Sunday, March 7, 2010

Lewis Carroll comes to Me in Dreams and This is The Result

“I’m late! I’m late! For a very important date! No time to say ‘Hello!’ ‘Goodbye!’ I’m late! I’m late! I’m late!”
…Or so I would be if my name was White Rabbit and I ran around worrying about the direction of the arrows scowling at me from my watch face.
LUCKILY, I’ve opted to take to role of Alice- living more or less in my own Wonderland for countless, consecutive days. Also, I’ve been eating strange foods that make me (okay, just my stomach) grow and others that induce less then optimal shrinkage (AKA excessive bloating and unpredictable body clearing diarrhea). In Wonderland there seems to be no difference in the right and left side of a mushroom that causes stomach pains, just the whole damn thing. As for the cookies, well they taste like stale shortbread and after week-long binges, it does seem that I have grown in a East to West direction (Which when facing West means I am 3 inches closer to home at all time…!)
AT a tea party hosted by the very petite and toothless Mad Hatter (in the form of a 60 year old village farmer grandma) I learned all of the Wonderland gossip. We celebrated the very Merry Un-Birthday of a certain unborn child. After tea, I was pulled aside by a drunken man (not a mouse) and given the most heart-breaking news that he, along with his lover and the unborn Un-Birthday Object of Attention, may all have AIDS. (We have planned to go and see the Great and Powerful “Wizard of Oz” for confirmation, but hat is not until next week and a totally different story).
I shyed away from interactions with the not-so-wise, giant, hookah smoking caterpillar (other wise known as the Masai witchdoctor) but, I did get close enough to listen to his latest magical antics- which included assaulting and ‘cursing’ a village bar owner because he intervened in the pipe smokers plans of a midnight rendezvous with a village bar maid.
THE Queen of Hearts, as it turns out, is only foul tempered when you act like a total idiot. I have learned that when in her Royal Court- or mgahawa- and would like Royal Attention- or food- then manners must be used accordingly. If you happen to be in her Royal Service then do make sure that the kitchen in cleaned, the potatoes are peeled, the bread is baking and the Roses are painted Red before Her Highness awakes from the mandatory afternoon slumber.
TWEEDLE Dee and Tweedle Dum seem to have multiplied in numbers, become an earthy shade of Night, lost the suspenders and found incredibly 1980s fashioned T-Shirts. They are much more shy then I had predicted, but all Fifty (or more) or them, manage to suspend shyness just enough to ask the same question, “Where are you going?” Such a difficult question to answer from my position of perpetually Lost (and Alone).
THANKFULLY, The Cheshire Cat (who’s not really a broad grinned cat, but a whiny, tick covered puppy that pees inside and enjoys long afternoon walks) is able to keep me on track. It seems that no matter where I go he’s there to guide me home- or rather I’m there to tie a rope onto his collar and drag him home crying all the way.
THE Walrus (my Village Executive Officer OR the man who is supposed to be helping me out here) and the Carpenter (the ‘next-in-line’ village government representative appointed, by others, as my liaison) seem both be up to their same old shenanigans, tricking not the oysters but the villagers and anyone with anything worth tricking out of having.
NOW, you may be wondering how it has come to be that I’ve had enough time to check into all of these comings and goings, but, like I said, I’m not the White Rabbit and I do not have a clock to stare me down. Instead I use the sun and moon, or some of the auditory cues that occur on some sort of time schedule (like the bus passing at 3:30 or church choir starting at 5:30). These are my means of telling time and I have found they are very reliable, although I do admit that things were a tad easier before I dropped my phone (the last remaining clock after the watch battery died and rats at the digital alarm clock) into a mug of hot coffee.
WHAT perplexes me, beyond being lost and totally timeless, is that my broken phone was stolen from the Castle of the Queen of Hearts (the mgahawa) by one of the members of the Tweedle Dee and Dum Squad and even though the Walrus and the Carpenter pledged to work it out, they were to distracted with the business of trickery to help. The White Rabbit just ran around yelling and heating people over the head with his watch (which somehow morphed into a large time telling tree branch), in a vain attempt to get, “More timely answers!!!” The hookah smoking, giant caterpillar was too far-gone to be reached for help in any manner (including unnecessary curses). Apparently the Mad Hatter is forced by a recent economic decline to harvest her own tealeaves in order to host her weekly tea parties, and was in the farm doing this when the incident occurred.
FOR now, I am left to identify the culprit Dee or Dum with the help form the Cheshire cat (…, or dog) and Mama Witi, who could never actually be anyone but her own amazing self in any story- tall or true.
THROUGH the Looking Glass and back again, this past hunk of time and space in Wonderland would really be a chapter called, “Biding Time.” Although it makes a good tale, things here are stagnant, and as either Alice or myself, I’m beginning to feel that it's high time to go back up the Rabbit Hole and get into a more ‘normal’ state of reality~ even though being in this perpetual Wonderland never fails to be interesting.

this is a blog that I wrote in February but never posted...just figured I'd throw it up here since I wrote it...

