Travelling in the big world can easily make you feel alone and lost. And if you can’t even speak, or communicate, with the native people you will soon feel like you participate in a nightmare. This is exactly what Alex, Eileen and Suzanne experience in Eating Sugar, written by Catherine Merriman. Alex and Eileen are visiting their daughter Suzanne in Taiwan, where she is working as an English teacher. In order to experience “Amazing Thailand” as the billboards claims it in London, they go for a one-day trip to see a waterfall.
They enjoy it, but want to be there alone, without the other tourists. Suddenly when they are about to return for the city, they get lost in their way out of the jungle. Finding a bench, Alex decides to sit down and relax for a second. Eileen, the wife, gets more and more upset. Finally they meet some natives, and Suzanne tries to communicate with them. That’s quite a problem, since they speak really poor English. After all, one of the natives makes it clear that a car is going to come and pick them up. Eileen is worried and considering just to let them go.
Then Alex makes it clear, as the headmaster of the family that the best thing is to return with the natives before it gets dark. In line 34 we can read that Eileen is afraid to get lost, in Bangkok she daily said: “What if we got lost? ” Off course it is not nice to get lost, it makes you fell really bad. In the suburb where Suzanne lives nobody speaks English, so if Eileen actually gets lost, she will not be able to ask for way. She will be helpless, like a child. This is exactly the problem Alex, Eileen and Suzanne faces in the text. When they are lost in the jungle, Alex is the first to hear the natives.
Off course he doesn’t say hello in English, but instead using his body langue. Luckily the native man grins back to him. Later Suzanne tries to have a conversation with them. English has in relative short time gained enormous success around the world. It is definitely the most international language. So when we English speaking people visit places on earth, where nobody speaks English, it will make us afraid. Especially if you are in a stressed situation, like our family. Imagine Eating Sugar, just with one major change. The natives were able to speak English. It would change the story radically.
It would make the story less dramatic, in the text misunderstandings appears often: (page 3, line 57: “What’s he trying to say? ” asked Alex and page 3, line 66: “Is he drunk? ” Eileen hissed to Alex). But even though, it would still be story about two cultures meeting. But a total different thing. Because it is important to understand, that if you want to learn another culture, the most important thing is to talk the language. It’s the basic tool, for opening op the cultural box. If you travel in the big world, far away from home, feeling helpless, then you are probably facing a cultural problem.
You don’t understand why they do as they do? Or why they always have to be late? Or maybe even worse, you don’t even understand them when they speak! That’s is exactly what Alex, Eileen and Suzanne faces in Eating Sugar. But if you ever find yourself in a cultural chaos, then remember one thing: observe, learn and do it yourself. Luckily the family does that, and acting like the natives, probably saved their lives. For the discussion part I have chosen A Small Place and Duane Hanson’s Tourists 2. Jamaica Kincaid’s postulate is that native does not like tourist.
Pointing out that natives envy the tourist’s ability to travel. Basically he’s saying that the natives would love to travel. It makes me think this way: Native people are sad people, and tourist people are happy. But it is more complicated, and I’m sure Duane Hanson will say I’m right. I believe that what she has made a sculpture of, is 2 tourists envying the native. It is not only curiosity feeding the tourists with energy. Imaging a country full of natives like Kincaid describes it, and then give them all enough money to travel. They still have a boring job, boredom, but once in a while they travel.
And when they travel, they are seeking something. The rush of travel. The rush you will never achieve. The feeling almost every Dane has tried to feel, looking at Denmark from airplane thinking: “wow, Denmark really is small. ” Or the rush you fell when you sit on top of your hotel, just looking at the city live. At the end of the day, this is what many tourists have become. Like Duane Hanson’s 2 persons in the picture. They look tired of traveling, but ready to save every possibly memory just giving them a tiny felling of the big world. The traveling rush.