मोटाएको = Healthy

1. “You’re looking healthy” he says. I respond “its Africa”, meaning its all to do with spending half the year in nice warm climate and in a lot relaxed atmosphere. But then I’m thinking “I must have looked FAT” for him to comment that I’m looking “healthy” – quintessentially belayeti comment I would say, polite and diplomatic. I must start going for a run every morning and/or evening now. I wouldn’t want to be commented upon with statements like “you look well-fed”!

2. Oh, and I’ve finally found a place I liked and the person already living there liked me too it seems, for I’ve moved in to my new abode last night and the unpacking has begun. Was thinking of taking some pictures of my messy room to put up here but totally forgot in a rush to get to office before lunch (will try and do that tonight, if i don’t forget again that is!), to prepare for the meeting that I have in 50 minutes time, but I couldn’t help post this “update” in here as I haven’t posted anything new for ages, and I’m tired of blog-hopping, while wishing I could also blog as regularly as some of the blogs that I frequent!

3. Now I must get back and prepare for my meeting. Will try to post a bit thoughtful entries once I fully settle in to my new place – the one that is sure to provide environment to think with its home-made wine, and fresh produce from the allotments (and yea I’ve promised to get my hands dirty as well – haven’t worked on gardens for ages, it should be fun!).

4. Now a picture from Africa (couldn’t help posting one!) :)
Accra at night

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…

new abode and sub-standard kit kats

Well, its an update-post for the sake of it. I am now back in York after seven months in West Africa – from +30 degrees to -3 degrees pretty much sums up my experience being back. “Reverse culture shock” is another phrase that comes to mind frequently. But its great to be back in York after all these months away. The immigration officer at Heathrow was asking me how I could call myself a full time student in the UK and spend more than half a year elsewhere! My response was that I was still a full time student while away :)

Anyway, as usual I found myself lucky in that I didn’t have to struggle too much to find a temporary accommodation for the next 3-4 months here in York. I have a nice little room in what seems to be a recently refurbished student house – at walking distance from the uni, city centre, and a newly opened Morrisons (which wasn’t there when I left York at the end of May!). In fact quite a few things seem to have changed in these seven months – well, thats the impression I got. Firstly, I tried to book a GNER train to York as soon as I arrived in London, only to find that GNER was no more and that the train that I would be travelling to and from London will now be the National Express East Coast. The familiar colours of the GNER trains were all replaced by dull grey of the new operator. At least they should have kept the nice colours if not the name!!! Can’t complain about the free wireless on the train though, although my laptop wasn’t working so couldn’t make use of it :(

Well, other than that, lots of new developments everywhere in York, not just the Morrisons that I go to but also lots at UoY and elsewhere in the city.

Oh, here comes the sub-standard kit kat that I saw on the kitchen table in my “new” house!

sub-standard kit kat

And a close-up of the small prints!

sub-standard kit kat

These goods are sub-standard, sold for household consumption only and must not be re-sold.

Then why sell them in the first place if they can’t be “sold” again!!

So thats the story of my new abode and the sub-standard kit kats!!

Taking a breather, in Ouagadougou…

Another quick update, more on my whereabouts than anything else. This weekend I’m in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I don’t know if I can reasonably justify travelling to Ouagadougou for the weekend while I’m supposed to be carrying out my household surveys in Ghana, but I do have a couple of good reasons, or so I believe.

First reason is that I have actually completed household surveys at one of the sites and needed to take a break. A weekend-off sounded like a good idea (what an irony here though, as weekends are supposed to be taken off anyway!) when my friends in Tamale said they were driving up to Ouaga for the weekend, and whether I would be interested in “coming along”. I did need some pursuading by my friends, but not that much to be honest. I think I really needed a “breather” from the work in Ghana, and what better option there could be for going away to take a breather than coming to the capital of a Francophone country!?! Good food, nice music, good-looking and well-dressed women, and lots to do if I was up for the night-outs, and so on. Well, I think I can justify this trip, don’t you? Continue reading Taking a breather, in Ouagadougou…

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…