- Name: Kate
- Location: Aileu, Timor-Leste
I'm an aid worker, trying to do my little bit to leave the world a better place than I found it. This blog sporadically tracks my adventures in various countries, as I try to play my part is the massive venture to Make Poverty History.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Sunday, 8 August 2010
A New Phase
Friday, 1 January 2010
Happy New Year!
Friday, 29 May 2009
Paris in the Springtime
Well – I’m back in Paris, for the fourth time in two years! Staying this time on the Left Bank, which is an area I’m less familiar with, so it’s fun to explore new turf. Bettina and I have been torturing ourselves for the past couple of weeks, thinking of all the great food I would be eating here, and I’m certainly indulging now. I adored that I received an email from my mother before arriving, detailing all the coffee options in and around our apartment!! It truly is genetic.
Thus far we have just been wandering, enjoying the beauty that is Paris, doing some shopping (bit of damage to the credit card!) some museums etc. The weather is pretty cool and a bit rainy but I love it – a great change from Uganda and no chance of getting burned! I’m going to be catching up with some friends over the next few days and might try to get into the French Open as well.
I was pondering yesterday, whilst in a public bathroom in the Tuileries, that really, living in developing countries just prepares you for the bathrooms in France!! Excellent practice. Much of Paris has changed since I lived here in 1995 (my mind is still reeling from discovering a Starbucks on the Champs Elysees) but much abides – I still find it very easy to get around and it still feels like home here. I guess a city that has been here since 500B.C. won’t have changed much in 14 years.
Next week, we are taking a three-day trip up to the north of France (and Belgium) to see a series of sites where Australian soldiers fought in WWI – should be excellent and very moving. We don’t think we have any ancestors who fought in France (my family seems to specialise in the Middle Eastern countries) but are trying to confirm this. I am really looking forward to this…the history geek in me lives on!
So – until I have more news, I bid you adieu…
Thursday, 23 April 2009
You know you've been in Uganda too long when...
I will probably need to explain a couple of things:
- 'Flashing' or 'Beeping' refers to one of the habits I find most frustrating in Uganda - people want to talk to you on the phone, but they don't want to actually pay for this privilege. So they call you, let the phone ring once and then hang up, so you see a missed call. You are then supposed to call them back and pay for the conversation they want to have with you. It is standard practice here, even amongst staff, and drives me nuts, because I think it's so rude. Also pointless - if everyone just paid for their own calls to start with, it would all even out in the wash!
- Airtime, is credit on your phone (called Load in the Philippines).
- CHOGM - the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting - held bi-annually and the last one was in Uganda, at the end of 2007. There was a frenzy of preparation for it, including building many hotels that specialise in empty rooms, beautifying the city and indulging in some serious Queen love. Kampala was full of ads with the tag line "Uganda is Ready for CHOGM" and it became a catchphrase.
- Marabou storks are massive and incredibly ugly birds that live in Kampala and eat rubbish (literally - they eat trash). They are disgusting
- Umeme is the power company
- boda bodas are the taxis that drive around towns with passengers, generally piloted by kamikaze riders with no regard for anyone else on the road. They have quite a high death rate.
Without further ado...You know you are been in Uganda too long when...
…driving, you find yourself using your turn signals as means of communication....'the road is too thin', 'don't overtake (pass me) there is a BUS coming', 'No I'm NOT going to turn here', 'whoopee, we won the football!'
…you no longer get annoyed when people lie to you and make promises they can't possibly keep
…seeing someone speeding towards you in the wrong lane seems completely normal
…Your phone rings and it is a wrong number and you can keep the Hello? Hello? Hello? Hello's going back and forth like a tennis match until eventually the caller realises you are the wrong number and abruptly hangs up, after spending at least 2 minutes worth of airtime!
…You find yourself pointing with your lips and saying "yes" by raising both eyebrows.
…You can masterfully employ a variety of "Eh!" and "Eh eh!" noises to convey a range of meanings
…You know "Come back tomorrow at 10:00 a.m." means whatever you're trying to get done is NEVER going to happen
…You start using the words "even" and "ever" in places you never would have ("Even me, I'm feeling hungry," or "I have ever done that")
…You start referring to people as "this one" or "that one"
…You know you've what? been in Uganda a long time....when you what? Start each sentence as a question and proceed to what? Answer it yourself!
