When I told our almost-five year old daughter that we were moving to Madagascar, I thought that I had been pretty thorough. We looked for Madagascar on the map, together. I showed her photos of lemurs. I showed her aerial photos of the capital city, Antananarivo (Tana, for short). I told her that the people there speak Malagasy (or malgache, as it is referred to in French), and that their skin was a different colour from ours (most are of Indonesian/Polynesian descent; some are black African).
- The city is dirty. The roads are very dusty and there is garbage everywhere.
- The city is very polluted. You can't walk down the street unless you don't mind inhaling car fumes that were banned in the 1970s in Europe.
- Poverty and misery are everywhere, staring at you in the face.
And every day thereafter, moaning and growing that Madagascar (or at least Tana) was not beautiful, that everyone is poor here, that the people here wear dirty clothes and have no shoes, that there was too much dust everywhere, that she missed her old house, her old friends and her old city.
My daughter was suffering from culture shock.