Weekend in Tamale…

What an ordeal I had to go through to spend a weekend in Tamale! On Friday I finished my work in the village by mid-morning, hoping I would be picked up by a friend who was supposed to be passing by the place before lunch. As it happens so often here, I waited and waited without any sign of that friend coming or of any news about his whereabouts. Sent a couple of messages but no response, finally called around lunchtime when he said I should wait for him and that he’d be coming shortly. I had my lunch in the village, and continued with my wait. I was reading Dostoevsky’s The Gambler and had a couple of dozen pages left, which I finished not so long afterwards, but still no sign of my friend! Around 3pm I received a text message from him telling me he’d be setting off in one hour and should be there shortly afterwards. I decided to wait another hour and half (this was a big mistake as I later found out!). I waited for another couple of hours and he didn’t come. At around 5:30, I received a final text in which he said his company doesn’t allow him to use company vehicle after 6pm so can’t return to Tamale! I was just too tired and sick of waiting to even be angry with him. I just told myself I’ll get to Tamale that evening no matter what, and so waited for a local mini-bus or tro-tro.

This wouldn’t even tro-tro :): A relic from the past in Gbimsi.
Continue reading Weekend in Tamale…

as time goesflies by

Time: Practically Sunday night, Technically Monday morning – 01:15 hrs (GMT)
Location: Tamale
State of Mind: Unknown
Playing in Background: Andrea Bocelli (Vivere – The Best of Andrea Bocelli)
Reason for Staying Awake: Got 2 hours of good sleep earlier before being woken up by some noise outside the house (party people returning from the club it seems!)
Reason for not being able to go back to sleep: Unknown
Current activity (other than typing): Observing two (very quick) spiders running around the entire length and breadth of the room – worried they might climb on to the bed…worry unfounded so far!
Inspiration for this entry: Mr Witt’s comment on the previous post, which I just saw on my mailbox (checked on mobile phone, yea I know I’m a tech-savvy person! And I can already feel some people thinking “what a “mapain” this fella is!?!” :) )
Time since last post: 1 month +
Anything special about this Sunday?: None except that today was the day for my anti-malarial, which I took in timely manner with food in the morning! Oh, no side effects for me as far as I can tell. This staying-up-late has nothing to do with medicine I’m sure (well, I hope!).
In Short: I’m alive and doing well!! :)
Continue reading as time goesflies by

the week that was…

Work without end, struggle without work
It wasn’t my plan to set off with an unfinished paper in hand (on computer rather), but thats was happened. I could probably find many “genuine” excuses but the most genuine of all the excuses – and which isn’t really an excuse – is my excessive procrastination. In any case, the first weekend in Ghana without uninterrupted internet connection (with BBC worldservice to keep company instead) has certainly helped me spend more time reading and writing, not to mention thinking (and not just about work and research at that!). I’ve finished the unfinished paper (or so I think) and have just managed to make “electronic submission” of the manuscript (phew, after nearly two hours of uploading files – not that I had that many files, the “broadband” connection was just not broad enough!). So,the week that was, the week has been one of relative success.

But that’s only half the story! Beginning at the university in York, trying to sort administrative nightmares, ending at the university in Tamale, trying to sort administrative nightmares, the week that was, the week has been one of immense frustration. Beginning at the airport in London, ending at the airport in Tamale – getting away with heavy baggage in London, having to pay extra for “excess baggage” in Accra, the week that was, the week has been one of partial travel woes. Reading The Enchantress of Florence – beginning on the last night in York, continuing during a night in Accra, then during the laziness of the daytime Tamale, the week that was, the week has been one of a fascinating read.

Lets talk about the “struggle to work” now, or rather the culture of work/work ethic. Arriving in Ghana, one thing you pretty quickly realise is that West (or North more appropriately) makes you too impatient. Things here take time to get done, they always take time. If you have an appointment with your local colleague at nine in the morning and s/he doesn’t turn up until 11:30, you shouldn’t be surprised that much. As long as s/he turns up before noon, s/he will feel proud at the fact that s/he made it to the meeting in the “morning”, which was what was agreed after all – to meet in the morning. It doesn’t matter what time in the morning, as long as its in the morning, the person hasn’t missed the appointment! You would think being a Nepali, I shouldn’t be too impatient as Ghana-time is more like Nepali-time when it comes to appointments, but being that Nepali who is now more and more living in a limbo between various cultures, its often difficult to decide how to react. At the end you don’t really have much option than to go with the flow and have things done the Ghanaian way, or rather let things happen than trying too hard to make things happen knowing all well that all your efforts could be better spent in other ways!

If somebody tells you a certain thing will get done that week then it usually means things will be ready before the office starts on Monday the next week. Don’t discount the weekends though – if things need to be done at all cost that week, weekend could be used as well. But don’t expect the job to be done by Friday though, two days of weekend are very important, albeit being public holidays.

However, there is one trick that I have realised works fairly well in these situations, be it in Nepal or Ghana – take the lead yourself, get your hands dirty, show by example, and embarrass those delaying the work. They would then have no option but to follow your lead.
Continue reading the week that was…

depressingly optimistic…

What an insomniac I have become, its 02:49 and I haven’t been able to sleep since I woke up about an hour or so ago. Night after night I wake up after 2 or 3 hours of sleep, and spend another 2, 3 or 4 hours in sleeplessness. I hadn’t even gone to bed that early – must have slept around 22:00. OK, a couple of hours earlier than my usual bedtime, but then 22:00 or thereabouts has been my bedtime here in Ghana for months now. I woke up after a very jumbled-up dream…it seemed to be a khichadi of so many issues that I have either put-off from dealing with, or those that I had dealt with in the past with unintended consequences (reminds me of reading about “intended changes with unintended consequences” somewhere towards the end in Sen’s Development as Freedom) or those that I thought I had dealt with but in reality were not dealt with at all…Very confusing and jumbled up, I know…and I always wonder why can’t life be as delicious as khichadi when its all mixed-up like the latter!?! Or may be I really enjoy this all-mixed-up life like I do khichadi !!

Continue reading depressingly optimistic…

Taking a breather…

Its been nearly a week since I came back to Tamale from the village where I have my household surveys ongoing. This “nearly-a-week” has actually given me some breathing space (although breathing is becoming harder by the day literally due to increasing concentration of dust in the air as Harmattan approaches). In fact the day I left the village to come back to Tamale, I had sore throat, which got better after a day or two in Tamale. But, the breathing problem with stuffy nose (started with runny nose in the village, now its the opposite!) continues. All these minor problems have however made me rest a bit and give myself a breather after a month or so of intense work. The “broadband” internet at my friend’s office is working like a charm thesedays, which means either before going to work (when working in the afternoon) or after work (when I’m working early mornings), I just come around and suck the juice out of this 256kbps “broadband” with BBC podcasts downloads and updating my computer software etc. It has also given me chance to play a bit more on facebook and chat with friends on IMs. And to top it all, I just had a nice conversation (via type-chat on Skype) with my supervisor, which means I won’t have to write an email to update him on my progress for a week or so!

Continue reading Taking a breather…