Today I got to meet up with my ESL conversation parter again to chat about humor, our weeks, and the differences between our cultures and lifestyles. Today we focused a lot on the different aspects of humor within the United States and Saudi Arabia. The way that Nasser explained it to me, it sounds like our humor is relatable in a few different ways.
He explained to me that the play on words is a widely used form of humor in Saudi Arabia, and that he finds those types of jokes in America humorous and interesting. He explained to me that learning the different uses of the same words was not difficult, but is actually interesting to him instead. Additionally, Nasser told me that for many of the jokes that the Saudi's tell, they make fun of themselves and put themselves as the butt of the joke. As we have seen in a few of our in-class presentations on the humor around the world, it is a common theme to put oneself as the butt of the joke. Sometimes, it's just easier to make fun of yourself; it tears down the barriers of vulnerability.
As we continued to talk, he explained to me that he does not celebrate birthdays in his country; apparently, the celebration of birth is not as big of a deal compared to here in the United States where we go above and beyond to celebrate the anniversary of you popping out of the womb. As his story continued, he told me that he helped an America friend celebrate her birthday this weekend and he was a little confused by the whole idea. When I tried to explain the concept of a birthday, I caught myself sounding really stupid and not really able to describe why we do what we do. But really, why do we celebrate a birthday? Yes, it's great to have a day when all of the attention is on you, but it is a weird concept if you really think about it. Regardless, he was entertained by the fact that we commemorate a day solely to one person just because they were welcoming into the world however many years ago.
Nasser went down to the Stockyards this weekend and had dinner at a BBQ restaurant. Needless to say, he was dumbfounded. He was amazed at the amount of meat that was placed in front of him, and how we as Americans practically celebrate the art of eating, and take it to a whole new level. And I agree, I think everything we as Americans do is blown up to a weird level of exaggeration and obsession. He did enjoy the dinner, he did admit, but he still could not get over how "big" America, and especially Texas makes things out to be. Welcome to Texas!
Nassar also told me about his experience while attending the rodeo here in Fort Worth. He explained that he thought it was a very weird and violent concept, but he enjoyed seeing the animals and riding the rides. He told me that in Saudi Arabia they have festivals with animals, similar to the rodeo, but with camels and horses instead. A well-celebtrated tradition is the racing of Arabian hordes, which I found to be interesting!
The last topic we touched on today was the idea of numbers. He explained to me that in Saudi Arabia, they say their numbers backwards compared to the way we speak. He compared this way of speaking to Spanish. I can speak a little bit of Spanish coming from New Mexico, so I easily understood what he was trying to say. I kept asking him if it was difficult for him to learn a whole new set of numbers, ordering, letters, etc. and he continuously responded with "no, it's simple." It is apparent to me that Nasser is intelligent and eager to learn. I have really enjoyed having these conversations with him and we have already set up our next meeting time.
until our next laugh,