Okay, so what have I been up to in the last week? Let me check my notebook for some good stories.
I’ve been seeing some great parallels to what I’ve learned and read might be happening in foreign Deaf communities – especially ones that have contact with American NGOs. Unfortunately, time and my obligations to the IRB prevent me from detailing these observations, but suffice it to say that I’m glad I’ve come here to get my hands dirty in research.
I finally met up with Nickson, a Deaf Kenyan who just moved back from Washington. We caught up briefly last Saturday and made plans for lunch on Wednesday. We went to an awesome restaurant called Carnivore along the lines of the Brazilian churrascaria. Native meats are skewered and roasted over a large fire and brought to your table for stuff-your-belly-full goodness. On the menu that day were chicken gizzards (which were quite good), ostrich, lamb, and the traditional American meats as well.
I’m sensing that Nairobi will test any American’s patience bone, as schedules here don’t really mean the same thing as they do in the States. KSL shows time largely through indicating a position of the sun, and Kenyan culture embodies such a time gradient very well.
A few of us had some Ethiopian food last night which was tasty and reminded me a bit of my trips to Indian with Sheena while we were still on the Farm. A large communal tortilla-like rice-based flat bread is topped with minced meats and various vegetables and eating is done with the right hand. Reaching across the table is the appropriate way to eat, and ensures you get a taste of everything – and did I!
So regarding the title of this post, I have a story about Kenya’s postal service and how I’ve tried to retrieve a package I had Mom send me. DOOR received a call slip in their PO Box alerting me that the package had arrived, so I set out for the main post office with the slip in hand. Of course, when I got there, I had somehow lost the slip and the tracking number with which to locate the package. The first post office I went to was only for letters and I was redirected across the city to the package sorting facility to find my parcel.
I arrived there and explained my predicament to the clerk who told me that there was little I could do. I didn’t really believe him and pressed to get a more complete answer. Eventually I found myself in a cage with seven workers typing away at machines that had keyboards but weren’t computers (I think someone called it their “typewriter”) and writing records into steno books. Yes, steno books! There’s nothing digital going on here. Hah! I was told that I had to get the USPS tracking number and come back (tomorrow) to search for it that way.
Well “tomorrow” was today and I found myself again at the package sorting facility surrounded by tracking clerks, only this time I was thumbing through the steno books, trying to locate the record of the receipt of my parcel, so that someone could pull it off the shelf. Success was had at last (or so I thought) and I opened the box for the customs folks and got an invoice for 225/= (not even USD4) in tariffs. Of course, as luck would have it, the bank where I have to pay the tariff was closed for the day and I couldn’t leave with my box in hand. I’ll head back on Monday to complete the transaction.
Lastly, I tried to head to church for a youth conference but couldn’t get on a bus in the right direction – in the hour I stood in line, only one bus came to pick up passengers.
That’s all I’ve got for now. Tomorrow is going to be an early day of shopping with my Burundian metrosexual Christian friend. I can’t wait.