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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Answer To All Your Problems

I've been prompted lately to think about things that help to solve your problems. These can be everyday problems associated with life, or they can be existential crises. I thought I would share the beginning of my list for Tanzanian problem-solving.

Things That Solve Problems

1) A Bookclub - I've now been a founding member or establishing partner of 3 bookclubs in my lifetime - about to be 4. Bookclubs are a very modern way of giving like-minded people an excuse to get together for a supposedly intellectual pursuit - when really you just want a good excuse to get to know some new people and to socialize. Earlier this week I was out for Indian food with two lovely ex-pats who had been here for a year or more. We were having a somewhat intellectual conversation about the fact that intellectual conversations are rather rare here - even among the elitist ex-pat community when all of a sudden, one of my dinner companions had an epiphany about what would solve the problem of ex-pat anti-intellectualism - A BOOKCLUB! And indeed, I jumped right on the bandwagon, because although I'm not yet suffering from lack of intellectual conversations (as I did during my years living in North Carolina), I'm in need of new friends and companionship. So a bookclub it is! We start meeting in three weeks.

2) A Generator - Since I haven't really been talking about the day-to-day hardships of life in Tanzania, perhaps you are not aware of the dire electricity situation here. Although it seems as if we've had enough rain to fill Lake Erie, evidently it is not raining in the central part of the country where the dams and electrical plants are located. Here at my house, we've been without electricity 12-hours or more a day at least 4-days a week since I moved in. The answer to this problem is, of course, a massive, noisy, smoke-blowing generator, located conveniently just next to my pool (so as to prevent a relaxing afternoon swim surrounded by the sounds of birds, the breeze, etc.). And luckily it only costs $30/day to run! (Reimbursable - luckily.) And although I dread the moment when I'm groggily lying in my bed in the comfort of air conditioning at 7 AM and lights and air turn off and the hum of the generators in my over-priveledged neighborhood growls to life - I am most certain that a generator is the answer to all my problems here. And I feel very sorry for nearly everyone else in Tanzania (especially the small business owners) who have no generator to solve their problems.

3) A Fundi - I've already waxed poetic on the virtues of fundi, so I won't bother you with more about it here. I only want to tell you that at this very moment there are two fundi standing next to my pool, examining my generator which bleeted out smoke blacker than usual this AM, and it makes me even more grateful for the fundi in my life.

4) Tanzania Shillings - Ah... there is hardly any problem that cannot be fixed by Tsh (Tanzanian Shillings). And in a sick sort of way, that brings me comfort. I've got Tsh. I can use my Tsh to grease some pockets if I need to to accomplish my objectives. Of course I don't WANT to participate in this kind of bribery and - although you may not believe me - I have not yet had to do this. But I know that the day is coming. (Specifically the day when I'm trying to get my car out of the port without the radio being stolen.) And if I must, I will use my economic power to make things happen for me. Please don't hate me for that.

5) Malaria - Are you indignant yet??? I've called malaria - one of the worst killing diseases in the world - an answer to all your problems. And yes, of course, malaria is terrible. It kills so many children unnecessicarily and causes countless hours of lost productivity. But that's just it. Malaria is the perfect excuse for not showing up at work, and not getting work done if you do show up. It works a lot better than saying you have a lowly headache or you need a mental health day. And as far as I can tell, people wield it widely around here, and for that reason, it solves problems.

Thank you for your attention.


Blogger KathyB said...

Wow. I just made my way here from Mom 101 and spent the past hour reading your archives. What a wonderful adventure you have embarked upon. I look forward to more news from the trenches!

9:26 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

I would like to try calling in sick with Malaria but something tells me I will havve a harder time with it than you will. It's just not that prevalent in NYC. Salmonella maybe...

And leave it to you to start a book club after like four seconds in Tanzania. You just draw people to you like...well, malaria infested mosquitos, right?

4:38 AM  
Blogger Food Mum said...

Hi! I've just come here from A Mommy with Attitude. I love your last couple of posts. It's great to find another African blog to read.

7:39 AM  

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