Saturday, February 2, 2013

(No such thing as) A Typical Wednesday

My alarm clock this morning was the mating ritual of two street cats on my roof just above my window. Lovely. I fell back asleep and an hour later I got up to take a shower. Had just put in enough shampoo in my hair when the water ran out. Awesome. But, then I went and filled up a pot of water from our drinking supply and brought it back to the shower to rinse my hair. Just as soon as I had become sufficiently frigid from the cold water and cold morning hair, I heard the water pump come on, allowing the municipal water supply to fill up our tanks. The shower water was back on within seconds. Yay!

As soon as I stepped out of the shower, however, I began to feel sick at my stomach. I lied down for a few more minutes, but I had to go to Makumira University to give my composition class their term exams. So, Jimmy picked me up and we took the 30 minute drive to campus. By that point, I was feeling significantly nauseous, but ascended the four flights of stairs to the classroom. I managed to administer the exam, but excused myself to throw up in the bathroom three times. Woohoo!  

On the way back from the university, a police man stopped my and Jimmy’s car. This is quite common here—police checks to ensure you have all your insurance stickers, registration tags, seatbelt on, fire extinguisher in the car; and if you don’t have all that then you just pay them off and go on with your life. Today however, this was the dialogue (in Swahili):

Jimmy: Good morning, sir
Danielle: How are you, sir?
Police: Hello, good morning! How are you? What’s your name (to me)
Danielle: My name is Sarah (I just didn’t feel like giving him my usual name)
Police: Oh sarah! My name is Joshua! Where are you going?
Danielle: To my home, in town.
Police: In town, yes? Ok Danielle, What’s your tribe? (asking in a joking way)
Danielle: confused, not understanding the Swahili word for “tribe”
Jimmy: Dani, say “wachugga” (Jimmy’s tribe)
Danielle: Oh, I am wa-America (a joke)
Police: laughing, what’s your name? (to jimmy)
Jimmy: Jimmy
Police: cool, I want to arrest you, you know (another joke, at which Jimmy laughs and I try not to look confused)
Jimmy: We are both teachers at Makumira University (Jimmy is not a teacher)
Danielle: nods in agreement
Police: Oh teachers! Ok, cool. Have a good day then
Danielle and Jimmy: ok you too, thanks

As soon as we left, I just laughed. I asked Jimmy “what on EARTH was the point of that? He just wanted friends?” Jimmy agreed, saying that the police are bored, need to look like they’re busy doing something, and at least he was a friendly guy.
I then started asking Jimmy why when I said, “shikamoo” to the police officer (a greeting of respect), the officer didn’t respond with “marahaba” (the response to shikamoo). Here was the conversation:

Jimmy: when you say Shikamoo, it means you are talking to someone who is more aged than you.
Danielle: someone older, you mean
Jimmy: yes, so when you say it, it means like you are really talking to someone like your father
Danielle: ok, I thought it was just a greeting of respect, and plus, the police officer was older than me
Jimmy: yes, but after you say “shikamoo” it means that the other person cannot approach you
Danielle: ……………………. Understands what jimmy means ………… so you mean, he can’t flirt with me if he acknowledges the shikamoo
Jimmy: right.

I absolutely love the way jimmy breaks things down for me here.
Just another typical Wednesday morning….

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