Mimi ni Mzungu

I just got back from a Safari yesterday. Way too tired right now to write about it, that’ll come in a day or so. It was as epic as it gets. You’ll have to wait for pictures in August, when I don’t have what feels like dial-up.

Below is an entry I wrote last Thursday; but being gone Friday [Another successful day at the hospital. I fixed a centrifuge!] and the weekend at the Safari, I didn’t have a chance to upload it. Enjoy.

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There’s a cricket in my room

Seriously. Every night, around 3 or 4am, it starts going off. Real loud. Its been driving me absolutely wild. I can deal with the roosters outside, the dogs barking, or even the chorus of crickets that are far away, But there’s a cricket in my room. And I can’t find it. And as a result, haven’t been sleeping awfully well. It has mad me really grumpy and angry and hating crickets in general. A ton. [EDIT – Nabil found it underneath his suitcase. Win.]

In other news, we had a mini Kiswahili test today at the soko (market). Basically, we were each given 1000 shillings (about 70 cents) to go buy fruits and vegetables from the native folk, who have no idea we are bunch of students trying to learn swahili, they only know that we want their produce. I was able to do some simple bargaining, although many of the prices were very standard, and with some of the fruits being so cheap, there wasn’t really too much bargaining to be done. But, I did have an interesting experience with the tomato lady.

To preface, there is a popular epithet for all those foreigners who come to Tanzania: Mzungu. To the Hindi-speaking folk out there, it is the literal equivalent to Ghorra (spelling? Not the horse), ie white person, foreigner, idiot.

So I approach the lady with 500 shillings in my pocket, and there are some piles of tomatoes I want to purchase. Note that this entire exchange happens in Kiswahili:

Me: How are you today?
TL: Excellent. How has your morning passed?
Me: Nicely. I would like some tomatoes. How much do they cost?
TL : One pile is 200 shillings.
Me: That’s too expensive. How about 100 shillings?
TL: No, I give you a good price. One pile, 200 shillings (she starts to get frustrated, because she has to repeat herself like 5 times because I can’t understand her dialect).
Me: 2 piles, 300 shillings?
TL: No. 2 piles, 400 shillings.
Me: I have no money. I am a ….(searching for the word for student in my mind)
Roshan (walks up behind me with a big grin):: Mzungu!
[At this point, there is a large crowd behind me, watching this awkwardly tall Indian man try and bargain in Kiswahili. They all explode in laughter at Roshan’s comment]
Me: No no no! I am a student. Not mzungu, not mzungu!!

It goes back and forth for a little while longer, and she eventually gives in to giving me 2 piles of tomatoes for 300 shiillings. Not bad for only studying Kiswahili for 2.5 weeks. Bargaining success!

World Cup fever has also gripped the area, though my host family doesn’t seem largely interested in it. They still prefer their spanish Telenovellas (which I have now weened myself off of). Instead, I find myself reading at night, something I haven’t really enjoyed doing in a long time. Currently working on the Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas. Really well written, engaging from the beginning, and I really enjoy the fast pace, even though it does span over 700 pages. And although D’Artagnan isn’t a Musketeer (yet), why is it called the Three Musketeers? I feel like D’Artagnan is as skilled as Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, and so it really should be called the Fourth Musketeer, or something along those lines. Or maybe I’m not far enough into the book yet to make that judgement. Who knows.

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1 Comment

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One response to “Mimi ni Mzungu

  1. Dyuti

    I am so proud of your haggling success story 🙂 Can’t wait to see safari pictures!

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