Just found this on my e-diary while clearing/cleaning up some old files. Its a musing from some two years ago (written on 2 September 2010 at 11:07 to be precise), I don't recall what prompted me to jot these lines down then, but when I saw these this morning, I thought I might have written these last week or the week before. If you follow the news and happenings from the sub-continent then you'd know why!

When I was growing up in a traditional, yet fairly liberal Bramhin household, I might have looked like a God-fearing child growing up to to be a God-fearing adult. By high-school, most of the religious beliefs instilled in me had washed away. By the time I went to study intermediate in science, and came out of it, I was probably not an atheist, but certainly an agnostic. By the time I finished my undergraduate, I was an atheist too, and have been since. When I think of growing up, hearing about Krishna’s Leela, his misdemeanours since childhood, be it stealing, harassing girls, or later being polygamous, causing war between brothers and what not, it was rather strange to see people worshipping him as a God, a role model. Thankfully I didn’t take that literally, imagine where I would be now if I had! The question that boggles my mind is this: why do we still revere mythical characters like Krishna? What does it say about our own cultural mindset? That it is OK to engage in misdemeanours as long as you also do some good? Although I fail to find what good that mythical character Krishna really did! The most popular caricature of the character still revolves around stealing butter and chasing young pretty girls. So what was the real message his story gave to our societies. That it’s OK to hang out in every gallis and chowks and tease young girls passing by? That minor theft is not to be taken seriously and that its part of growing up?



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…