewer, can understand how to network while abroad.
Street Scene 1: The donut truck man parked on the street
Man: You want some donuts?
Me: Hmm…well they do look pretty good…but I
Man: No, you really don’t look like you need them. You really don’t.
Street Scene 2: Inside a small corner shop
Random Maltese Woman: Hello–where are you from?
Me: I’m from the USA.
RMW: Oh, America! What do you think of our country?
Me: Well it’s very beautiful and many peope are friendly.
RMW: America is a big country, yes? And you people make lots of movies and are loud I think.
Me: Well yes, Malta is very tiny compared to America, and yes, we tend to be somewhat loud p—
Interrupting American: DO YOU HAVE ANY HEINEKEN 6 PACKS?
RMW: No, but we have Cisk. You know, Maltese beer.
IA: NO I WANTED HEINEKEN AND I CAN’T FIND IT ANYWHERE. HOLD ON, SOMEONE’S CALLING ME. HELLO? OH COME ON JUST [door slams shut].
Me: I’m sorry.
RMW: Don’t act all innocent. I’ve heard your cackle.
Street Scene 3: Along the promenade, speaking with a first-time scuba diving customer
Me: Hi there, and what do you do?
Guy: I’m a magician.
Me: Oh, awesome! You do stage magic or i—wait, how come I’m no longer wearing any clothes?
Street Scene 4: Walking on the streets of Gozo
Voice: (From behind. Husky-ish.) Hullo Kuh-thryn.
Me: (turning around) Hello, how a—NO! NO I WILL NOT SPEAK WITH YOU AGAIN. THERE’S NO WAY YOU FOUND ME YET AGAIN ON THIS ISLAND. STALK SOMEONE YOUR OWN AGE AND PLEASE, I ALREADY MADE YOU A CELEBRITY ON LAST MONTH’S POST. DON’T OVERFLOW INTO THIS POST TOO.
Same creepy old 4-foot-tall man: Hey there, hey, hi, hi you. We’re going to be all right. All right. Yeah.
Me: (Audibly shudders)
Street Scene 5: Couple giving me a ride.
Couple: Are you on holiday here?
Me: No, I’m working here for a scuba diving guide on Malta & Gozo.
Couple: Very nice! We’re on vacation.
Me: (confused since they sound Maltese) From…?
Couple: From Floriana! (near the nation’s capital, approximately 30 minutes away)
Me: So you come here on vacation. Er, holiday.
Couple: Yes, when it’s the weekend or we need to relax, we come here.
Me: Ah. I see. Well that’s close by! Do you ever travel…abroad?
Couple: Sometimes we go to Gozo!
Me: Ah. Mhmm. What about…to other countries?
Couple: Our friend once took the ferry…to ITALY! Wow!
Me: And I thought Maltese peeps didn’t get out much!
Street Scene 6: On the street, innocently waiting for the bus
Random Nigerian Man: How are YOU?
Me: Uh, I’m fine, thanks.
RNM: My name is !Xobile. Are you married?
Me: Well you skipped over quite the courtship period, now didn’t you?
RNM: I would like to invite you to marry me and be my 6th wife.
Me: I’m flattered, really. Under more normal cir—
RNM: Boom! Married.
I’ll be back in the U.S. in just a matter of days. I assume it’ll be the usual: Jet-lagged sleep; the eating of brownies, cookies, processed food, and cheap Chinese food; seeing friends; doctor’s appointment; enjoying consistent hot showers; not having folks stare; job hunting; and gchatting with my newest Nigerian prince. Until Italy and the end-of-the-year’s Best Of 2012 list, I’m out!
[Photos: Unedited goodies from the isands of Gozo and Northwestern Malta]
[click above to see multiple photos in one go]