Tropical Fish

Just finished reading Doreen Baingana’s fab collection, Tropical Fish:Stories Out of Entebbe. I was inspired to grab it off the shelf after hearing about my brother’s recent houseguests from Uganda. I enjoyed the whole book, but I could especially relate to the last two stories, “Lost in Los Angeles,” in which an expat tries to figure out what she’s doing in another country, and “Questions of Home,” in which the same woman goes back to her own country after a long absence and finds that she no longer fits in. After 17 (or is it 18?) years in Japan, I still find myself committing gaffes. Just a couple days ago, while serving lunch at Lilia’s school, another mother (the teki-paki nurse who smokes in front of her asthmatic child) told me that I should never heap rice in the bowl because that is how rice is offered to the dead. Also, my mother-in-law informed me that one does not keep one’s broom in the entryway! It’s bad form! Who knew?

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