The pros and cons of life…

Life has been a little crazy of late and of course the blog was the first activity to be neglected in the chaos. I don’t have much time before my laptop battery runs out, but here’s some thoughts about my life in Kamwenge…

The things that make me proud to call this place home:

  • When I go and hang out with one of my friends who owns a small shop on the main street, she gives me free apple juice because ‘Kim, you are my visitor here, not my customer! That’s what we do in Uganda…’ I’m not quite sure if she has many ‘customers’.
  • The beaming Ugandan smiles that creep across the faces of onlookers as I attempt my simple Rukiga. Although frustrating, learning the language and the encouraging moments of success that follow are turning me into an addict!
  • Tropical rain on a tin roof – which coincidentally my house has.
  • The food market and all the associated smells, colours, tastes and typical Ugandan-ness that it represents. More on this in another blog soon!
  • Babies, Babies, Babies! Everyone here is popping them out, and I do love them…
  • Never being in trouble for being late. *sigh* I was made for this place. I rocked up 2 hours late to a meeting the other day and only ¾ of the people had arrived. No more angry looks from time-obsessed Australians who disagree that ‘I was doing other things’ is a valid excuse.
  • Being able to make friends with people super quick, with a liberating dismissal of the line between business and pleasure. A little story to demonstrate: I was at a shop in a nearby town buying internet credit the other day, while Michael was at the bank, and I started chatting to the girl at the counter. She asked if we could be friends and swap numbers. It seems Michael had a similar experience with a man at the bank. Once we reached our destinations, much to our amusement, we both received calls from our new friends asking if we had a ‘safe journey’ and wondering if we could hang out sometime. Easy!
  • Cows. Everywhere. I’m used to them, but they never fail to amuse me.

The things that drive me bonkers:

  • Before even starting to cook dinner, spending half an hour sifting through rice, 20 grains at a time, to pick out all the tiny little stones that are constantly destroying my teeth – the search for them aided only by a paraffin lantern because the power is out about 50% of the time at the moment. Grrr.
  • Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu! Mzungu! Yes I am white. I get it. You live on the same street as me kid, how many times can the excitement REALLY last?
  • Stud – when will that rooster learn that my house is not his own private highway?
  • Babies, Babies, Babies! It seems that you do not need to know someone very well before the inevitable question comes – ‘Why haven’t you produced any children yet?’ And when I stumble through my answer about ‘culture’ and ‘how things are done’ in Australian marriages, they just look at me with pity and concern and tell me they’ll pray for me.
  • Having no running water. It drives me nuts when the water pump in Kamwenge at the Mpanga river stops working. When I was staying in Uganda without running water for 3 months a few years ago it was fine – even quaint. Now that I’m living here, fetching water in jerry cans just doesn’t cut it!!! (Although it is a daily experience for most Ugandans)
  • An ultra-aggressive and dangerously annoying endemic of the ‘man-flu’ in Bakiga/Banyankole men. It seems women are the tough ones in this culture too! Oh, how the similarities bring women around the world together J
  • Bad Drivers. And I mean life-threateningly bad. Uganda has the 2nd highest amount of road fatalities per vehicles in the entire world. Driving 100km/hour on the potholed dirt road to Kamwenge is NEVER acceptable!

Thus ends my thoughts for this week.

4 responses to “The pros and cons of life…

  1. Entertaining and informative as usual – I love the way you write. BTW – our Rose is now settling into life in Addis Ababa for her semester of teaching. Obtained her licence yesterday – but is not sure about tackling the traffic just yet. She plans to practice driving the left hand drive cars in the school compound first. Seems all African traffic bears a remarkable similarity to all Asian traffic! We are planning to visit her in December.

  2. Hey girl, I’ll never forget telling a room full of rural Indonesian women once that I wasn’t going to be having any babies. The stunned silence that ensued was the proverbial pin dropping kind. They simply possessed no frame of reference from which to understand my statement. And I also get the ‘we pray for you’ thing from Karam and Elsa and the entire Indian and Ethiopian contingents! Oh well, the strange ways of white people only get stranger! Love you xx

    • lol. Glad to know you are getting the same pressure in Oz! 🙂 Empowerment and the challenge to gender roles really has turned our world upside down, hasn’t it? Have decided to do my thesis on Family planning choices and gender power relations – a very interesting topic, one i’d love to chat to you about. Hope all is well, skype soon xo

  3. Great to hear tales from the “other” world. I wish more Australians (and by Australians I mean all developed nations) could experience life in places like Uganda and realise that this seemingly eccentric behavior and novel lifestyles are actually fairly normal to them. When I was recently in SE Asian, the thing that struck me was the immediate relaxed and organic nature of how life works outside of uptight, over-governed Australia and that we are straying increasingly further from that relaxed state all the time. I reckon that despite the ever-present annoyances for things that ARE easier in “our world” (like running water, reliable electricity), the sense of community, personable interactions and relaxed lifestyles far outweigh the inconveniences. Great work you guys are doing!!

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