Wednesday, June 17, 2009

my damn bathroom

The past couple of days have been interesting, to say the least. I finally have water back in my apartment after I lost both water and my toilet broke late last week. A plumber came through and fixed the problems with the water flow and my toilet, but ended up leaving a load of mud, rust and standing water on the floor. Needless to say, I wasn't able to make use of my bathroom for most of the weekend. I mopped up what I could and put in a request with the lodge staff for a more thorough cleaning, which I got on Monday. But, while I was at work on Monday, my shower sprang a leak and my bathroom was reflooded with about 2.5 inches of standing water. The staff came in and pumped the water out, but in the process, I lost water connection. I got water back this morning, but I was running late so I've yet to shower since sunday...feeling a little crunchy.

In addition, internet connection in the office has been shameful. This post has taken over an hour and a half to make because the internet connection would drop whenever I would try to sign in. It takes between 5 and 10 minutes to send an email because of signal dropping, and that doesn't include lost time due to continually trying to open up email messages, so my average read and response time for a single email varies between 10 and 25 minutes. I'm ready to smash my head against a desk. But in between waiting for my email to load up I've been working on rearranging and coordinating all of our project files, which is my primary duty right now...that's about as exciting as it sounds. I spend hours going through semi-disorganized folders that are either organized by organization it involves, chronology, or just some broad theme. There's a lot of crosslisting and old files that are rough drafts of later drafts. It's quite tedious, but it needs to get done.

One a brighter side, I had an excellent chicken pepper soup last night at this hole in the wall spot on a dirt road somewhere in neighborhood in Calabar. It reminded me of an old fashioned uke joint with a bunch of picnic tables screened off from the street with 3 overhead fans whirring slowly and an old tv blaring Nigerian music videos. The soup nearly blew the top of my head off, it was very spicy but delicious and the rice they served with it helped to cut into the rice a bit. My only complaint was the chicken was surprisingly chewy for a soup but overall an awesome meal. The best I've had since I've been in country, I think. I'm still trying to find some decent goat, but I am quickly losing hope.

Had a great conversation with Alvin and Aus last night where Alvin relayed much of his career and just spoke about development. Alvin's been all over the world, from Russia to Iraq to Jamaica, the man has done work. I find myself gaining more respect for him and for many of his ideas. He's correct in his critique of the general approach many development orgs and some ngos take where they do not approach development with the mindset of business people. As the saying goes,"The business of business is business". Too often development firms come in and don't really work to truly arm business with the ability to sustain themselves after they're gone because they won't work on building a sector, so much as individual businesses. It's kind of an "give people some training, some modern technology and subsidies for two years then let them go". One's goal should be to ultimately liberate folk from needing these subsisdies and being able to be successful and competitive on their own merit, cause that's the only way they're going to get by. He pointed to a lot of successes where good ngos went in with precisely that mentality and worked with folk on all levels to eventually do for self. It's a tricky business, I am learning every day some more ins and outs.

We shall see. I have hope we'll be able to do some good and make sure folk can continue on after we're gone.


I was looking at one of my favorite blogs that doesn't require a lot of bandwith orcinus at dneiwert.blogspot.com and he linked to an article in salon looking at the rising presence of white supremacists in the army and the fact that the military is turning a blindeye to it. I found it interesting considering the recent spate of right wing violence and it once again points to a very worrisome set of conditions that threatens to blow everything up. I have less fear, with each year, that there will be some massive racial civil war, but I am increasingly afraid in a concerted terrorist campaign of "lone wolves" fed by the right wing media hate machine, supported by the many right wing organizations that exist today, and trained by likeminded individuals with extensive combat experience and training. This is the singular domestic terrorism threat we face today and it's only gonna get worse before it gets better. What angers me though, is that no one except for a few lefty-sounding journalists seem to care. Must we wait for another McVeigh to come along before we take it seriously?


Lauren said...

Your bathroom situation sounds rather unfortunate, I really do hope you get an opportunity to shower because "crunchy" just doesn't sound too great... Congrats on finally finding a decent meal, though. But can't you just find a goat wandering around somewhere and make your own feast of it? No, okay, probably not.

Keep learning from these folks, it's a great opportunity. You already know this. Oh, and I'm sure you are doing plenty of good over there.

Cynthia said...

Okay Jamaal!! You know Mommy taught you how tomake the cross when there is no shower: face, arm pits, boo boo!!!!!

Frank said...

just gotta fear domestic terrorism as much as we do foreign.