A Day In The Life Of
tea sessions [at work] are witness to the most animated conversations"
A diary entry about life in Blantyre,
Malawi circa May 1995. From the moment I wake, to the cycle
ride to work, to 'taking tea', to coming home, to bed, (zzz!)
- it's all there.
5.45 AM: I wake with
Rachel, and remove the infernal Mosquito net that's pressing against
our faces. Bliss! 15 minutes rest (or or...)
6.00 am: Alarm clock
goes off - I should get up. Rachel does !
6.15 am: Finally get
out of bed - tempted by the smell of toast! I Shave, wash, and prepare
my ruck-sack (a clean, ironed shirt; a not so fresh towel; something
to read). Eat 3 Weetabix (!) and tidy up.
7.00 am: 'Bye !' We cycle
off together - but then I take the high (long steep incline) road
and she takes the low (downhill easy-peasy) one. My journey is great:
beautiful morning sun-shine; roads lined with assorted pedestrians
('Get out of the way!'); fellow cyclists vainly struggling to move
their rickety machines. It's starting to give me a buzz (except
when it's raining and cold - even here! - then I limp to work dripping
and miserable! ).
7.20 am: Arrive at work
- usually hot, sweaty; in need of a nice cool shower.
7.25 am: Instead, I strip
and wash torso near a ghastly smelling toilet. I transform into
Mr Office Worker; at no point am I naked - I'm not sure my fellow
workers could stand the shock.
7.40 am: Start work (at
last ?) - well not quite. I may talk or play around with the computer,
or I may read the Introduction To UNIX book (UNIX is my speciality
[Not for us is the constant grazing of food and drink. We have an
allotted time for tea and coffee - tea and coffee which is supplied
by Data (pronounced DARTA)]. We all crowd into a small and dingy
room. Our seats encircle a table crammed with cups, spoons, tea,
coffee and tea-pot (filled with hot milk) - sometimes a packet of
biscuits too. The tea sessions are witness to the most animated
conversations. Whether in English or Chichewa, they cause great
hilarity. If I don't understand, I just watch the bodies double-up
and hands slap, as the mirth bubbles over. (No one-upmanship here:
anyone can give the killer line.)
10.30-12.30pm More work,
of sorts. [Actually, I am preparing the Introduction to Unix course
using books I brought with me, existing course notes, and my knowledge
of Windows software - think this is what I'm meant to be doing ?].
12.30-13.15PM Time for
food, and a pleasant (if hot) walk to the dining room. There's usually
a Ghetto blaster blaring: the sounds of UB40 or just the mid-day
News - different! I wash my hands (very important this !), sit down,
and a minute later a meal is brought out - no choice! I Eat, drink
ice cold water, and finish with a few delicious bananas. [This meal
is free so I don't complain - even if it's Nsima (a large lump of
tasteless white stuff, that resembles Semolina).]
13.15-13.30pm Still trying
to do useful things with my time - read, or play with the computer
13.30pm Work - again
15.00-15.30pm Tea, coffee,
and biscuits - again!
15.30pm More work !
16.55pm Hold your nose!
- it's time to change back to Mr Cyclist; get on that bike and get
the heck out. 'Cheers Charlz! ', my office mate, - I think he acknowledges
17.05pm A pleasing ride
through a mountainous landscape that basks in early evening glow.
Down-hill - yippee!
17.25pm Switch off, talk
to Rachel! (Or is it the other way round !?!)
18.00pm Have hot or cold
bath - depends whether we remembered to flick (outside!) electricity
18.30pm Make tea - or
watch Rachel make it; eat tea - I can do that!; wash up - and, unfortunately,
19.15pm 'Computer Love!'
- think I'm getting obsessed with Dell-Boy(#). Better talk to Rachel
21.30pm Sleep! (Oh dash!
- general, offend no-one curse, it's tomorrow in a few hours !].
#Dell-Boy is the nick-name of my laptop
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