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It's not Negativity, But Just the Way It Is

I was finishing my last class today, in our baking oven -style classroom, where the computers churn and add even extra heat to the already impossible work environment. I'd sent the girls home- my favourite class, the tailoring section girls, most of them who've never even seen a computer before, and who are now getting excited after discovering the thrill of copying and pasting their name fifteen times in a row.
I looked out. The sky had gone dark. "Andrew," I said, poking my head out the window, "I think it's going to rain."
He didn't look up. "No. The rains only come at the end of the month, you silly white girl". He turned the page in the paper and dismissed me with a hand wave. I looked out again, this time actually stepping outside.
"Andrew," I shouted, "I might just be a silly mzungu girl, but unless someone is spitting from the roof, it's started raining."

The sky simply opened up, and the big fat raindrops made the dry dust momentarily fly everywhere. Soon, the whole yard was drenched. I had planned on leaving and coming to the internet, which now looked impossible. I frowned.
"So", I said, "what do we do when it rains?" I had already listed all the possible cab numbers on my phone. Andrew looked up from the paper, indifferent to my internet problems, and said, "We wait. If it rains, it'll eventually stop."

Welcome to the world of zambian thinking. If the car is not here, the car must be somewhere else. If the computer is broken, we can't use it. Wrong. My thinking is: If the car is not here, find out where it is, and get it here. If the computer is broken, we need to fix it.
It seems that I do, sometimes (or actually, most of the time) live in a sphere completely different to the zambians. When I got to the internet today, one of the computers was free, but no one was sitting there, despite the queue of people. "Is that one broken?" I asked. People clucked their tongues in a way that says Noooooo........but I don't really know. Someone pointed out, helpfully, that the computer was locked by the administrator. I turned around to the woman attending to the library. "Can you unlock this one for us, please?" She looked surprised. "Sure" she said, "here you go."

Although it is easy to get frustrated, as I often do in my normal life in the UK, you know, when trains are delayed for five minutes, or the shop has the skirt I want in my size but not in the colour I want, I think I'm much better here. I have accepted certain truths. If the bus can break down, it will break down. Unless you are early, in which case the bus will speed through, knocking out a few unsuspecting pedestrians at the end of the food chain, and you'll be there ridiculously early, waiting for a zambian who'll stroll in at least an hour late. It like the universal law of bus windows, which came to me one very cold night riding from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a few years ago; if it's hot, the windows won't open. If it's freezing, the windows will be stuck and won't shut. I dare any backpacker to dispute this.

But, as it is, I am running late of my dinner of maize porridge (nshima) and vegetables (probably impwa today, as it's my favourite) and I bet the bus will hang around the bus stop forever, just waiting for it to fill up. It's not negativity, it's just the way things are.

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Cooking dinner outside during one of the many power-cuts; chicken feet cooked for the kids, and catepillars, which are surprisingly tasty.

Posted by Ofelia 01:50 Archived in Zambia Tagged volunteer

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