07 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
I’m writing this for foreign drivers who plan to drive in Addis. If you don’t know what to expect in Addis then put your eyes on first gear and read on!
- License: When in Addis, ask your country’s embassy to get your license certified for you. You will then have to visit the transport authority to get a license to drive. This manual and tedious process is worth it only if you plan to stay in Addis for a reasonably long time or if driving is important to your short stay. People also get around by taxis, hire a driver or get friends to drive them.
- Speed limit: 60 kph (37 mph) in urban areas and 100 kph (62 mph) outside.
- Insurance: Recently passed law requires third party insurance. Insurers pay out if whoever was driving the car had a driving license (this may change in the future).
- Drive on the right side, overtake on left, anticlockwise on roundabouts
- It is illegal to use mobile phones while driving
1. Check your car
Check your car is fully functional. Test turn signals, head lights, door locks, wipers, and check spare tire. Although an increasing number of automatic cars are being imported, most cars in Ethiopia remain stick shift. Check also both front and back number plates are present.
2. Watch out for pedestrians
Perhaps this is the first point all drivers should be aware of. Poor road conditions, unavailability of pedestrian crossings, lack of sidewalks and poor road safety awareness all contribute to high accident rates. Pedestrians can suddenly step out from the sidewalk onto the road or a teenager may cross a highway after jumping over the guard rail. Another problem is animals. Stray dogs and cats are run over by cars. Drive slowly in busy areas and be attentive all the time. Don’t expect others will respect road rules.
3. Keep your distance
Addis is built on a highland. Older cars are challenged by the steep roads in Addis. Some old cars by the way can be exported to Europe and US to be sold as classic cars. So if you are a business person in Addis and it is not going well for you, then you can take comfort knowing there is always a backup business plan for you. Keep a good distance from the car in front of you when you come to a traffic stop. Big trucks and buses are the ones to be most careful about. Practice with the handbrake if you are not comfortable with starting and stopping in steep roads.
4. Anger management
Addis taxis are painted blue and white. You will recognize them the day you arrive in the city. There are minicabs and minibuses. The minibuses are notorious for breaking road rules. Unless you see a minibus on the day it arrived in Addis, it will almost definitely have several dents on its body. Minibuses have stations where they pick up and drop off the majority of their passengers but passengers can get off upon request as well. So they go about their route constantly picking up and dropping passengers. Expect minibuses to suddenly break or forcefully enter your lane. Military car drivers are also known for their reckless driving. There aren’t many of them around, luckily.
5. Traffic lights and traffic police
There are plenty of junctions without traffic lights. In the absence of traffic lights, you must be attentive, assertive, slow and quick all at the same time as this timelapse video clearly demonstrates. If traffic police are regulating traffic then their hand signals override traffic lights. There are no speed or red light cameras in Addis. Traffic police blow their whistle to ask drivers to stop. Although some of them have motorbikes, it will be a lifetime before Addis drivers can witness a high-speed chase. If you hear a whistle, stop only if you see traffic police looking towards your direction. Minibuses get the whistle most of the time. In the very rare scenario that you are stopped by traffic police, pull to the side and get out of your car to chat to the police. Being nice can save you a ticket. You might think fines are small but wait until you see the bureaucratic system when you try to pay the fine.
6. Keep emergency contacts
Instead of insurance with car breakdown cover, Addis drivers have a network of friends they can reach out for. Always have contacts you can call.
Most theft is aimed at small items inside cars, such as phones, bags and clothing. Outside elements prone to stealing are the lights, wipers and number plates. Do not leave anything that can attract thieves. Take it out when you leave, put it inside a compartment or in the trunk. Some drivers take out their car radio/CD player as well. But I wouldn’t worry about theft any more than I do in other major cities. Forget mobile phones. In London losing a Range Rover you spent your fortune on has become common. So just tuck things away, lock your door, and if possible park in a secure area. It is common for companies and restaurants to hire security guards for their parking areas. In some places neighborhood kids may tell you they will watch over your car and ask you for a bit of money when you return. It should not be misinterpreted as intimidation. They haven’t done any work besides hanging out with their friends in their neighbourhood. They know that. You can safely drive off after a simple thank you or “Amesegnalehu”.
Parking fees are relatively cheaper than other busy cities. In chargeable areas parking attendants put a ticket on your windshield with the current time on it. You pay when you come back. Take care when parking beyond the end of the parking time. You will face a fine if the parking attendant leaves without collecting the fee. Ask for the closing time. If there is a chance you can stay beyond that time then just pay all of right away instead of worrying about it later.
9. Weather and road conditions
Addis has dry and rainy seasons. There is no snow. The rainy season can bring heavy showers with hail. Showers are usually brief. So you can wait for it to finish if it makes you uncomfortable to drive. In the dry season you will quickly learn that parking your car in the afternoon sun is a great way to get yourself baked. Day and night are evenly divided throughout the year. It always becomes completely dark latest by 7:30 PM. If your headlights are not automatic remember to put them on. Many streets are poorly lit or have no lighting at all. You may want to switch to full beam but remember to notch it down when other cars go past you or when you follow another car closely. Trucks coming into Addis from other cities are the ones that usually leave their full beam on. Slow down if bright light blocks your view. Roads in Addis are being improved at a very high pace but you still find rugged and muddy roads. Just because it is a road with tire marks on it doesn’t mean you should drive on it. Commonly damaged parts are front bumpers and mufflers (silencers). To defeat a big bump try driving over it diagonally or retreat to find a better route.
10. Talk to people
As a driver in Addis you will need help with directions. Your car is broken doesn’t mean you are left in a desert to die. Ethiopians are helpful and welcoming people. Helping each other is how people get by. Pretty much everyone in Addis speaks Amharic and it is easy to find someone who can speak enough English to give you directions. Try to communicate with people with a combination of your limited Amharic, English and hand gestures. Avoid staying inside a small comfortable circle where everything is provided for you. You will make the best out of your stay by experiencing the city and its people first hand.
Although I raised several points to be careful about, driving in Addis is not just gripping onto your wheels expecting a horrible accident. Problems can be avoided if you are aware of them before hand. Addis is a fun city and driving is the best way to get around. After you have successfully driven in the Merkato area of Addis, come tell us your experience and we will give you a free T-Shirt to certify you as “Addis driver”.
23 Jun 2015 1 Comment
This is in no way meant to be a parody of the previous post :P but uh…
I was emboldened by dicknanigans to do this –an exhibition of sorts:
Scribbling while on the phone and what not. I must have been feeling particularly ኬረዳሽ on that day. The EBS shit, I don’t know.
Ideas for a blog post that was just not meant to be.
And some lovely music:
19 Jun 2015 4 Comments
Am I living in a dungeon? Just last month I talked about my excitement when I discovered Meklit. My latest discovery is Wosene Worke, a US based Ethiopian artist who makes art out of Ge’ez letters.
If you like Mulatu Astatke, you may have noticed the album cover on his Inspiration Information album. The cover is beautiful, its Ethiopian, and goes very well with what jazz music is about. The perfect cover!
Here is one painting from Wosene’s current exhibition “Word Play: Future Tense”.
By the way, those seemingly random letters are parts of words and sentences. I didn’t pay attention to it myself until Wosene spelled it out for me. I leave it as an exercice to you :)
Thanks to the Gallary of African Art (GAFRA) for exhibiting his work. In fact, GAFRA first opened (a year or two ago) with Wosene’s paintings. There are many other prominent African artists on their website.
Not all great paintings are unaffordable. I leave you with the one below. Its painted on sheep leather. I forget the artist’s name but I will try to find out next time I catch up with a friend who brought it.
11 Jun 2015 3 Comments
Song takes me to a happy place
Photo taking more space than the news. ጠላቷ ይሙትና የአርባ ካርድ አስመሰሉት እኮ! :)
Same newspaper, four days later. Better content this time. And yet, I can’t help but think that someone over at the newsroom (or me?) might be overly fond of her and/or is finding it hard to look beyond her womanhood. I am willing to bet (though that is not among my strong suits; I mean, I bet against the guys seen below :( ), that the picture was not even taken at the day of the meeting. And if it was, couldn’t they have posted her a picture of her leading the deliberations and stuff? This pic looks like the ones ፎቶ ቤቶች ከውጭ መስታወታቸው ላይ ለናሙና የሚለጥፉዋቸው:: Is that an i watch she’s rocking? :)
I like this photo. They all be like “show me my opponent.” I have a good mind to adopt the double-denim as a permanent dress code sometime in the future.
