Monday, October 20, 2008

Programming woes

I need credibility around here, because people are unlikely to listen to a stranger as well as they might listen to a friend. This goes double for a sensitive topic like HIV (it is called umbulalave here, which means "the nation-killer"). Ergo, I am going to try to get a post as a science or english teacher at the local high school.

Questions and answers:
Michelle - My host family goes through my trash pretty regular-like. People stare freely, but are shy about speaking. One can't ask about sex, of course, but it's common practice to ask about family and if one is going to marry in Swaziland. "I want to marry your sister" is a very common one, as well as old people and children asking for money, as it is a cultural assumption that all white people are wealthy (middle-aged people and youth almost never do this for some reason). Conversation about the weather is polite, but it is more appropriate to be dissatisfied than happy for some reason. There seems to be no happy medium whatsoever between "Kumakata" (It's cold) and "Lilanga liyashisa" (The sun is hot). See also the response to Greg's question on greetings.

It's worth observing that white women are the subjects of a lot of unwanted attention, may God have mercy on their souls.

Greg - It would certainly be rude not to greet someone in your town if you passed them on foot. I have been called out on one occasion and questioned as to why I was did not greet someone, actually. On the other hand, it is not too bad if you just wave and go by, and you are not obligated to greet people in the cities, only in the villages. There are usually not too many people outside, and homesteads are sometimes widely spaced, so it doesn't take too terribly long, especially if you don't speak enough siSwati to have a long conversation. It also helps to walk quickly, so that people realize you are in a hurry to get somewhere. It's really pretty okay unless you're already having a bad day, at which point it becomes rather irritating : )

Jalal - I'm getting in touch with the Baha'is, but I haven't been teaching much. Frankly, I feel like an ass whenever I try to teach by opening my mouth, so my usual impulse is to shut it. I'm eager to see how I can help the Baha'is of Swaziland, but I don't think much of my past efforts to speak about the Faith.

Other news:
We got some office supplies! Sticky-tack and a hole punch and a stapler.
Our new stapler nearly bit my hand off when I tried to load it, so we've christened it "Lambile" (Hungry). The hole punch is "Sutsi" (Full) because you have to make an effort to get it to bite.

A powerful wind blew my latrine over. The entire housing (basically a large metal box with an open bottom) fell on its side, leaving the seat exposed to the fury of the elements. The wind also drove grit under my door and through my window (which will not quite close, thanks to Peace Corps' security improvements). My family righted it the next day, but I can't help but worry if this is going to go on. My family is great and does a lot for me, like fetching water and fixing the pit latrine, and won't hear of taking money for it. I feel guilty, but I can't really do anything but give them food (because food is very difficult to politely refuse in Swaziland, one can only say "I am full, thank you").

No comments: