The other day I was at the market and I was thrilled to come across a stack of German newspapers! Granted, they were extremely out of date and being sold as individual section rather than the whole paper. I was perplexed, but I bought one nonetheless to help with my German studies. As I flipped through the pile looking for the arts section, I thought to myself “why would they be selling an entire stack of German newspapers? Are there really that many Germans in Cape Coast?”
My thought process was interrupted when the saleswoman began to interrogate me, asking “will you read it!?!?” Now, I thought she was implying that I was flipping through the stack of newspapers and reading them without paying. “No!” I exclaimed “I am just looking for the arts section!”
After flipping through the stack and finding an arts section from June, I handed over my payment. The woman asked me “what language is this in?” to which I responded “Um… German.” All the while I am wondering why this woman would be selling these newspapers when she didn’t know what language they were in! “Can you read it?” she asked. I told her that I am trying to learn, this paper will help me study. She looked at me perplexed as I wished her well and went on my way.
Later on that evening I was sitting on the couch with my newly acquired 5-month old German newspaper, my German dictionary and grammar books sprawled out across the coffee table. My roommate came in and sat down, asking if I bought this paper in the market. I confirmed, telling her all about my experience.
My roommate then burst into laughter. She explained that these newspapers were being sold as wrapping paper, which pretty much answered all of my questions. At the time this thought had never occurred to me, it was much more feasible that this woman was selling a stack of old newspapers to German visitors. Meanwhile, the saleswoman was surprised that this crazy foreigner actually wanted to read the wrapping paper.
Yet another one of my cultural mishaps. My roommate and I had a good laugh over this one.