Now seeing a lone woman with a baby isn't a novel sight, even here in the ultra-Catholic Philippines, but seeing an expat woman on her own with a baby obviously is... Our decision not to hire a yaya (nanny) seems a bit of a shock to some of the locals in our shopping mall; many staring quite obviously at her doing the shopping all on her own. Back home, in some areas, seeing both parents with the child is a rare occasion, but this cross-cultural paradigm shift that Meg had perpetrated was indeed very amusing to all around.
Shoppers cooed over Ava, and seemed bemused that we didn't have any hired help. When Megan had her hands full of groceries and Ava cried, they looked on as if to say "why doesn't someone pick up that child?" It occurred to us - it's so rare to hear a baby's cry here! We live in a fairly affluent area, and simply hadn't noticed that the babies here don't cry. They're always consoled before they can kick up too much of a ruckus. Some of the passers-by even asked her where our yaya was, seemingly stunned that we haven't got one, and even more shocked to find out that back home, we generally don't use nannies (she described the look as somewhere between surprised intrigue and pity).
Logistically speaking, the trip was another strange combination of the good and not-so-good. Our security guys always go out of their way to assist us, be it hobbling out of a car on crutches or carrying luggage to our doors when we return from the airport. Today, as they saw Megan coming, they switched off the overhead air conditioning units as she passed, so that the cool air would not blow into the pram. They're amazingly sweet to us. The general population is usually great, too, especially when they see that we have a baby with us. Sometimes it's a bit hit-and-miss, as is anywhere, but the locals all jump out of the way when they spot us coming, especially in tight spaces. Now if you've ever been to Asia, you'll know that this does not apply to elevators. Ever. It seems with elevators, it's the quick & the dead... Even if you've got a shiny new baby in a massive pram, and your white skin makes you stick out from the crowd like a pimple on a bum... Escalators are very similar. Why this phenomenon exists, I have no idea & will be forever wondering, but it's true, I swear!
I'm looking forward to seeing the reactions when Ava & I go out walking on our own. I can only imagine that it'll be a similar scenario. There aren't too many white folk around, and the majority of the ones that live here usually have local wives, so our blonde, Caucasian baby is a bit of a novelty. Of course, we think she's amazingly special, and when strangers react the way they do, it gives an extraordinary feeling of parental pride in our little girl.