What exactly is going on here? I am sitting next to a lady from the Padang hill tribe, the so-called “long necks”. Actually, she invited me to sit down beside her and to be honest she was sitting too close to me for my physical comfort. That’s a purely cultural thing. The lady, whose name I never found out, was pleasant in every way; she had a lovely natural, clean smell and her breath had a slightly pepperminty scent.
We communicated via sign language for only a few moments and in that time we learned how old the other one was and how many children we each had. She also managed to let me know that the bonny baby on her eight year-old daughter’s lap was a neighbour’s child. The girl was concerned that the baby’s dress kept slipping up to reveal a naked bottom, which made us all laugh.
The padang lady obviously wanted to sell the scarves that the women of this tribe weave, but I was not interested and have long since stopped buying articles I don’t want. Nevertheless, even when she realised that I was no potential customer, she kept the communication going and appeared genuinely pleased to be doing so. We were just two ordinary women having a chat.
Communication is a wonderful thing and communication with peoples from other cultures desirable and valuable. It gives a wholesome meaning our journeys abroad.