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Saturday, September 23, 2006

Still Here - Over There

Hello everybody,

I'm sure you've been wondering where we are. Well... we are again on safari, but this time to the US. After 28 hours of pure hell - which involved an unanticipated 12-hour lay over in Amsterdam (at the airport) and fabulous drug administered to the twins which helped them sleep the entirely of two 8-hour + plane rides - we made it safe and sound to NY.

Actually... it is almost time to turn around and go back to Tanzania. This visit was too short - but then again, we are only allowed to spend 35 days a year in the US without losing our non-resident tax status, so it is important for us to stay away as much as possible.

Now, with just a few days to go, I'm faced with decisions about what to bring back with us. What is it that we miss so much I am willing to shelp it back? It is not as easy as you might think to figure this one out, a fact elucidated by my one moment of culture shock, which happened last week.

You see, I've been taking Swahili classes. And ever since the first Swahili class I've been scouring Dar for index cards. I've looked in every stationary store. I've sent my driver out to every market in town. I've asked numerous people if they have seen index cards ANYWHERE. I have been willing to pay top dollar, but no one wants my money.

Obsessed about index cards? (I hear you saying now.) Yes, index cards. Even though obviously I could make my own by cutting up some paper, it is just not the same. I need that perfect weight paper stock. I need the blank paper on one side and the lines on the other. I've been missing index cards. And I (in part) blame my lack of significant progress in Swahili on the fact that I don't have index cards so I can't effectively study outside of class. Really. (Go ahead. You try to study a new language without index cards!)

But the truth is that I didn't have index cards on my mental US shopping list. At least I didn't have them on my list until I walked into the local five and dime store here in Larchmont and spotted out the side of my eye five full shelves of index cards. And oh my god, there were so many choices.

I could buy yellow index cards.
I could buy pink index cards.
I could buy green index cards.

There were index cards with lines.
There were index cards without lines.

There were small, small/medium, medium, medium/large, large, and extra large sized index cards.

And in the face of all that I've wanted and searched for for all these months I just stood there. Mouth agap. Looking at all my choices.

But after five stunned and overwhelmed minutes, I realized that the choice was not really about which index cards to buy. Rather, it was about whether or not index cards were so important to me that I was willing to schelp them back to Tanzania. Since space is limited in our bags, the choices are index cards or Grape Nuts? Index cards or NY bagels? Index cards or blue cheese salad dressing? Index cards or that educational game that promises to have Jaden and Rowan reading at a sixth grade level in three weeks?

Are index cards that important?

I don't know. I can't decide.

Do you know? Help.


Blogger Karen said...

I lurk on your blog and I've been an ex-pat (ok, in England so it can't compare...) but I say buy the index cards. Grape Nuts are yucky, and you'll lose the taste for them.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Bring the grape nuts. I'll send you the index cards.

11:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are there such things available as Swahili language tapes/CDs, etc.?

--Too Embarrassed To ID Self

4:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

go for the index cards.
you don't need that other stuff.
once you return, you'll be glad you have the cards.

5:24 AM  
Anonymous Amy said...

Can you mail yourself the index cards? That way you can take food/perishables with you and have the best of both worlds, so to speak. You could also line the inside of your suitcase with some of the index cards, in addition to mailing the bulk of them, so you can have some while you wait for the rest to get through customs. :-) I would always take NY bagels over index cards.

8:48 PM  
Blogger debbie Segor said...

I hope you bought the index cards. Can't you stuff them in the kids' backpacks or the zipper lining of your suitcase.

Cousin Debbie

12:35 AM  
Blogger KathyB said...

Must have index cards... I buy them in bulk. Now that I know there are none to be had in Tanzania, I won't be going there anytime soon. :)

1:36 AM  

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