…Graphomania is not a mania to write letters, personal diaries, or family chronicles (to write for oneself or one’s close relations) but a mania to write books (to have a public of unknown readers)… Graphomania (a mania for writing books) inevitably takes on epidemic proportions when a society develops to the point of creating three basic conditions:
(1) an elevated level of general well-being, which allows people to devote themselves to useless activities; (2) a high degree of social atomization and, as a consequence, a general isolation of individuals; (3) the absence of dramatic social changes in the nation’s internal life.(From this point of view, it seems to me symptomatic that in France, where practically nothing happens, the percentage of writers is twenty-one times higher than in Israel. Bibi is, moreover, right to say that looked at from the outside, she hasn’t experienced anything. The mainspring that drives her to write is just that absence of vital content, that void.) But by a backlash, the effect affects the cause. General isolation breeds graphomania, and generalized graphomania in turn intensifies and worsens isolation. The invention of printing formerly enabled people to understand one another. In the era of universal graphomania, the writing of books has an opposite meaning: everyone surrounded by his own words as by a wall of mirrors, which allows no voice to filter through from outside.
Book of Laughter and Forgetting, Milan Kundera
30 May 2015 5 Comments
A nice, symmetrical number. Not old, not young, but a viable, die-able age (Arundathi Roy)
I share the day with
and one of these two
Even Google recognizes –I am a big deal :D
Days left till I go back home. The details that go into the preparation, akin to hosting the Olympics. I bought the tickets way early in the hope that I could sit back and get my schadenfreude on as the prices went up. But the opposite has happened and I am all sohn von einem weibchen!
Maybe I should start a countdown; I know GeTere would like that very much :P
Remember when we used to call her ቡቲክ and say that she is just showing off the nice fashionable clothes that she has brought from abroad? Now, her clothes look kind of funny.
Approximately how much of my studies are done. Although that part was challenging in its own right, it’s the opening act for a bigger CHALLENGE. Still, that won’t stop me from giving myself a pep talk, the way trainers say “OK, guys, last 10 rounds!!” in a 12 round exercise.
Met a fellow African student who’s in the final year of his studies. We chatted about our strong shared desires to go back home and be the instruments of as much (positive) change as we could. Decent conversation. Let’s just hope that we won’t end up being big condescending fishes in small ponds which constantly reminisce about ponds left behind. We need to bring the pond home, nah mean? And although it has got great chances of turning out to be the right and profitable decision, should we start to get it in our-probably-bald-by-then heads that we are martyrs “Look at us! We came back!”, may we chill.
Another thing I need to be doing is get my mythos and logos straight. This, from AAAS blogs, is what I would like to achieve; I hope it is true.
…Rather, what distinguishes American graduates from our foreign-educated counterparts in the workforce is what has been described as American core values—an optimism of outlook consisting of qualities such as a can-do attitude, rugged individualism (as popularized by historian Frederick Jackson Turner), efficiency and practicality, progress, and freedom. Generalizing about national character is, of course, perilous (and internalized values are difficult to measure). Will Americans excel at innovation in every industry or work setting? No. But there is apparently something in our educational DNA, learned but not inbred, that gives us a creative edge…
ደግሞ you live and you learn ነው አይደል የሚባለው? Discovered that “አልማዝ” is Russian for “Diamond”
10 May 2015 13 Comments
Long time no see. I thought Meklit is worth talking about. She performed at Southbank in London. I listened to Kemekem on Youtube before going to her show. That’s pretty much how little I knew about her. Every single song in her show was good. I couldn’t put a single genre to her music. Ethio-jazz-soul-folk-goodness? She was great on stage. Loved her stories about life, childhood and Ethiopian music.
ከመከም ያገር ልጅ ይሻላል
ከመከም ቢከፋም ቢበጅም
She surprised us by bringing a jazz giant, Pee Wee Ellis (he was not mentioned in the listing). The result? Heaven for Ethio-jazz fan like myself.
They went on to play the classic Ethiopian song Abay Mado. I doubt he rehearsed with them before appearing. You could see the two looking at each other and syncing up their improvisation. It made it even more fun to listen. It was like going back to the 60’s. Only a picture can explain how I was listening.
I was last in a long queue to get her signed CD and a picture with her. Her latest album is We Are Alive. Do check it out.
She said she had a lot to learn about Ethiopian music. You are right Meklit, there is decades of music to learn from, not to mention traditional songs that never made it to recording studios. I look forward to hearing more from you.
Girma Beyene, Seifu Yohannes, Teshome Mitku. All great artists whose songs are getting revived.
