Sunday, October 30, 2005

the scene

So from a foreigner’s point of view, here’s what I can tell you about the politics and the current scene in Ethiopia right now.

1. Meles the Assumer. He assumes he’s still in power by assuming he won the election thereby assuming to know about democracy. Inherent in democracy is the voice of the people and this is something Meles has chosen to ignore. The people do not accept Meles as their leader and you can feel it walking down the street.

  1. The CUD aka Kinijit. Most of the time, the CUD are described as the opposition however given what the EU observers have said about the electoral process, the CUD are actually supposed to be the ruling party. The CUD has been very smart and timely in strategizing their next moves. As of Monday, they have asked that people honk from 8 to 830 a.m. to signal to the visiting African Union delegates that the people do not consider Meles a legitimate leader and neither should the AU. Following the Muslim Ramadan (the beginning of November), there will be a five day strike.

Questions remain: What will happen after the strike? How will Meles react - with reason or with guns? Will the CUD gain power? What will this mean for the country? Is this the revolution the people have been waiting for?

reasons to love this country cont...

  1. Axumite Sweet Red Wine - every bottle is different.
  1. endaaaaaay! (fun to hear and fun to say…try it)
  1. ferfer – who knew spicy breakfast could be this good
  1. mini buses – I think Dufferin could definitely use a few.
  1. fake label clothes – my personal favourite: Chanef
  1. dances involving plenty of shoulder shimmies and shakes – quite possibly the origin of break dancing
  1. eating with your hands
  1. coffee and cafes
  1. a language full of commands. sema! (listen) cooch bal (sit down) tenniss (stand up) na (come). Forget “would you mind coming over here for a moment”. It’s ‘na’. Na na na na.
Other reasons

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

missing: one cousin

Blonde, blue eyes. Age: 26. Last seen in Vancity probably. She emailed me at one time or another. But her emails have become less frequent and so I am concerned. If you have heard from her or are, in fact, her but are too buuuuusy to send a note or three to your cousin, get on it.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

the art of handwashing

You’re probably wondering how we do laundry here in ol’ Ethiopia. There is no laundromat to spend countless hours in watching the clothes go round and round. And there are very few people who have washing machines. Generally, people have lovely servant girls to wash the dirty, the semi-clean and the dainties. We take our laundry to T’s dad’s house (they said it was okay). It was a big deal when they got a washing machine recently. It’s an interesting contraption and requires you to switch the clothes to a new twirly compartment when it’s time for the spin cycle.

It was all fine and good until one day my underwear began to be rejected. I took this personally of course. I can’t see my dirty underwear being any different from anyone else’s. I’m not willing to experiment with this theory in the streets though so I began to remove my underwear from the laundry pile. Occasionally the odd pair would be hidden amongst the jeans and I’d go to pick up our clean stuff and there would be an embarrassing little pile of my (yes, dirty) underwear. Needless to say, I’ve become vigilant in the sorting. And very good at handwashing.

I realize there are multiple ways for you to think I’m koshasha. I’m willing to take that risk.

Friday, October 21, 2005

i was just walking along, minding my own business when...

The things I hear/have heard when walking down the street:

§ hey

§ ugh, ugh

§ you

§ I love you

§ I love you America

§ beautiful

§ How are you? Are you fine?

§ (slap on shoulder from a drunk man) Russia!

§ fereng (foreigner)

§ ferengwa (girl foreigner)

§ deuna neush? (are you good?)

§ neuċh (white)

§ what time is it?

§ what is your name?

§ hello

§ hi (sometimes with a thumbs up)

§ money money money

§ one birr

§ tissue madame tissue madame

§ sister

§ you are gorgeous

§ ebakesh (please)

§ dabo (bread)

§ seulam no? (it’s peaceful?)

Thursday, October 20, 2005

hee haw

One of my favourite animals here is...the donkey. In Amharic "eye-ya". Not only are they cute, but they're useful too...

I saw one yesterday with a bloodied swollen hoof. I don't know what happens to the injured ones. Hopefully one of the soldiers wandering the city will put it out of its misery with a gun of some sort.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

on the road

I'm reading On The Road again. If there were some sort of revolutionary generation-defining book to come out right now for our disillusioned time and space, it could change everything.

A career? Not even close to possible for Paradise.

Does spontaneity happen anymore? Is it possible? Has everything been done already?

Where is our violet night?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

mmm baby

baby on enjera

the curse of the greener grass

For a long time, I was searching for something to occupy my days. At certain times, I was at peace with my housewifely status of making lunches, cleaning and baking. Other times, I felt a bit nutty. Now it’s Week 3 of work and the curse has set in. I’m not longing for the days of staying home. But this job! This is a retail store that doesn’t even write a receipt when a sale is made. The owner actually pockets the money from some sales. And the worst part: somehow I care enough to make it better. I don’t know what compels me to stay when all I want to do during the day is slowly jab a finger-sized hole in my eye.

Some of the characters:

  1. the stealer: this was a woman who was very ingratiating when I first arrived (shoulda seen it coming). Then I find out she’s stolen money more than once from the company – even being as ballsy as telling customers a higher price for an item and then pocketing the difference. She’s on the verge of being fired. We’ve issued her a letter so one more mistake and she’s a goner.
  2. the brown tooth guy: he’s a very nice man who has ingested too much fluoride.
  3. the talk talk girl: chubby, funny, not shy, demands I learn Amharic.

I want the stoner guy back. He was the glue in this disaster of a business. I miss his jokes – the one about the too much yellow and feeling like you’re in an egg. Probably had to be there.

I have to compare this job to the others I’ve had. Of course, I’m idealizing all those other jobs. Eldorado – got to be outside on the lake all day. What could be better than that?
Young + Wright – they had a supply of pens for whenever you needed them. What could be better than that?
KFC – one word: poutine. What could be better than that?
The Gap – the ever expanding wardrobe. What could be better than that?
The Daily Express – getting up at 5 in the morning to see the sunrise. What could be better than that?
Andreen's Pharmacy where I worked when I was 14 – having to do a price check on condoms. What could be better than that?

Oh to be happy with less. Here, people’s destinies are pretty much set. A baby born to a homeless mother doesn’t have a lot of options. Someone who works at a café might still be working there 10 years from now. Are they happy? I don’t know. But why do I keep wanting more, more, more when others do with less?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005


i have 42 mosquito bites.