It’s 9:14 pm, do you know where your kids are??
Well, if your kids are Peace Corps volunteers then they are most likely in bed, cause that’s how cool we are.
If your children happen to be Tanzania village kids then they are most likely outside (even though its pitch black and they have no flash light and the only kerosene lamp is being used by you, cause you’re the Mama and you better be cooking) trying to gather or cut fire wood, trying to wash dishes or get water or just sitting outside wishing that you would hurry up and cook already!!
It’s 9:14 pm on a Tuesday night and what is going on in Ikuna village?? Well, every Mama (except Mama Witi and Mama Tekila- cause they are running mgahawas) is at home in front of her respective mode of cooking (for about 95% of these women we can safely assume that is fire via wood…not charcoal, which would make up the other 5%). They are probably stirring corn flour into a boiling pot of water right now. Which sounds like a hell of a lot easier then it is. You gotta stir- with 2 hands griped to “white knuckle strength” and use your upper arms- until every little bump and chunk is out. You gotta be sure that for each mouth you have to feed there damn well better be a size of ugali (what you were just making with that flour and water) equal to the size of their head, cause your family hasn’t eaten for about 8 hours. You better be sure that the leafy greens that you just cooked up in oil with some salt, one tomato and 1/8th of an onion are steaming damn hot, but not burning hot, once the ugali is ready. You also need to have hot water at the ready because before anyone can dig in you or your oldest daughter need to wash the hands of everyone eating- the oldest man first, to the youngest man then the women in the same order. Hopefully you did good and everything will go smoothly, everyone will be full, and you can do the dishes in peace. Unless of course the fire starts getting smoky and your husband starts getting aggravated, or you get a random late night guest, or really only God knows what could happen.
This is all going on, right now as I lay in my bed typing these words, listening to Blues Traveler, and wondering how Mama Witi got so lucky…or did she?
Right now she is at the mgahawa with at least 20 people crowding that 25ft X25ft room. The generator is running and they are watching “The 10 Commandments” dubbed in Swahili while Mama Witi cuts dough to make fried bread, fries the bread, all the while Benja is tied to her back. Meanwhile Witi is serving all of the customers and Tuma (the new helper!) is sitting around a ring of blazing hot charcoal “stoves” (imagine a portable fire pit in the US, but its maybe 1 ft tall and 1 ft in diameter), cooking up tea, chips, chips and eggs, warming food, and trying to finish cooking the bread that is always supposed to be for tomorrow, but will be consumed tonight.
Right now Chuzi, their next door entrepreneur, is selling liters of moonshine by kerosene lamps and listening to so crappy “Bongo Flavor” music. He’s trying to make the room stop spinning, which isn’t going to happen any time soon considering the amount of moonshine he’s consumed in drastic contrast to the lack of food.
All at the same time Suzie, my little 8 year old cutie, is at her house cooking dinner for her grandma, the last living relative she’s got. The two of them eat together every night in the vast emptiness of their large cooking area, sitting in the smoky room, unfazed by the rats lurking in the corner, trying to make conversation stretch from one to little to understand and one too old to break the beautiful innocence of childhood. Next month marks the anniversary of Suzie’s mothers death from AIDS.
It’s Tuesday night and someone somewhere is drunk and horny. Someone somewhere is trying to get laid. Someone somewhere is not using a condom. But you know what, maybe someone somewhere is.

I think about all of this. Life. It’s going on right now and I’m laying in bed trying to figure out how the hell I fit into this whole scheme. I’m not cooking dinner for my family, I’m not running an mgahawa, I’m not tending to my grandma, and I’m sure as hell not trying to get laid. Am I living here, or am I just like the kids who stare in awe, watching something I think I understand, but really don’t even kind of grasp….?

Wondering What Happened To Top Villagers 1-5? Next week....


mom said...

Just click your heels Dorothy, it's almost time to go home.You will have to hang on to your hat to the world that keeps on spinning...Cars flying down the freeway, blue light specials at the K Mart, too many channels on the TV,all the American noise of life. Then you will crawl in your bed and think about all those crazy times in Tanzania.,,and wish for one more day of the simple life. So, enjoy your last few months of this..and then it will be time to start a new chapter in the Maggie May book of life. Hugs to all.

Rose said...

I loved both of the post's, but I especially enjoyed the second post. It really explained a lot about how the people there think and how you feel. I feel sorry for everyone when it comes to the Aids related poblems. I feel sorry for the children especially, like the 8 year girl who now only had her Grandmother. It's a very sad thing! I think that your Mom was right in her comment that once you are home you will miss the simple life that is Tanzania compared to the noise polution of the good ole USA. Enjoy your remaining months while you can, this is your once in a lifetime opportunity to experience such a different culture from the one that you come from. Peace & Love my friend!

Faye said...

3 inches closer to home. I like that. ;)

Love ya