23 Mar 2015 11 Comments
While we are on the topic of unrequited love…
Meet my bed. Check out my throw pillows; there’s tens of ways of arranging them! That’s where I lay my weary head down every night.
“ፊትን ወደነገ አዙሮ መተኛት”: ነብይ መኮንን is a favorite expression even though I have not been practicing it. There was the rosary on the vacant pillow (or clutched in hand. i know, i know. i am supposed to pray with it, not sleep with it) phase which I still go back to, every now and then, especially on those days when it feels like the monsters are gaining on me. Recent times have seen my mobile phone occupying the same spot where the rosary used to sit, lulling me to sleep with Sheger FM.
It is not that I am having trouble sleeping. It is rather a case of going to bed being the most exciting part of the day—for better or for worse—and trying to set it off the right way.
What’s all this got to do with unrequited love?
Well, in all honesty, probably nothing. I mean, I got so much love to give and shit (my love be just sitting there, waiting, like a winter’s growth of grass on the playground of our primary school, ምሥራቅ ድል, ጨረታ ያሸነፈ ሰው መጥቶ እስኪያነሳው. ኖ ጨረታ ፎር ማይ ላቭ, ቤይbae) but there are currently no vultures lurking around in my life, at least none that I know of :smile: But it must be nice to have someone to turn to at night, someone who would be a personification of my late night traditions, all rolled into one. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. I ain’t seen her, Lord! (A very polite exclamation mark.) If I had, she would be my way of loving you. Forget the radio, the sound of her breathing would be all the information I need, proof that the world is functioning just fine. And the few pages I used to read before bed, before it got too cold to stay exposed for even a minute, she would be my lifetime of reading.
Someone whom I would make cherish her day…
A lot of “would”s
We be so tight with Kd in the nanomolar range that nothing or no one could come in between us except maybe some room for her vibrator. I have come to find out from my extensive reading :smile: of The Guardian that women don’t mean their vibrators to replace their men but to augment them, like augmentin. Cool.
This also from the Guardian; even after somebody had commented on the mistake, the “Aramaic” was still there last time I checked.
Back to the topic at hand. The world is crazy. Something wrong with the human race. A whole lot of people running towards love. A whole lot of others running away.
Fuck it, I’m out.
I had missed out on these cats all this time
20 Mar 2015 4 Comments
Open up your eyes and look says the universe, our time is short and I am yours, you just need to take a chance and enjoy it all, do you hear me talking to you across the water, across the deep blue ocean? the universe keeps on asking. I close my eyes and sail through the sea and travel across the turning tides, that is what I have always wanted, feeling the breeze of the silently blowing wind, watching the night sky and the beautiful sunrise: a line of beautiful lights over the horizon and them old stars, and this old soul of mine refuses to give up even though my heart is broken into pieces by a vulture, but no I will not give up, I am here to stay and make the difference that I can make. The universe says you have to learn how to bend with out the world caving in. I will give the world my love and I shall receive what I seek.
Love is a funny thing, when you love someone, you heart beats beats so loud. your feet can feel the ground, when you love someone it comes back to you, makes your blood flow with energy, says the song writer, I am afraid I have to disagree Jason Mraz, it hurts in a million ways too, Life is wonderful and it runs in circle, cause and effect is how science describes it. It doesn’t take time to fall in love but it takes years to know what love is: the universe answers. It takes a silence to make a sound, this I agree with. So many questions have been creeping in my mind, it is starting to feel like the world is saying I am not welcome any more and I needed the vulture to save me, instead he chose the vow of silence, I don’t wish to change you, you have it under control: you wake up every day different,
But the universe kept on saying, I am yours and I decided, I will not waste my days, to worry about the things I should just let go. I will live in the moment, live my life, lazy and breezy with peace in my heart and my soul, let go of the thoughts that don’t make me strong: this I decided after so much prayer. I want to be a beautiful mess to you, I am saying I love you and I am hearing I love you back and I am smiling back better than ever and I will give you all my broken heartbeats.
02 Mar 2015 3 Comments
Imagine attending a couple of lectures on a Sunday night. That’s what I did after having spent the day, the weekend, on Skype and Viber. Not that I regret it. It could also serve as my excuse if shit goes south: one gots to talk to family and friends, regardless of how many deadlines for assignments and exam dates are looming.
