Tuesday, December 13, 2011

One Two Ka Four - 4

Getting buggered at work with 2 days to get out of here. I need sleep. Or coffee and chocolate. Lots of it!

 Living in Malawi is like being inside of a economics text book. The IMF left the country yesterday, rumors of currency devaluation sent prices soaring - stuff like bread, sugar and essential commodities. Petrol went up from 380 Kwacha to 480 Kwacha - not that it made much of a difference, because there was no petrol to buy. I think inflation in the last 2 months can be pegged at 80-100%.
People are placing bets on how bad the Kwacha is going to get. A friend of mine is betting at 2000 Kwacha to a dollar (from the current 165 Kwacha to a dollar) by next March. Whee!

Monday, December 12, 2011

How Peculiar - 5

It's ironic that my last weekend in Malawi was the best yet - with me drinking water the whole night, having dinner and intimate conversation with a very good friend, followed by bizarre but hilarious conversation at Harry's till 2:30 AM with the unlikeliest of people. I learned more about my friends telling stories and laughing with them in that one night than I have in all the days of 'partying'. I'm glad it happened :)


With three days for take-off, work is threatening to kill me. I know I've gone through worse but the stress of dealing with the government (OMG! How can they not realize I'm leaving! :P ) is getting to me. In my head I know that the government has better things to do than listen to my requests so I can help them to finish their own projects, but I just wish for the next three days we could move closer to an ideal world.


Going back home means dal-roti, family, tv, friends, fuel, cars, power, internet and so many other guilty pleasures. But it is also going back into the uncertainty that dominated my life before I got here. As I was saying to a friend today, if my life allowed me to know what I was doing for more than 2 months at a time, I'd probably be shocked enough to faint. I'd rather be uncertain at home than uncertain elsewhere. I guess.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Sawa Sawa - 9

I made my first foray out of the expat bubble in Malawi on Sunday when I decided to go to the old town market in Lilongwe. I took the minibus (50 Kwacha - finally something affordable in Malawi!) and walked to the main market - a sprawling covered market with narrow streets, little light and treasures waiting to be discovered.

The real Lilongwe where people live, transact business and sleep was dirty, smelly and full of frantic (legal and illegal) activity. The streets of the market were dark and narrow, with houses rising on both sides and puddles on the ground from the recent rain. With the market selling everything from vegetables, chicken to music CDs, clothes and cosmetics - walking through the streets was like walking through the Crystal Maze. I found my way in easily enough but then spent 30 minutes finding my way out and getting lost. Had it not been for Malawi and people guiding me along with a smile and a friendly question, I'm sure I would have freaked out!

Back in the bubble, we had the first of many Christmas parties at my hotel - complete with people wearing ugly sweaters (mine had green shiny Christmas trees on it!), Santa and reindeer hats, exchange of gifts under 1000 Kwacha, shortbread cookies and tonnes of chocolate!

I'm not entirely sure what Sawa Sawa means (there's a debate between "open your heart" and "open your vagina"), but I know that the song has all the makings of a hit - a sexy beat, catchy chorus and lyrics that have attracted much controversy. The song plays in the taxi, on radio, at live shows, in clubs every night.. I can't get it out of my head!
So check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbUBSeNrV3c

Friday, December 2, 2011

Shack Night - 15

I'd never though I'd say this, but people in Malawi party way too much.

The tiny expat community has built a high-school-like culture where everyone is part of a gang (the cool gang, the pseudo gang, the desperate-geek-boys-gang) and there are places that everyone hangs out on any day of the week. So it is Thirsty Thursdays at Buchanans, Harry's on Friday.. so on and so forth.
I happen to have my first night out in town on a Wednesday, which in Malawi translated to: Shack Night!

The Shack is a unique party destination for many reasons. For one, it doesn't show up on the Lonely Planet which means that the crowd consists of expats living in Malawi, some locals and regulars who head over to The Shack every Wednesday. Apart from the nice relaxed "shack-like" atmosphere and a place to run into 80% of the young crowd in Malawi, the pub also hosts the Volleyball league every Wednesday. This highly competitive league involves three tiers, rowdy matches and some very hot European boys playing Volleyball :)
Staying out till the wee hours of morning, didn't prevent wealthy Malawians from "celebrating" World AIDS Day on December 1st. The same crowd showed up to events recognizing World AIDS Day and made use of the subsidized cash bar. The most interesting part of these events was running into three fourths of the Indian community who, after showing appropriate shock and surprise at my sudden arrival in Malawi, inquired after my health, invited me over for some much needed dal-roti and then (on-the-sly) told me that they would give me a better rate if I wanted to exchange dollars in the black market. :D
As Friday evening approaches and my friends decide whether to go Carol Singing at the Four Seasons or Harry's for a few drinks, I can't help but think ... people in Malawi party way too much!