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kenya smallIt is polite and decent to look your counterpart in the eye. But as a Stargardtien, that's not so easy. The customs in other countries though can be to one's advantage.

Stargardt usually affects the visual centre. It creates a kind of blind spot that is always there. If I want to look someone in the eye and fixate on the person, the eyes are gone, and usually, the whole head too. I can now look at my interlocutor in such a way that I do not see her head, then I am quite sure that I am looking directly at her. And in doing so, I feel like a fraud, because I am pretending something that is not there (see Blind Greetings). I also wonder if it is not more of a staring than a looking.
In Kenya, the case is the other way around. It is considered rude to look someone directly in the eye, especially an older person of respect. Eye contact is sporadic, and the gaze is directed to the floor. This is where my Stargardt comes in handy. I still make an effort to fix my counterpart every now and then, but mostly I spy more out of the corners of my eyes (because there they have better vision than in the centre). So I have a built-in part of demonstrating my respect - even if only a small one. Respect consists of much more than eye contact.

 This article is part of the series "Stargardt in Africa".