…You've figured out the Ugandan difference between food and snacks
…someone asks you "How is there?" You reply "It is there...
…You willingly drive into oncoming traffic just to avoid the potholes
…A car isn't full unless it has at least 7 people in it
…you can speak Uganglish so well that - you talk with a Ugandan accent; use words like 'shocked,' 'fearing,' 'extend,' 'balance,' ''somehow,' 'even me,' and 'can you imagine' and 'are you sure?' far too often...
…someone "flashes" your phone you just flash them back and wait for them to flash you back and then you flash them back and then they flash you back and....
…you know the load shedding schedule by heart
…you keep a jerry can full of water around, just in case…
…you feel exposed without bars on your windows
…When you come back from being out of the country and conversations go as:
Them: "you have been lost!!" and your response: "I have been found!"
Them: "how is there?" and you: "there is fine!"
Them: "you have gone fat!!!" and you are lost for words because you are not used to be told so with such frankness!!
…You emphasize how you like something and they say: "Are you sure?"
…you are asked how you are and your response is: "Me I am fine, how are you?"
…someone calls out your name and your reply is: "I am the one!"
…you end the conversation with "ok please!"
…your knees ache from squatting over a long drop 4 times a day as a result of a parasite living in your intestines
…it's 28 degrees outside and there are people wearing parkas ("jumpers"?) and stocking caps
…You ask for someone, and you know the answer "He's within" means everything from "He's within the building" to "He's within the city" or even "He's within the country".
….you refer to others as 'you people' and don't intend to be rude
…you start sentences with 'As for me, I ….'
…you stop using those little 'off' or 'up' bits of verbs. You pick people. And you drop them.
…you get 'Fine' as a reply to your 'hello'.
…'nownow' means sometime soon, possibly in the next day or two, whereas 'now' means anytime in the next month.
….'moving' becomes 'shifting' (but you move with people rather than hang out with them)
…you stand in a line and feel something is very wrong because it is orderly and the person behind you respects your personal space...
…"ok" punctuates, modifies, tags and answers almost every sentence.
…"Bambi", said with that humble look, becomes your standard expression of sympathy.
…you use the term "just there" to mean on the other side of the city
…"first let me come" or "first wait" makes perfect sense to you
…at the end of a meeting, people say, "Ok Please" as opposed to good bye or have a nice one.
…your stories always have an "eh?" to make sure the people are listening
…you say SORRY! when someone hurts themselves through no fault of yours
…you call white people "muzungu" and forget that you yourself are white....
…you go to a restaurant and order something off the menu and the waiter/waitress looks you right in the eye and says "We don't have that one
…walking by a uniformed officer carrying an assault rifle is completely normal
…you are Ready For CHOGM
…Clothes becomes a two-syllable word. Clo - thes.
…You know the man asking for Lose actually refers to Rose. And when
someone says "let's play" you should stay seated.
…you don't get confused even though the person you're talking to keeps mixing up 'he' and 'she' in the same sentence talking about the same person.
…you are reluctant to let go of a new, CLEAN 1000 shilling note.
…your home does not have an address.
…your handshakes last an entire conversation
…next to a public phone at the bottom of the call cost there is a charge for beeping
…marriage proposals become a normal and almost expected thing from strangers.
…you have time to grab lunch while the bank teller cashes your check.
…you stop noticing how ugly marabou storks actually are
…you think the taxi you're about to enter is too full but the conductor will squeeze you in and let you sit where he was sitting but then he will be standing over you with his bad body odor.
…You have 9 x 10,000UGX bills and you wrap the 10th one around it and put it in your wallet.
…being given a "push" has nothing to do with "push and shove", but being escorted to your car after a visit....
…You lie on the phone that you are about to arrive for a meeting…yet you've not yet left you're home, forgetting that someone can do the mathematics and be able to tell that you lied!
…You have constant power supply at your house for a week. It leaves you thinking Umeme is not doing its work right. Supplying darkness instead of light.
…people walk into your house and you say "You are all most welcome!"
…you are making a verbal list and trail off saying "what, what.."
…you start calling inanimate objects "stubborn" when they don't work well
…you always use your big notes despite the fact that you have the exact change.
