28 March 2007

Updates on Nairobi

Life has gotten chilly here in Nairobi. Well, chilly for us. This is my very first time on the southern hemisphere (across the equator). And, I am embarrassed to admit I have learned that whole ‘which way the water drains’ thing is true. I had thought it was a myth at one point, but it’s true. That is actually how I realized I had crossed the equator. I know, dense; but it was so rushed the move and all I didn’t really think about it. Then, while watching the bath drain I was confused for a moment because it didn’t seem ‘right.’ Then, it hit me. Crossing the equator not only affects drains, but seasons. So as you warm up heading into Spring, we are heading into Fall, and it’s getting cooler. Granted, it doesn’t get as cool here as where most of you are—but it is getting cooler. Some people actually wore socks today!

I have come to a realization as to why I don’t necessarily like being in Nairobi or the fact that it just doesn’t feel ‘right.’ Aside from the obvious, e.g. I was deported with little notice and loved Ethiopia, something else bothers me about Nairobi. I’ve been trying to figure it out. It’s not like it’s a bad town, and I’ve lived in cities before. Never one quite this big, but it’s not like I see much of it anyway. So what is it that bothers me? The answer, the lack of sacrifice. I know that sounds crazy, and possibly is—but I am used to sacrifice. When I have a job, and am working somewhere, part of that job is the sacrifice of where you live. You have to give up ‘comforts’ and things you are used to. You give up foods you like, choice in diet, drinking water from the tap, flushing toilets, nice showers, sleeping in comfortable beds, understanding conversation around you, a social life, etc etc. It depends on where you are, but you are always sacrificing. However, here in Nairobi there is no sacrifice needed. In fact, I guarantee whatever lifestyle you are leading where you are, you can do it here. There are movie theatres with the latest releases, grocery stores with everything, DVD/Video rental stores, gyms, spas, and most everything is in English. There are people like you (e.g. other Americans, not just other foreigners but other Americans). You could live in Nairobi for 20 years and really never know you were ‘in Africa,’ as we all picture it. Everything you could need or want is here. You would only realize you weren’t in the US when you had to call home for fly home. That’s it. But, everyone uses Skype or other programmes like that so it’s cheap to call.
So, basically, because I don’t have to sacrifice anything right now, I don’t feel like I am really working. They go hand in hand in my world; if you are doing a job you love you are sacrificing other things you love. To be here, in Nairobi, where I don’t have to sacrifice a thing, it’s just weird. Once I realized this is what was tripping me up, I have grown a bit more accustom to my surroundings, but it does still feel ‘wrong’ somehow. I realize this is short term for me, and soon enough I’ll be back in Ethiopia where sacrifices are needed, part and parcel of daily life, so I am trying to enjoy it now, not run from it. It was almost like a form of culture shock to come here, but I was not expecting it. Nairobi is like any major city in the US. You won’t find exactly the same brands, and no baseball games, but as far as daily life, everything is available for you.

Lastly, I want to comment on a comment. On my blog a man named Kraig commented on the article I wrote on Twic. However he wanted to know where Twic was in South Sudan. To be honest, I didn’t know—but after consulting with one of our health staff, I have learned the following. Twic is in Warrap or Bargh-el-Ghazal. I doubt that helps many of you, but this goes out to those who know a bit about South Sudan.

On a side note, I went to Kraigs blog and it’s brilliant. Check it out newseedofsudan.wordpress.com

Okay—hope you can see the pictures of Lempaute. Enjoy your day,

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There's an episode of the Simpsons where they go to Australia so Bart can be punished (booted) for running up a huge international phone bill. They stay in the US embassy where all of the bathrooms are fitted with special gizmos to keep the toilet bowls flushing in the "correct" direction so that people don't get homesick. I am sure in a city like Nairobi, someone must have one of those that you can use.