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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

When exactly is someone rich?

Back home, when we say someone is rich, we usually think of a magic number such as having one million dollars. Here, in Djibouti, 'rich' has an entirely different meaning. I didn't understand that until very recently. In the past, one of my coworkers kept referring to someone as being rich, but I just couldn't see it. The individual in question drove a beat up car and didn't seem to have a particularly good salary. In a developing country, I think of rich as those who can afford almost anything and like to flaunt it to the hoi polloi.

But, I now know that 'rich' has a different meaning in Djibouti. Basically, a rich person is someone who can afford to pay the rent and buy food every month without worrying about where the money will come from. Money beyond that ability is almost irrelevant. That explains why even though I've been pleading poverty since I've been here, people still refer to me as rich!

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