markdown writing and madagascar

Another random blog post before I head off for my fieldwork for two months or so, where I will probably be beyond the reach of internet, telephone or even electricity for the most part of the trip.

Lately, I’ve become a big fan of writing in Markdown, and more I use it, more I like it, especially when I can export what I writing in the format that others want without me having to spend a lot of my time trying to format the text. Although I have a pretty good setups to write in Markdown at home in my Mac and on my iPad, I haven’t yet found an app that I’m completely happy with for my Windows 7 PC in office. As I am looking for and trying new Markdown apps for Windows 7, I have found one that is Open Source and looks pretty feature rich, and it lets me publish on my blogs directly – its called MarkPad. If you are into Markdown writing, its worth a spin.

Now, for my fieldwork, I’m heading to Madagascar and will spend most of my time there in the eastern rainforest. Its the rainy season there so expecting lots of torrential rain, probably some typhoons, and plenty of mosquito and leeches. I’m prepared though, and very much looking forward to it :-)

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…

I'm back

I’m typing these lines at the Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, ((As you can see I am posting it a couple of days later. I had wanted to post it from the airport but a 5 Euro per hour internet put me off!)) and not surprisingly its raining outside – coming after a couple of weeks in hot climate, the cool weather comes as a relief but the never-ending drizzle dampens the sense of relief considerably – to the point that you want to get away from this weather as soon a possible. Fortunately I only have another two weeks in Europe and then I’m off to the hot country again – to Ghana.

These two weeks will going to be crazy because of the packing (not just for travel but also for moving places) but I’m already thinking of spending a good and productive three-plus months in Ghana from June. In any case, I’m planning to at least post a couple of entries about my experiences in Uganda before I leave for Ghana. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed my two weeks in Uganda and was already thinking of going back at the time of leaving that country!

Pictures from Uganda trip will follow soon, probably on Flickr (some flower-pictures already up!) as I’ve become used to uploading there directly than setting up albums here or on my gallery pages. But for now, I have attempted to trace my travel routes in Uganda during those two weeks to give a rough idea of the extent of my travels. I definitely saw more of Uganda in 10 days than I have done of Nepal in 29 years!

travel routes in Uganda
My travel routes across Uganda (Map source: Google Maps)