Thursday, 8 November 2012

The hottest yet

Thursday November 8th

I realise I will not receive, nor do I expect, any sympathy from my readers in the frozen UK, but today was the hottest yet.  When the Tanzanians start flaking out and complaining about the oppressive heat, what chance does a simple mzungu have? I know I’ll regret this statement as soon as I get off the plane at Leeds/Bradford, but at least when it is cold you can add a layer, I had no options left.

Today was my Kiswahili day and I broke the rule straight away.  I've said many times how hard the kids work and how their discipline is excellent but I am afraid that they do have the ‘pole pole’ (slowly slowly) habit.  You've seen Dixon and his bell and it’s certainly loud enough, but ten minutes after the lesson was due to start, they were still drifting back in from break.  The same happens at the start of the day and in fact at any change of lesson and there is no excuse because they have all their lessons in the same room.  I had another growl, did the maths to show they wasted 22 days a year and then we settled down to a lesson of total Kiswahili ‘ila’ (except) ‘maneno’ (words) mathematical as they need to know these for the examination.  I prepared the lesson in my planner as normal and then tried to pre-guess what words of Swahili I would need.  (Sorry I should have said, Kiswahili is the Swahili word for Swahili).  Some words I learnt, mainly the verbs I needed, others I wrote on a crib sheet and between them, and a dictionary I have downloaded onto my Kindle, things went well.  We were doing Arithmetic Progressions, if that means anything from the dim and distant past, and my numbers and ordinal numbers (1st , 2nd etc) are good, so I had to learn the words for add, subtract etc and as I knew a lot of the basic classroom words like listen, sit down, get on etc it wasn’t too difficult.  In fact the students were slipping up more than me and needed reminding.  My little game must be having some effect though because the next double lesson they had no teacher and, as I can hear them from next door, I was intrigued to hear Fatumu delivering a lesson in English and insisting that all questions and contributions were in the same language.

Fatuma on the left, with Tumaini (a Masai) and Luiana

Mr Masui invited me in to his office for another Tanzanian delicacy made with maize flour and some sort of pea this time, but I grabbed my water as we went in and politely turned down the offer of a cup of ‘chai’ to accompany it.

Got back home and, surprise surprise, there was no electricity, but this time the fault lay with the centre and not with the electricity board.  They seem to be on some sort of pay as you go meter, and once again the mobile phone comes into its own.  As far as I can work out, you go to a finance office, like the stationers where I print my pichas, pay your bill and a text arrives with a 16 digit number.  You go home, punch this code into the keypad on your electricity meter and the power comes on.

Spag Bol for dinner tonight. Wow!!  After my successes of the day, as I sat recovering outside my room, I shouted across to Vicky, who doesn't speak English, to ask what the options were for food tonight, and she offered spaghetti!  They have no grinder but I suggested they cut the beef as small as possible and with a mixture of tomatoes and garlic in the sauce with a garnish of julienne of peppers, it was certainly a positive addition to the menu and a very good attempt.  The big Masai turned up whilst I was eating so I was at least able to salve my conscience and return the offer of a drink, which he readily accepted.

All bills paid so no need to go to Tanga tomorrow therefore I am hoping to slip along and have a look at my little ‘canaries’ in action at the local primary school.  It certainly has good reports and Mr Bakari informs me that his two go there, so it should be worth a look.  I’ll let you know.

One final though for the day.  I’m glad I didn't do any more experimenting with language at my friendly barbers.  I must admit I do sometimes tend to add an i to the English word and test the water to see if that is acceptable, but on scanning through the dictionary in my Kindel, I note that ‘kutahiri’ actually means ‘to circumcise’.  Ouch!!


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