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11/19/17

Grace

Rural folk have an innate grace that city folk like me lack. Jeffrey, a local friend, helped me with some things yesterday afternoon that I would not have been able to do myself.

I have learned in these months on the island that offering people cash like we do in the US is a big no no. There is nothing more embarrassing than holding out money like we do in America and the intended recipient smiling and saying gently, "There is no need for that."

So yesterday I agonized over what to give Jeffrey. Of course I could have just let him help me and let that be the end of the matter. But I didn't. In the past my go to present has been cake. Really. Filipinos, like Indians, love love love cake. I am a rather helpless foreigner in their midst and I need a lot of favors.

So I was on a roll with handing out cake until I realized I was overdoing it. I was pushing on their inherent politeness when I was producing yet another cake for my many helpers. So as I say, I agonized over what to get Jeffrey. Then suddenly in great self-congratulation for my brilliantness I had it: rice! I had bags of organic red rice from the neighboring farm. I would give him one!

When I gave Jeffrey the bag of rice he seemed confused. What would you like me to do with it? he asked. Eat it! At that he smiled and actually bowed. I felt so good about myself I could have kissed him. I had figured it out, I knew what gifts to give my rural friends!

As he was leaving, with many gracious thanks, I casually asked him if he was used to eating red rice. Yes, he replied, that is what we grow on our family farm.

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