Discovery of another culture: Ingrid in Montreal, Phone calls

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Coo-Mon is not only accessories, but also a story of discovery and acceptance of the other’s culture


After understanding that it is not freezing 12 months a year in Canada (read my previous publication on the subject here ...), I faced another challenge: phone calls.

If you knew my parents, you would easily understand why calling them is a number 1 priority. I call them (when they can’t hear me, obviously) "papa and mama bear".

For you to understand better what I'm talking about, let me tell you a little anecdote. One day, while I was in high school, we had a school trip and at that time, cell phones did not exist in my country. As our bus broke down, we got home very late and I could not let my parents know in time. When I got home, my father was waiting for me at the entrance of the house and my mother on the main street (about 10 minutes walk from my house). I did not see her on my way back because I took another path. My father told me to go get her and that it was the last time he paid for a school trip because he could not spend his money and stress like that.

You can now understand that once I arrived in Quebec after 24 hours of travel and 2 planes, calling them became an emergency, and not only once but as often as possible.

Before I arrived, I thought that I would have a mobile plan to be often reachable by them. But I had to quickly come back to reality. One thing that surprised me was that cell phones were not as common here as in Benin. Comparing the two cities, Montreal and Cotonou, there were two different realities. In Cotonou, we had more cell phones (and even several per person sometimes, one cell per provider) than land phones. In Montreal, it was more of land phones than mobile phones. I should mention that when I came to Montreal, smartphones were not usual at that time.

What discouraged me most? If I subscribed to a mobile plan and someone called me, we both had to pay. Example: for a mobile that works with a recharge card, each of the two persons engaged in the communication use their call credit. If it is a plan that works with minutes, both people lose minutes.

My reasoning was really simple: why should I pay if I ask for nothing and someone calls me? And the most surprising thing is that if I no longer had call credit, the system will tell the caller that I can’t be reached. Meanwhile in Cotonou, only the caller pays the call and when there is no call credit remaining, calls can still be received but can not be made.

In this context, I did not subscribe to a mobile plan and told my mother that if she wanted to reach me more often she would have to buy me a cell phone and then I would take care of the plan. Therefore, my parents called me on my land phone. Except that given the time difference - 5 or 6 hours ahead of Montreal depending on the time of the year - they would call me around 6 AM in the morning to be sure to reach me. You can then imagine that when one responds to calls at 6 o'clock in the morning, one does not have the same tone of voice as at noon. They probably panicked several times believing that I was hiding something from them because my voice was less cheerful.

After 2 years like that, my mother sent me a cell phone and I got myself a mobile plan.

Usually, when we leave an African country for Europe or America, we wrongly think that everything is rosy and beautiful. This is the case for some situations, but not for everything ... Each country has their own facts. An ideal world does not exist, especially since what’s ideal for someone won’t be for the others. Two cultures are equivalent to two different realities, much like two brothers or two sisters raised by the same parents but with different behaviors related to their respective personalities.

In short, we all evolve on the same planet, but with different rites and cultures. My goal through Coo-Mon is to make people discover cultures through textiles, so that we can get to know others.

See you soon for another discovery ...


Ingrid, Founder of Coo-Mon Accessoires et Cultures

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