Can you tell what this thing does?

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The first time I encountered it in my host family’s house I assumed it was simply an incense burner… because the smell of incense was coming from it. Then I freaked out when I saw my host sister rest her feet on top of it. I assumed the iron grill was incredibly hot (there was a ton of charcoal ash below) and that she either had superhuman feet or was about to get burned to a crisp.

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In fact, the iron grill is intended expressly for resting feet upon, to warm them up. Like a British hot water bottle, but with bonus features. I suppose the incense is to counteract the scent of warm smelly feet wafting through the air.

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It’s fascinating to me how so many of the same things are actually quite different country by country. 

In related news, as my 7-week homestay was drawing to an end last month, I checked out several apartments to move into, all north of here in more happening parts of town. But I ended up staying on with my host family after they offered to keep putting me up (putting up with me?) as long as I’m in town. I get along with them well and get tons of (and some days my only) French practice with them, so it seemed like the best option, even though it feels a little like being 17 again.

That has been awkward at times. But it’s also been oddly reassuring to finally be doing the French study abroad semester I regret not having done in my youth. A four-month homestay – just like this one is turning out to be – would have been my setup had I gone to Dakar back in my junior year of college. Better 15 years late than never.

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