…you think "eh" in a high pitch tone is the correct way to respond when a boda drivers price suggestion is too high.
…umbrellas are not for rain but for the shunshine
Q: why do boda boda drivers wear helmets?
A: because of the passengers whacking them on the head to slow them down.
Thursday, 9 April 2009
And still more pictures...
This is from my birthday in February- I took my camera and took a photo of the table when we arrived, because it looked so beautiful (all formal place settings for 25 with wonderful flowers) then forgot about it until the end of the night, so have no actual pictures of the dinner!! But someone took this at the cake moment and although it's a lousy shot, I think it shows how long my hair is getting...
With Kim, one of my very best friends here, at a Christmas party last December. Kim lived in Russia for six years, so is a vodka afficionado (!) She was also a Godsend when we went to St Petersburg last year - not only did she give extensive lists of which restaurants to go to, she gave us lists of what to order! Everyone has those people with whom they immediately click and become so close to - Kim is one of those for me and I will miss her greatly when we no longer live in the same city.
Just wait until your Father sees you!! (family in-joke!) My car in Karamoja last year. It takes beatings for me again and again and keeps coming up roses (well - until someone else took it to Karamoja a few months ago and blew up the engine - it is currently still in for extensive surgery). This trip was amazing - it poured with rain as we drove in and we passed so many cars stuck in the mud...I was nervous because we only had my Prado, not one of the Landcruisers, fitted with mud tyres and an electric winch, and many prayers were said as we drove through bogs. Returning, we left on the Friday night as Bob's father was very ill and he needed to get back to Nairobi...we drove out through insane pouring rain and even continued on to Kampala that night (I was driving whilst the driver napped in the passenger seat and Bob kept commenting how much tiring it was sitting in the backseat than driving - although he declined my frequent suggestions that we swap places to alleviate his fatigue - I had a hard time exercising a modicum of restraint!) We arrive around midnight (greatly violating security protocols, but I was so glad not to have to sleep in Mbale) and I collapsed into bed exhausted, then got a phone call from our Security Manger the next morning - we had about six cars trying to also get out and just getting perpetually stuck in the mud - they kept driving and finally arrived in Kampala over 24 hours later, on Sunday morning. I was SO grateful that we had left the Friday night - those 12 fewer hours of rain really saved us!
That mud is so thick it totally obscured our logo on the door (for security reasons, all NGO cars have their logos on their doors, as evidenced by the UN car behind us) - it demonstrated the point that Louis had made a week before about larger logos on the doors aptly!!
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
while the men stand around supervising...
I'm not leaving anything out. What you see is what you get...
Bettina and I (in traditional dress) with Dez at his traditional wedding, in his wife's village. That day was an amazing saga - I should try to write the story sometime as it was surreal...
Wednesday, 11 March 2009
Geoffrey (our Water Engineer) and myself distributing relief supplies during the flood response, Soroti, 2007 (no comments about stupid hats, please - it is hot and I burn too easily!)
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
Drop the Pressure
Many friends here are off on adventures soon - Sam, Kenny and Julia are going to climb Kilimanjaro on Saturday (I could have gone, but can't really afford a week away from the office at this point, plus...a week without washing? Not really me?!?!) And Charlie is heading to Antigua for a fortnight (me? jealous? Not in the slightest - what makes you ask that!!) I guess I am (hopefully) going to Sth Africa in six weeks for Level Two Security Training (the one where they practice abducting you and holding you hostage etc...should be oodles of fun) so who am I to be jealous?
As part of my attempt to "do stuff other than work" I have started doing personal training with Remmy (the husband of Bettina, my fellow Program Officer and general saving grace). He has succesfully killed me twice now (amazing revival, hey?!) but it's good. He is such a sweetie and very encouraging as he is dragging me up and down hills. I will keep plugging away at this and see if I can't regain some of my former fitness (running 8km kills me about now, and that used to be my standard morning run).
One fun thing...we are now working longer hours on Monday to Thursday, then supposed to leave the office at 2.00 p.m. on Fridays. I have not yet managed this, of course, but it is a wonderfully tantalising prospect, and am hoping to do it this Friday, as it is my birthday - Bettina and I are going to go for Devonshire Tea at the tearoom run by the British wife of the Doctor here - I cannot WAIT!!
Okay...back to it...