Monday, 27 April 2009

Party animal

April 25th – 26th

Umuganda again. It seems to come round more and more often. Tom is off to the Burundi border with one of the FHI interns, so I’m on my own all day. A nice relaxing time. I go to the market and make up a massive coleslaw to take to Irene’s party in the evening. On a whim I put some chicken madras curry powder in it and it lifts it nicely!

Irene’s do is a cool party; but it’s the one party where I’d definitely expect to go clubbing afterwards – but we don’t. There’s good food, including brochettes made with some kind of cheese that when it’s grilled fluffs up like savoury marshmallow. Absolutely melt in the mouth.

I’m supposed to be sleeping at Kersti’s, but Nidhi’s friend Jacob is totally wasted as a result of late nights and early starts and a school trip to Akagera. By mid way through the evening he’s out for the count, and on “my” bed. So I go home with Nidhi and sleep in her spare room. She lives right in the middle of Kigali, barely a couple of hundred yards from the main bus park. Couldn’t be more convenient!

Sonya is at the party; there’s been a reception at the house of the Irish ambassador or chargé d’affaires in Kigali. She’s gobsmacked at the luxury these diplomatic types live ion, and the extent to which they’re all insulated from and ignorant of the daily realities of Rwandan life which we all face as volunteers. I reckon we know far more than they ever will about the daily grind in the countryside!

Becky, the new volunteer, has only been in the country for 48 hours, and is sitting in “Beau Séjour” guesthouse with nothing to do. She’s been to present herself to the Canadian chargé, but that only takes a few minutes. So I ring her up and Épi and I walk the few hundred yards from Kersti’s place to the guest house and bring her to the party. Within a few minutes she’s met three serving VSOs and two or more former ones, and she’s beginning to get integrated into the gang. It really is the pits for volunteers who come on their own in between the main group arrivals. There’s no inc-country briefing and no chance to bond with friends. And the people you arrive with become your closest friends and allies during your time here.

Nidhi and I take a taxi to her place around half past two, dropping Sonya off at the place she’s crashing in on the way.

Sunday is a late start to the morning, and a leisurely chat with Nidhi before making my way back to Kigali. Back home I’m tired, but manage to get a bit of Office work done so while away the time before our evening meal.

Tonight we’re trying the “Green Garden”, which scores well on every count when there are just a couple of you using it. And it's only a few hundred yards up the road from us.

With twelve people it’s a different story. We wait for two and a half hours for our food. When it comes it is good, and they’ve got the orders all correct, but by the time we’re eating we’re mostly past hunger. We decide that next week we’ll come in and warn them earlier in the day so they can at least start to get stuff ready. This wretched Rwandan tendency to work on tiny margins so that they’ve barely got the charcoal stoves lit just in case nobody orders food and they’ve wasted fuel in vain…..

All in all it’s been a good weekend. And I’ve got a full day of work at the office tomorrow, so I feel relaxed and unstressed.

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