Are you straight?

Carla, my Portuguese housemate (peace sign) and Petra my Crotian course mate are the most visible in this picture. The other two ladies in the background are Italians; Carolina and Laura. Chiara, has the brown bag.

For a select group of persons who have come to know me well, this question should set them smiling. For those who are yet to make my acquaintance, I should imagine this will get you wondering two things by now – the writer and his chums will find it amusing.

Well, the question managed to get itself wedged in my mind after they erupted from the lips of a 15-year old looking bloke who was gyrating to some Beyoncé-like mumble on a night when I made the brave decision to explore the decades-old metropolis on a windy Saturday night.

What a welcome it was.

It was a night of mixed emotions as my course mates and I had spent half of it looking for a nice place to have fun, which turned out to be a night of club hopping basically.

After 30 minutes at a place where the master/mistress of ceremonies happened to be a transvestite, we thought, “this could not get any worse!”

It did.

As I danced the evening away with some Italian ladies who I had just met that night, completely oblivious of what was happening around me, I felt a tap on my shoulder.

There stood a young man I believe was in his early teens; smiling and gazing upon me like he had just discovered a gem in the heart of a coal mine. He leaned forward and asked me: Are you straight?

As the words sunk into my mind and clutched at meaning, felt that familiar tingle: the one you get when you know you are far away from home.

I have been away from my home country, Ghana for three weeks now. I am studying International Journalism at Cardiff University. Yet, none of that prepares you for your fair share of some rude awakening.

Nothing prepares you for the intriguing smiles that greet you at every turn, partly because you are new in town and partly because the smiles are coming from people who are in the same situation as you. The Chinese, I must say, are quite guilty of this lovely attribute.

Nothing prepares you to deal with overcoming some of the rather skewed stereotypes associated with several cultures and peoples from across the world. “Keep and open mind, but guard it all the same,” wise words from a good friend were apt for maneuvering some of those touchy waters.

Arriving in Oyibo land
From Left: Abu, Sadister and me at Cardiff Airport

However, when another man, in a presence of three stunning females walks up to you and asks, “Are you straight?” its hard to tell you how to react.

I will however tell you what I did.

I put my hands on his shoulders, looked him dead in the face and said, “I am, sorry.”

One of the girls almost screamed out, “I told you, I told you. We were trying to hook you up with him. I told you. Where are you from?”

Through all of this, I just stood there and took it all in. I truly was away from home. A slap or yell or an insult or a combination of both would have been the fate of that poor young man if he had made a pass at me in a Ghana bar or club.

But then, I was away from home.

The adventures are numerous. The experiences are uncountable.

One thing rings true though; Humanity is a wonderful thing.

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