I’m working on a few of these. Eric passed this along to me. We agree that it’s probably fair to say that #10 might be the best:
10. Dress to blend in, even if you still hopelessly stick out. If locals wear long pants/skirts, tuck in their shirts, and spurn sneakers, then think about doing the same (especially if you’re working). The humanitarian aid uniform is unfortunately pajama bottoms, a t-shirt, flip-flops and a four-day old beard. Foreign researchers often resemble flood victims. This is the subject of endless humor and wonderment among my African friends.
I’m having a hard time with the four-day old beard, but I’m trying my best to work out the other parts. In Azerbaijan, there’s certainly no pajama bottoms around town. It’s all stylin’ pants, black shoes, and a nice shirt. We call them “public clothes.” Once you get home, its off with the public clothes and on with the scrubs. It’s relaxing, for the most part, except when you have to leave and put on public clothes again.
A couple notes on that: Men here wear suits. It doesn’t matter your profession, or your status in society. You wear a suit. With black pointy shoes. I’ve seen farmers in their fields, sheep herders with their flocks, construction workers, all wearing their suits on the job. I’m pushing it by wearing jeans with my black dress shoes.
Tip to Eric for the post.