Our teacher recorded lectures for when he went out of town and I must say I really enjoyed the lectures and learned a lot (more than the in class ones.) Let’s face it: sitting in class is boring. I feel sorry for my former students for what I had put them through. Consider it an epiphany of sorts. If I sit in class for hours, when it’s finally time to read the notes for exam if I go “did we really learn this in class? “መቼም ታምር አያልቅ!” and having gone through this experience, I subject my students to the same kind of shit, where then is the “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” in me?
I am looking forward to the day when I would be recording decent videos for my students to learn from at their leisure. I would still enjoy strutting my stuff in class but in the words of Ludacris, my pimpin’ would be in 3-D, or 2-D or whatever. And for my students, the name of the game is going to be:
Whatever happened to Craig David?
I admit I was a bit skeptical of the benefits and the practicality when they were pushing Moodle back at AAU. Did not pay heed to Sami’s advice that I should make a podcast of my lecture notes. Now I see how all those things could come in handy. I just had to be the lab rat myself.
Maybe all this excitement is coming from gorging on an old favorite:
From Crime and Punishment:
‘Well then, drop her!’
‘But I can’t drop her like that!’
‘Why can’t you?’
‘Well, I can’t, that’s all about it! There’s an element of attraction here, brother.’
‘Then why have you fascinated her?’
‘I haven’t fascinated her; perhaps I was fascinated myself in my folly. But she won’t care a straw whether it’s you or I, so long as somebody sits beside her, sighing…. I can’t explain the position, brother … look here, you are good at mathematics, and working at it now … begin teaching her the integral calculus; upon my soul, I’m not joking, I’m in earnest, it’ll be just the same to her. She will gaze at you and sigh for a whole year together. I talked to her once for two days at a time about the Prussian House of Lords (for one must talk of something)—she just sighed and perspired! And you mustn’t talk of love—she’s bashful to hysterics—but just let her see you can’t tear yourself away—that’s enough. It’s fearfully comfortable; you’re quite at home, you can read, sit, lie about, write. You may even venture on a kiss, if you’re careful.’
You might even get some booty :)
22 Feb 2015 Leave a comment
“Gonna keep marchin’ on, to the sound of her own beatin’ drum”
21 Feb 2015 4 Comments
The way place names are written in some Russian novels like “in the province of R______” ወዘተ:: P_______ could stand for Pepsi for all we know. I did some search and turns out there is a song linking the two:
Is it just me or does the Pepsi logo kind of resemble a p_______? Then again, the way mirages of water appear to a thirsty traveler in the desert, so does one begin to see the p________ in everything and everyone.
I come to you, dear reader, from my hangover bed. It is 3:30 in the afternoon and can’t get myself to get up for lunch; so I am making do with a certain monocled fellow:
Here is what my daily Russian roulette with the Holy Bible has provided
Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.
Last night I hung out with the guys from school. There was chopsticks, bottles and karaoke; two guys, four girls. The problems with the composition of our group: numero uno, there is that probability of six people getting deadlocked should some very important decision, say, what kind of beer to get, were put to the vote; and dos, found out only last night that dude was gay (doubling the number of the actual flesh and blood gay people that I know), or should I say LGBT :smile: Small wonder he was trying to recruit more dudes to the outing. I took offense in retrospect. Apparently, he does not find me hot. Don’t get me wrong. I also take offense when the girls keep talking about hot guys as if I am not there with them. I mean, hello, aspiring hot guy in your midst, ladies! Sucks to be the uncle figure.
I had to vie for the mike with two of the girls who went through most of today’s bubblegum pop. We were split into two cohorts of millennials and our tastes in music did not exactly match. And it was reckless of me to have shown the affinity for the mike that I did in a gay man’s pad. But ye all know what ethanol does to your cell membranes, making your proteins act all weird. He even serenaded me! Despite words in my head, my response to that was to play along like “True dat!” I joined him in belting out “Losing my Religion” although the song’s coming-out-of-the-closet-undertones were not lost on me:
He is a cool cat though. A man’s man if you will. He liked my song choices: what more could I ask from a person? And when I was about to do Maxwell, he tried to look out for me like “Are you sure man? Maxwell is hard” (today everything seems to come out wrong) and I was like “That’s the point!” And then we were like…
Is it not wonderful, how the simple word “like” has become the antidote to society’s bane of he say she say?
The best joke from the night: put some glycerol in your love and store it in aliquots in a -80 0C fridge –it will not go bad.
