January 27, 2005

Disconnected thoughts

--Knife sellers--
Like the alternating fruit and vegetable seasons, the street sellers have seasons too. Trees, perfumes, fire crackers can all be bought at different times and usually one item will dominate the market for a few weeks and then fade into oblivion. This week, it’s knife season (due to Tabaski probably). 18-year old kids walk around with cases of long knifes-about the size of one’s forearms-and machetes from the Rambo movies. I walk around them nervously and politely decline their invitation to buy their wares, acutely aware that they could just wield the knives in my direction and I would feel very much “obliged” to pay for them.

--Computer Programs--
I have been spending waaay too many hours working on a publication for my office using a 30-day trial version of In Design. It’s a strong formatting program that can create professional looking publications but takes a while to get the hang of. I spent the whole day playing with the following features: resetting the margins, changing the words around to look nicer, adding white spaces to the cells of each table. I swear I am not joking: the whole day.
After hours of staring at the dumb computer screen, I learned that the monitor should be orientated downwards not upwards, explaining the rather severe neck strain I’ve been feeling lately.

Tabaski is some sort of religious event where you get to buy a male sheep (looks just like a goat) and kill it yourself. I still haven’t quite figured it out but I’m told that it involves a ceremony to imitate the sacrifice of Abraham in front of God. For us non-Muslims (and Muslims alike I imagine) it means that the downtown streets are bare and the streets leading back to the suburbs are jammed packed. And of course, you can buy a sheep pretty much anywhere this time of year if you wanted one. A colleague of mine, who usually takes 1 hour to get into the office, was stuck in traffic for 4 hours.
I walk the streets at night, and all that is left are the poorest of the poor beggars. The ones that have had polio when they were children and drag themselves by their hands (they weave their fingers in plastic flip-flops to protect their palms). Their mangled, dwarfed legs trailing behind. Not even a wheelchair to call their own. Even the old men with leprosy have gone home the day before Tabaski.

After 6 months of having a really shitty fridge and requesting a new one every single day (When can I have a new fridge? Have you given some thought about my fridge? Say have I mentioned that my fridge doesn't work? I have a suggestion: let's get me a new fridge!), I now have two. Which makes it considerably harder to move around in my kitchen. My water bottles are still half frozen from the old fridge. As I pour the remaining non-frozen water I wonder why half the water is hard as a rock and the other is still liquid WITHIN the same bottle. I wonder if perhaps the liquid portion is made up of non-filtered water or perhaps water with more particulate matter in it—explaining why it hasn’t frozen with the rest of the water. Can this explain the “stomach troubles” I’ve been having all along? My brain shuts down, I shrug it off and avidly gulp the whole glass down.

--Democratic Republic of Congo--
The fellow in the Congo has come down with a case of Malaria.

I applied to a job in Congo-Kinshassa (see irony of the situation with above statement). Now my company is considering whether I should go in Congo or stay in Senegal. I’m confused and torn and will just ride the wave until someone, or something, decides for me.

I’m off ladies and gents, I can hear the Bbaaa of the goats in the parking lot behind my house.


Congogirl said...

OK, some minor clarifications about the malaria:

1. I wasn't taking a prophylaxis, which I am now.

2. I actually had it in the States, and was treated by doctors consulting the CDC website rather than by those accustomed to seeing it.

3. The CDC tx was probably worse than the malaria. You'd be better off getting it in Congo.

4. I believe it was triggered by a stressful experience while I was home, and otherwise my immune system was holding it of.

5. Though it's not uncommon here, you can self treat if you recognize it right away, makes life much easier.

6. It's a fact of life, some Congolese even come to work with it!

Congogirl said...

ps. I think you should just come here if you are leaning toward it. If you hate it, you can always leave.

007 in Africa said...
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007 in Africa said...

Thanks for the clarification. I hope I don't get it but it's a reality here as well. It seems like there are some Senegalese that are more sensitive to it so they end up walking around with anti-malarials in their bag. They treat it post-exposure as soon as they feel they might have it.
I've seen a man chase his prophylaxis with his morning o.j and then give a lecture right after that.