I’m sitting in the dimly lit, cozy lounge of Kiboko Hotel in Area – 3 in Lilongwe listening to bartender singing along to cheesy songs by Malawian singers (example in the title!). Lilongwe is a sleepy little town that is slowly waking up due to the government moving there with bag, baggage and Parliament. Not particularly organized or well planned, the city is still divided into “Areas” that seem to follow a (somewhat) chronological order through out the city.
Area 3 is the Colaba of Lilongwe. It is right next to the Old Town market and houses the city’s 3 grocery stores, 5 restaurants and 3 banks. As locations go, I’ve just moved to the hippest and most expensive part of town. It is so hip that I walked into a grocery store and could buy my favorite comfort food – peanut butter! – for a very very expensive 700 MK.
Malawi is also clearly plagued with the problem of inflation. I may understand imported peanut butter costing 250 rupees but paying 2000 rupees for an adopter plug and 350 rupees for a meal of curry and rice in Africa seems cripplingly expensive. With the tobacco companies leaving, the tea industry dying out and the lack of any natural resources to exploit, Malawi’s situation is indeed dire.
This week has been full of personal dramas that were blissfully absent for the past so many months. While some of my people managed to destroy relationships due to sheer immaturity and very very bad judgment; I managed to humiliate myself by assuming that friendships wouldn’t change in the course of a few months if I put enough effort into them. For all the advice about letting go at the right time, I’m always depressed by my inability to cut and run when I see that the other person doesn’t care and I’m going to get hurt if I stay. It’s a skill I need to develop – immediately.
For all the sad drama, I know that even if I die alone, I will have lived in the hippest address in Malawi. Now I bet not many people can make that claim :)