Got introduced to some cool music btw. Looks like there are still some decent acts left out there :)
Remember when people used to say that Michael changed his skin because he was ashamed of being black and now he is insulting black people አር ዩ መንኪ አር ዩ መንኪ :)
God bless the home girl that drove us home; and Siri too.
I was reminding myself to not to forget to memorize the route to my place yesterday morning on the way to school. And I had forgotten to do that :smile: Yep. Six months and I sometimes find it hard to find my bearings.
I guess the point I am trying to make is that, as far as the expedition to the province P________ is concerned, boy am I in the wrong search party.
Now it’s 6:05
15 Feb 2015 2 Comments
Some of the following might seem like nitpicking but…
1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I wonder what the Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek versions say.
Still in the ሕዝብ ለሕዝብ mood:: ወልማሚት sounds like a nice term of endearment. የኔ ወልማሚት, ወልማሚቴ, …እንደቀለበቴ ግቢ ብል ይሻላል :smile:
እና ደግሞ ሴቶቻችን
And a crescendo
እና እና ደግሞ መልካም ሁዳዴ!
10 Feb 2015 4 Comments
Have I ever told how amazing my sister is? All of my four sisters are amazing in fact. But she is the one I could tell anything and everything to, including dirty jokes. She massages my back when it hurts. One could always find some kind of snack in her room and finish it before she even gets a chance to taste it. She gave our home phone number to one of her high school friends, just for the fun of it, and የተረገመች ልጅ called me, and played me. Through the years, we would መኮራረፍ for weeks at a stretch, but hey, ብርሌ እንኳን ይጋጫል::
I know she got my back, we go way back, duh!, and I hope we get to go way in front. I will be going to their house and telling her husband ዞር ዞር ብለህ ና, ጨዋታ ብጤ አለችን::
And today I received these from her:
Ill-advised (a bit like this), spending all that money on postage fees. I have told her as much, and she had decided even before I did to not send stuff to me ever again. Still, that does not take away anything from the package. Quality stuff from a quality girl, heart of gold (with some impure spots whence are spawned devious plans to play games on her brother.)
Had run out of ቶሞካ and ሮቤራ:: Coffee is a big part of my day. The one I bought here either too weak or too strong እየሆነ አስቸገረኝ:: Now problem has been solved big time. See how big the packages are?! ግን አማርኛው ለምን አነሰ? Robera, although a close second in taste, it somehow makes up for in decent Amharic print on the packaging.
አያችሁ ladies and gentlemen? See what I did there? I just pulled up a few of our old posts in my cheap effort to write a new one. I also threw in my good sister for good measure. I should not even be blogging ye all. After getting slaughtered this afternoon in the test, to the point of forgetting we had another class, maybe it would be best to be reading than writing shit.
Fuck it though. Sisters deserve a post, music, and a day of the year dedicated to them.
In the absence of music praising the highly significant contribution of sisters in the advancement of brotherly causes, I am forced to :smile:
07 Feb 2015 3 Comments
You want to woo a professor, read a few of their papers beforehand. You want to hit it off with a person who comes from a place/background different from yours, won’t hurt if you are a tad versed on said place/background. Getting on the right foot is crucial. But sometimes, the right foot might turn out to be the wrong one, as evidenced by
Labs on the same side of our building share equipment. People are supposed to sign their names before using the equipment. Many times I have crossed paths with dude in our comings and goings to the equipment room. Ok, this is going to be the last time I am going to use the word “equipment” in this post.
Dude decides to start a conversation. Asks me how I pronounce my name since he had found it difficult when he saw it on the sign in sheet.
“I am from Ethiopia. I see you are from India”
“You know too much, I am scared” Said with a jocular tone.
“And your last name is Singh. You are Sikh. It is the Sikhs who wear turbans like you do and whose names usually end with Singh, right? Does Singh really mean lion?”
“How do you know so much? I am even more scared”
(Pssht, man! Here I am considering throwing in the Indra Gandhi assassination by her Sikh bodyguards)
I have my fair share of disjointed information that has, through the years, managed to stick to my brain the same way lint does to clothes. እኛ ቤት we used to call lint ጭገር:: (ምሳሌ: ብርድ ልብሱ ጭገር ያዘ::) Imagine my shock when in freshman year at college I discovered that ጭገር was so laden with meaning; it is not meant for everyday use.
But that’s neither here nor there.
I tell him that I came to know about his people from my (not targeted) readings.
