There is a significant degree of oddity in my life abroad. It’s being transmitted on all channels to me: visually, verbally, sensory. I’m doing the Tanzanian “club handshake” at least three times a day and have become pretty proficient at it. There is also the “stroke shake” I mostly get from women: a not-to-firm handshake followed by a soft and sliding release. Eating by hand doesn’t remind me of childhood anymore. Sneezing is not commented. By either party. Took quite some time to get used to.
“Be patriotic – spread love” is the tagline of my favorite Dar radio station 102.5 Choice FM and I’ve been racking my brain what it could mean. Is it the call for moderation ahead of the national election? Is it a national family planning slogan? 102.5 FM is a youth radio. Could it be simply a slogan that sounds cool and nothing more? I don’t know.
“Call over” is another term that does not even remotely mean what it sounds like: it is the reconciliation process in banking.
Tanzanians seem to have an inclination to mix “R” and “L” , so there currently is a “Chorela” epidemy in Dar and guy named “Majula” joined today’s workshop. I’ve had to “collect the sperring” as you can see from the picture.
Ever since I’ve seen women crushing stones by hand in Uganda Avenue and googled it I’ve been followed by ads of professional stone-crushing machines on my mobile phone. The oddity here is that the woman should be doing it outside town in a quarry instead in the upscale ward of Msasani.
Some people sell coins. Customers pay TZS 1000 for 800 worth of coins. In my eyes a fantastic business for the seller but I can’t see any buyer benefitting from such a deal. Turns out bus conductors are in constant need of coins.
Meanwhile I find it totally OK to put excavated material on the side of the road if a ditch is dug. Why call an expensive truck to transport the excavated material somewhere else and later back again.
A wheelbarrow in the middle of the road signifies that some people are sweeping the road. Dangerous practice on a 4-lane road.
If small children board a public crowded bus it is perfectly normal to grab them and place them on your lap. Or the edge of a seat is shared with a skinny one.
Coffee boys carry a metal coffee pot on hot coals and serve coffee shots for TZS 200 (10 US cents) each. But only in the evenings as Tanzanians drink tea in the morning. (drawing by Sarah Markes on darsketches)
A week without power is perfectly normal. The only oddity here is that it was announced and that a reason was given by Tanzania’s power company: they are trying to bring a new gas power plant online.
I see less and less odd things these days. Is it advanced habituation after 10 weeks of immersion?