October 22, 2012
February 6, 2012
|Yes. This is from THE DAY.|
I watched Lukas as he stepped away from the podium having delivered his Swearing In “MUZUNGU!” speech. He had something or other about our role as proverbial Boda Men (and Women) asking people where they're going and how we can help them get there. I marinated on that for a minute and after several other event formalities we broke into fragments of small talk, photos, and hors d'ouvres.
December 3, 2011
Words words words. I don't know how to start. It's becoming the dry season now, daily rains giving way to long hot dusty days. The school is deserted, the teachers and students moving back into the deep village for harvesting. It's quiet.
And just like that weeks of frustration were razed to the ground and I get to start fresh all over again. Two days later and I'm still glowing. I chased off three people who thought I was away and had come to rob my house. I fished a dead rancid rotting lizard out of my sofa cushions when I noticed the horrible smell. I ate beans and rice for three hundred and eightieth sixth time. But I don't care. I love it here. The highs tower above the lows.
The next morning I woke up early and went to get a cup of milk tea and a plate of cassava. I saw a co-reveler from the night before. He politely inquired about the status of my hangover (incredibly non-existent) before, like a proud father, adding, "You learned a lot last night."
November 1, 2011
Now there is a very real possibility that I am missing several layers of nuance and subtlety but 90% of these posed portraits look exactly the same. It's a very formal affair. No smiling. Rigid posture. Looking off into the distance and never at the camera. It was kind of funny at first but with a memory card full of rather bland portraits I've been trying to figure a way around it. I snapped the above shot of the kids from my lap while someone was giving a speech.
Kids here are left pretty much unsupervised by around the time they can walk. The ever quotable Mr. Owiny quips that the children here "just move anyhow, as if they were goats" which probably doesn't help paint the picture for you as you're likely not familiar with free range goats. If the child is still crawling they're put under the charge of a (not much) older sibling. It is quite common to see a girl of about 8-10 years with a baby wrapped to her back with a piece of fabric while she fetches water or fire wood.
There's another aspect about the village children that I really struggle to articulate. It's like they're not really viewed as people or at least as a person with a name and personality. Any boy is called merely "boy" and girls are called "girl" in lieu of a name. It's impossible (for me) to tell which child belongs to which family and where they are supposed to be and when. Free range children I guess.
September 11, 2011
August 23, 2011
While these thoughts and observations are tumbling through my mind I snap back into white people paranoia mode and notice the customs que is about to pass me by. To avoid the stern looks and any chance of possible brief (!) conversations I quickly scuttle off through customs, dutifully avoiding the eye contact of any passerby.
July 25, 2011
My otherness is impossible forget as each day brings subtle, flat and overt reminders addressed as offhand comments or jeering children or slurring drunks. As tiresome as these things can be, especially one year in and one to go, they bruise only. More than insults and irritation it's the isolation. There are some things that nobody in my village ever really "gets." Somethings I can't explain to even the most willing, educated, kindly people in the township. The people I consider to be my closest friends. I wish they could just listen and understand and change their outlook seamlessly but, obviously, that's a bit of a fantasy.
This is a really stupid post and some pretty lousy writing.
Basically what I wanted to say is that I'm tired of being stared at all the time. Anonymity has gone the way of, I dunno, decent cheese. It's not something I'm likely to get back until I come back Stateside. Something that I do appreciate is the perspective I have gleaned from this experience.
I mean, every possible factor is skewed in my favor. The stereo-type of white people here is that we are healthy wealthy and educated. Even the nature of the experience is finite, there's a two year window that I have to put up with all this and afterwards I'm back in the happy majority bubble. I can't help but contrast that with what minorities in the US have to put up with. Most of the stereo types are negative and the experience certainly doesn't have a two-years-and-you're-free time stamp. I can't even imagine how much weight that is to carry around. As comparatively easy the experience is for me, it still drives me up the wall.