2/22/06

" Aza mizesta, fa tsy lany commerce ": malagasy saying for "Don't be an a..and celebrate prematurely ! "

Malagasy people in general are known to be pretty low-key and laidback. As all generalities go, it is often wrong; there are as many loud jacka...back home as anywhere else in he world. Still, our proverbs and sayings generally focus on the importance of being patient, laying low and NOT taunt your own horn.
Very important for good ol' malagasy dudes !
Well, after living in the US for a while now, I got used to the fact that "being subdued" is really not a sought-after quality. If you aspire to do something of your life, you should say it loud and do what's necessary to attain your goals. In the words of Michael Douglas in Wall Street: "Greed is good" therefore it's recommended to proclaim during a job interview that you are the second coming of Zeus. ( I am kidding, Apollo will suffice).
Two different cultures, two different philosophies and quite frankly, I see the benefits of both perspectives.
On one hand, if you are too bashful or lack the self-confidence/drive to go after your dreams, they probably won't come anywhere near you. On the other hand, there is an exquisite equilibrium with your environment that come from minding your own business and laying low. Your quality of life is also greatly heightened by being considerate enough of your surroundings. There really is no need to cause unwarranted aggravation to anyone by reminding them how you are "all that and a bag of chips".
I am discussing all this because yesterday I was caught in an embarassing situation that the old me of 10 years ago would have laughed to no end. It was a rather meaningless basketball game between the 1st year students and the older guys at the University.
The game was close but I lost track of the exact score ( we were -2 with 10s. left). The strategy was to put up an early shot to have a chance to for a second try. We missed but I tip to a girl-teammate who drills the shot with 4s left. When the horn sounds, I lift my arms in the air, overjoiced over a hard-fought win. Or was it ? It turns out the game was tied and we were heading to overtime. OOOPS ! This explained why my teamates were rather subdued after the final buzz and embraced me with a weird look that said:" is he excited that we go to overtime or did he just found out that his tax refunds will exceed his paycheck ?". Anyway, we eventually lost which made my celebration even more foolish.
Ironically, a show on Tv listed the same night the most premature celebrations in sports history, ranging from the " the Band is on the field"- Cal-Stanford football game to Leon Lett dancing his way into the endzone only to be caught by some skinny guy and losing the ball ( see pics).
I am now part of sports infamous history, mazeltov !
The worst part is that this whole thing feels like bad karma. At 15, I was a skinny kid from Tana who thought that he could compete with the Malagasy from Paris in a tennis tournament in the county of Antony ( 15min from downtown Paris). The level of competition was pretty high as the prize -money was decent and the crowd rather dense, (a "who's who" of bored parisian/malagasy folks if you will). I crawled my way to the final by playing "small ball" where a cocky 19 year old was waiting for me after destroying his previous opponents. After the warm-up, I heard him tell his entourage: " I hope you put the champagne on ice " with a silly grin. I did not feel like I had a good chance prior to the game because he had a huge serve and powerful grounstrokes whereas my game was akin to Santoro on valium: I just hoped for a miss from my opponent. After hearing his lucid but disrespectful remarks, I vow, not to kick his ass because he was still clearly better than me, but to make him earn every inches on the court. I was so focused that I not only did not miss a ball but somehow outplayed him ( I still don't know how ) for a final score of 6/1 6/1. The best part was to see him self-destruct progressively during the game, confused as to how this skinny teenager could even stay with him. He ended up yelling at his mother and girlfriend on the side : "faites moi pas chier maintenant !" (don't piss me off now) and broke his $200 racquet. My uncle Parany, the only one on my side in the crowd, was smiling contently but we both did not say a word as we both knew how sweet this one was.
10 years later, I am the butt of the joke in basketball but at least I had a good laugh with my teammates afterwards as oppose to my tennis foe who probably ended up giving up tennis altogether. I hope you mildy enjoyed that little story of teenager Lova coming to the big city.

Before I go, I want to say a few important words: Happy Birthday to GSL (yesterday), my mother (24th), Baby Plachot ( same ) !!!!! February seems to be a good month. Thoughts and best wishes to my baby's labmate who is having a very tough time. Hope things turn out well soon.
Boy that was a long post ! I need to kill blogger and get a life !

6 comments:

  1. Je découvre ton blog et je me plais à le lire.

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  2. Salut Tattum,
    Merci de visiter. La plupart du temps, j'ecris que des betises mais ca fait plaisir de savoir que ca amuse :-). Tu n'es donc pas la soeur de Dally Randriatefy. J'ai beaucoup aime ton blog. surtout l'article sur la fuite des cerveaux etait super.
    http://tattum.canalblog.com/archives/2006/02/25/1425976.html

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  3. Lova,
    This is the best post ! I could not have written it better. There's also a Malagasy blogger based in Canada, rhaj, who wrote a post on this.
    Yes, bashful and low-key (=hendry in Malagasy, i.e. "wise") don't make it in the US.
    It's an Asian characteristic I believe, nicely illustrated by the Iron Chef battle between obnoxious, jumping-on-the table Bobby Flay and respect-your-knives-and-board Morimoto.

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  4. Well, thank you Sipakv ! learn the " be assertive " approach the hard way here. I can only agree with the FoodNetwork metaphor. My favorite is Chef Sakai only because he once made a sojabean icecream that made one the judge say: " with all due respect, this icecream taste terrible !" good times !

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  5. Salut Lova !
    Je découvre ton blog grâce à Tattum ! (Merci Tattum)
    C'est vrai que nous avons une culture qui ne nous avantage pas toujours à l'étranger (parfois si), surtout ds le milieu professionnel... Mais bon, c'est pas facile de se battre contre sa nature, non plus.
    Sinon, qqun peut dresser un tableau de ce qu'il faut changer dans notre nature ???
    BTW, tu dois aussi avoir un bon karma, tiens ;-)

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  6. >Marc, collegue Toulousain si j'ai bien compris :) ? merci de la visite. Je n'oserai jamais suggerer qu'il faut changer notre nature car la roue tourne, 1 de ces 4 les valeurs malgaches seront reconnues a leurs justes valeurs :)

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