A short reprieve. We both tend to our equip…
When I return from the other room, he tells me how he had once seen a Discovery documentary on ላሊበላ:: It was a good thing that he mentioned his source since I could have thought that he did a quick Google search in my absence, ላለመበለጥ::
We lament how India and Etyopia’s ancient civilizations kind of lost steam. I brought to his attention the hypothesis on how it may have been Indians who built Lalibela, with help from the angels of course.
Then came the big one
“How did you know my last name?”
I remember from my childhood people saying that Sri Lankans look like Etyopians or vice versa. I stared at this Sri Lankan chick for a full five minutes thinking that she was ያገሬ ልጅ, then she says hi, I say nothing, tongue tied. Then it so happens that, a few weeks later, I get to spend a lot of time in an environment adjacent to hers. We get introduced, I tell her about my first impression of her, I don’t think she understood that it was a compliment. Five sentences down the road, she decides to bring her husband into the conversation, I am not one to do the Sean Paul, so I beat a hasty retreat.
Am I wrong to know, unlike some Chinese people, the new year is going to be the year of the sheep?
It is true, only first names are written on the sign in sheet. For the life of me, I could not remember how I knew his last name, although for all practical purposes, his turban was a dead giveaway. He is looking at me with Kanye in his eyes,
I am standing there turning over the sheet this way and that, hoping to somehow find “Singh” scribble somewhere in there, feeling like the accidental stalker.
Let’s admit it. The modus operandi nowadays for getting to know people is not human interaction. It is Googling the shit out of them. Those of you who are looking at me like you have never done that, I would believe you better if you tell me that you have never touched yourselves. True story: when I started doing it, I had promised myself that I would stop after the tenth time. Ten. It was to be the magic number.
But there are people whom we Google and there are others we don’t give a fuck about. Dude belongs to the latter group. We are of the same species, and we go to the same school is all. That’s how far my interest in him went.
This is how I ended our conversation: “ኦሆ! (I really said that, ኦሆ!) Anyways, nice to meet you. And you don’t have to be scared of me” I have seen him around since, we have exchanged a dry “hi”, but I will never tell him how I knew his last name. Yes, it came back to me. I had learned it from one of his labmates under the most innocuous of circumstances, which if I try to explain to him, I fear would breed more suspicion on his part. ጎመን በጤና! ጎመን ለጤና!
- The Diary of a Madman, Gogol. Very nice. The place where he decides that he was the king of Spain, hilarious.
- እዚህ ውስጥ ምን ታያላችሁ? :smile: And they expect you to keep a straight face through this
- Happy 70th!
04 Feb 2015 3 Comments
While re-watching one of my favorite TV series Battlestar Galactica (2004), I came across a great dialogue that was too good to move on from :) When I first watched the series I was fascinated with the idea of a few machine models, each with its own distinct characterstics. John Cavil is a machine also known as Number One. He is the first human-like model to be built. He has a cruel personality. He talks to one of his makers Ellen about the human body he is in.
One: In all your travels, have you ever seen a star supernova?
One: No. Well, I have. I saw a star explode and send out the building blocks of the universe! Other stars, other planets, and eventually, other life! A supernova. Creation itself. I was there, I wanted to see it. And be part of the moment. And you know how I perceived one of the most glorious events in the universe? With these ridiculous gelatinous orbs in my skull! With eyes designed to perceive only a tiny fraction of the EM spectrum! With ears designed only to hear vibrations in the air!
Ellen: The five of us designed you to be as human as possible.
One: I don’t want to be human! I want to see gamma rays! I want to hear X-rays! And I wanna, I wanna smell dark matter! Do you see the absurdity of what I am, I can’t even express these things properly because I have to, I have to conceptualize complex ideas in this stupid limiting spoken language! But I know I wanna reach out with something other than these prehensile paws! And feel the solar wind of a supernova flowing over me!
Stupid limiting spoken language! We find it limiting at times too. You are not alone.
And another good one from The Matrix (1999). Agent Smith, a machine, tells Morpheus why humans are like a virus. I mentioned it elsewhere in this blog but I thought I should put the full quote here :)
I’d like to share a revelation that I’ve had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you’re not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply, and multiply until every natural resource is consumed, and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You’re a plague. And we, are the cure.
What are your favorite quotes?
