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Diary of a Volunteer





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A Day In The Life Of

Dear Diary
"The tea sessions [at work] are witness to the most animated conversations" More...More


May 1995

Cycling to work (ever so seriously!)

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.

Dear Diary

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 !?)

10.00-10.30am Tea-break! [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 me!

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 switch.

18.30pm Make tea - or watch Rachel make it; eat tea - I can do that!; wash up - and, unfortunately, that!

19.15pm 'Computer Love!' - think I'm getting obsessed with Dell-Boy(#). Better talk to Rachel instead

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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