Yesterday, one of my students yelled to me across the hall, then planted her hands on her butt as if to make a point. I turned to her teacher inquisitively and he laughed, trying to find the words. “She says,” he starts falteringly, “that you are stylish. You have small…hips.”

Smallness is a good thing here, I surmise. I remember that another student had made a remark about how small my face was. “She envies you,” the teacher had said, when it was clear that I wasn’t sure if this was a compliment or not.

Sometimes it’s very obvious how out of place I am. I’m always trying to be bigger, when the custom here is to try to be smaller.