Angus has written a comic novel called Americanisation: Lessons in American Culture and Language, which is the madcap story of Biti Namoeteri’s efforts to come to grips with American culture. He arrives in the US to study “spiritual geography” at a large university, but gets caught up in a series of compelling distractions: television, multi-level marketing, romance, and personal injury lawsuits. he Oxford American hailed Americanisation as “a hilariously crafted postmodern novel wedged into the template of a social-studies textbook for immigrants.” Michael Martone called it 'a hilarious simulacrum, a map more detailed than the thing it is meant to represent,' and added, 'It is drop-dead, deadpan funny.” Livingston Press published Americanisation in 2011. It may be ordered from any bookstore or from Amazon.com (available for Kindle). Read an excerpt below. For more info, click here.
Chapter One: The American Airport
Before you start
By the end of this chapter, you will be able to complete your arrival process to any large American city. Vocabulary activities will help you to navigate the American airport, including baggage claim, a typical airport restaurant, interactions with security personnel, and ground transportations. The chapter ends with guidance and vocabulary for the first moments in your new American apartment.
Vocabulary 1: Airport Terminology
Arrival: A complex process as gradual as the ripening of pears.
Jetway: A carpeted hallway on wheels, which attaches itself to the aircraft moments after docking at the gate. Do not expect to emerge into the American climate and descend to American concrete as a long-armed American woman drapes a chain of flowers about your neck and plants a damp kiss upon your lips before guiding you inside, helpfully answering your questions about the so-called “baggage claim area,” then grasping your hand and skipping ahead to the terminal where she might guide you through the entire airport to point out shops and lounges and new furniture until you find yourselves in a deserted tavern, exchanging whispers over a dim candle which you’ll sweep aside for the first of many long, passionate kisses. Instead, you will merely walk from the chilly, carpeted interior of the aircraft to the chilly, carpeted interior of the arrival lounge via the chilly, carpeted interior of the jetway.
Mens: Although it is not in any dictionary, “mens” is widely used as a label for men’s restrooms.
Touchless: Be warned that American airport toilets, “urinals,” faucets, and paper-towel dispensers no longer require travelers to push buttons, turn handles, or move levers. Unseen personnel monitoring hidden cameras operate these devices for you.
Baggage Claim Area: When departing your home country, you will have been given a small certificate displaying a code which may be matched to the code on a small certificate attached to your valise. Upon arrival, follow signs to the Baggage Claim Area. It is a large vestibule containing a long row of mechanisms that carry baggage in a continuous loop until travelers collect it. The area is staffed by men in uniform; do not mistake these men for military personnel, despite American involvement in overseas combat, which is continual. Most of these baggage men are too old for combat in any case.
Cafeteria: A type of American restaurant in which customers choose food from glass cabinets while propelling plastic trays along waist-high metal runners. Most cafeterias offer a startling array of foods, including hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza, noodles, fried meats, stews, casseroles, cooked vegetables, salads, and rich chocolate desserts. Most American airports contain many restaurants, including at least one cafeteria.
Security: American airports operate in a state of heightened awareness, whatever the state of warfare abroad. Just as the baggage men are not to be mistaken for soldiers, security personnel are not to be mistaken for injured veterans. Many Americans, including security personnel, wear dark glasses when indoors, and it easy to mistake a man with a large dog, a uniform, and dark glasses for a blind veteran of the current overseas conflict. In fact, such a man is on alert, and his dog is trained to defend him and pursue wrong-doers. Do not make the mistake of offering money to such personnel.
Dialogue 1: Retrieving your baggage.
A traveler by the name of Biti Namoeteri approaches a military man who has just assisted a young woman with a large yellow purse.
Biti Namoeteri: Excuse me.
Military man: Need a cart, sir?
Biti: A cart? I have this certificate.
Military man: Let’s see here. You’re on fifteen.
Biti: I am “on fifteen….” Thank you.
Vocabulary 2: Cafeteria
Jell-o®: A mildly sweet, colorful gelatin substance popular in hospitals and schools.
Special: A featured dish or combination of dishes, often offered at a reduced price. Customers must be sure to follow strict rules for specials.
Salad: A dish of cold, raw vegetables, usually featuring lettuce or spinach.
Soda (also called pop): Any of variously colored bubbly syrups served over ice.
Dialogue 2a: The airport cafeteria: server
Biti Namoeteri collects a tray and some silverware, then approaches a middle-aged woman in a hairnet.
Woman behind counter: Argh argh argh, sir.
Biti Namoeteri: Eh…somewhat weary from my travels, but otherwise fine. And how are you today?
Woman: Just fine, sir. Argh argh argh, sir.
Biti: Yes of course. Forgive my ignorance. My goal is to purchase your Red Island Express.
Woman: One meat, two vegetables. Argh argh argh, sir.
Biti: Yes, of course. I will try this brown substance, that green substance, and those items that appear to be very small carrots.
Dialogue 2: The airport cafeteria: cashier
Biti Namoeteri reaches the end of the cafeteria counter and encounters a cashier with a gold nose ring.
Biti Namoeteri: I hope you might pardon me. I operated under the impression that your Red Island Express would cost six dollars and forty-nine cents. This bill totals eight dollars and nineteen cents.
Cashier: You got two salads.
Biti: I do? But…perhaps you might count them again…?
Cashier: Two salads, no dessert. The Express has one salad and one dessert.
Biti: Exactly. Here is my salad, and here is my dessert.
Cashier: That’s a salad.
Cashier: Yeah, and that other one.
Biti: This? Are these colorful gelatinous blocks savory, then?
Cashier: Jell-o® is a salad. That’s why it’s down there. The desserts are right there by the drinks.
Biti: Very well. Here is a twenty-dollars bill.
Cashier: You pay after. Go trade your Jell-o® for some pie if you want.
Other customer: Can you ring me up while he--
Biti: That will not be necessary.
Label the following brief passages F for Fantasy or R for Realism.
1. Biti Namoeteri had trouble pinpointing the moment of his arrival in this country. _____
2. Friendly, wholesome men and women approach travelers in American airports, offering lodging and guidance then confidentially showing a satchel full of currency. Within hours, the hapless traveler finds himself sitting on an unknown street corner with a satchel full of shredded newspaper, all of his own money gone for good. _____
3. Great streams of Americans of all ages, shapes and sizes flow past a traveler at an American airport, ignoring one another and the aforementioned traveler. _____
4. A traveler who thinks of creating a chain of cafeterias directly in the paths of arriving travelers will soon become fabulously wealthy, allowing him to buy a villa in the hills with a pool for his lovely wife and a driver to escort them through the city. _____
5. America is a land of great possibility and adventure where everyone is very nice. _____