One of the more annoying yet amusing things they do here is point out the obvious. ‘You are back!’, ‘White man!’, ‘You are eating’. These are all statements people make when they see you, which add absolutely nothing. Also, they are very fond of remarking on physical appearances. If you aren’t black, you are called ‘white man’ as you are walking as if it is a greeting, or if you’ve put on weight they’ll say you look fat and that you must have eaten well. None of these things are said maliciously, but they can be vexing.

There is a young girl with a baby that sits out in front of my building every day and has a call box. A call box is a place you go and use someone’s cell phone for 100 franks a minute. It’s actually cheaper than using your own cell phone. Because her baby is still young she is still breast feeding, so often I’ll be walking by or using her phone and she’ll be breast feeding out in public. They do this even more normally than women do in the US.

One day, when I was feeling particularly integrated, I walked by and heard someone tell her ‘Tu a le grosse sein’. Translated in English he told her ‘She has the fat breasts.’

What makes this even more amusing is the way you say it in French. You have to specify that you are talking about ‘those’ fat breasts, she doesn’t have all the fat breasts, so you insert ‘the’ in front of the ‘fat breasts’.

I was sitting in my bed trying to get to sleep but just laughing out loud thinking about this particular example of how the French and English language just don’t match up.

Adding to the hilarity of it, is that in the Anglophone section of Cameroon, which is the part which was colonized by the British so they still speak English, the English they speak is more like translated French, so they really would say ‘You have the fat breasts.’