30 Jan 2015 5 Comments
I get home every night with my English-o-meter pointing dangerously low, all beeping and shit. And it is not like I spend the day conversing with a lot of people using a whole lot of words. It seems I go out every morning slinging the same limited number of words into my backpack just like they were my lunch. Most of my statements start with “I think” (Okay okay, we get it. You think. No need to flaunt it now) and end with “so…” not because it is en vogue but out of necessity –I ain’t got the words baby. I can’t seem to replace “No problem” with “You are welcome”, with either one of the rather brash “Yup”, “Sure”, “Uh huh”, “You bet” or an annoyed “Grrrrrrrrrrrr”, DMX style:
When are “Shall I…” and “How’s it going?” going to retire?
Just kidding :smile:
So, when I am wanting for English, it is usually the old stalwarts of verses of songs or lines from movies that come through for me. Dare I say that’s where I got most of my English from? You can find me reciting verbatim half a bar from an Eminem song in the middle of…
I am chilling with my roommate by the dishwasher. We start discussing his wife’s pregnancy. I want to ask him ስንት ወር እንደሆናት but I am finding difficult to string the words together. Then bam! I spit the line from Stan: “You said your girlfriend is pregnant how far along is she?” I mean not the whole line, but only the latter part. “How far apart are the contractions” had also crossed my mind. But it took a simple down to earth “How many months is she…” from the a la carte menu of words to make my roommate understand.
Lest we miss the point, the point is that it has been three weeks since my roommate got back from a one month Christmas vacation in his home country. It was asinine bordering on the offensive for me to ask how far along his wife was. ሳሚ እንደሚለው “እኛም ኮሪያ ሄደን መጣን ሚስቶቻችንም አርግዘው ጠበቁን” In my eagerness to speak decent English, I had thrown propriety to the wind and forgotten that I shouldn’t ዝም ብዬ አፌን መክፈት::
An Etyopian professor from another state is going to give a seminar this spring and I want to attend. Only problem is that the seminar series is not ours but of a related department. Normally, that wouldn’t be a problem. I have been known to attend cookie- and donutless seminars on far flung topics even during my Etyopia days. Being a Gemini I have the urge to acquire a knowledge that is a mile wide and an inch deep.
ግን ይሉኝታ ያዘኝ:: They would think that I am there just because a fellow countryman is presenting, which is right –I have attended only one of their seminars the whole of last semester. I want to be in the hall with flag and banner: “እመቤቴ ትርዳህ!” a la the slogan that ቆምጬ አምባው purportedly had የወረዳው ነዋሪዎች saying by way of goodbyes to a visiting higher official “ጉዋድ እገሌን ጊዮርጊስ በሰላም ያግባ!!!ያግባ!!!”
It is always good to see ኢትዮጵያዊ/ት doing his/her thing. Whenever I attend one of the seminars here, it feels like I suddenly fell into a conversation that started ages ago. An Etyopian, setting the agenda for such a conversation, now that will be something.
The theme of my posts has been diverging from the usual የሴት ያለህ! to ወይኔ ትምህርት ከበደኝ! እርግጥ ነው ትምህርት ከብዶኛል:: This one subject for example has got cool acronyms but is darn difficult. Acronyms like COSY, ROESY (makes me hark back to halcyon and turbulent days), SECSY, TOCSY and NOESY (damn straight, no easy!) Plus the teacher told us that the low hanging fruits have already been plucked and our future endeavors are bound to be far more difficult. And I said to myself, plenty of unplucked yet low hanging fruits where I come from. I intend to pluck the shit out of them.
Be that as it may, I am learning stuff. Who knew DNA was እንደዚህ ጨምላቃ?! Just lyse E Coli and you would see.
And change is good. I will stay on the new theme and have my sperm put into the -80 freezer in the meantime. While on the topic of change, I think When he was talking about change on the pilot episode of Breaking Bad, Walter White may have been referring to his metamorphosis from a humble teacher to a ruthless criminal.
26 Jan 2015 Leave a comment
ወቅታዊ ዘፈኖች: ጥር, ጥምቀት, ብርድ, ብቸኝነት, ሠርግ
ህዝብ ለሕዝብ -still the shyt after all these years. Among the many amazing things about it: the transition from song to song
26 Jan 2015 2 Comments
- I may have spoken too soon when, a few posts back, I commented on how time seems to be flying recently. ያለፈው ሳምንት አላልቅ ብሎ በስንት እግዚኦታ,,, በመደበኛው ጊዜ ሁለት ሳምንት ይወጣው ነበር:: Hump day was the worst. One disaster after another: a couple of screw ups in the electrophoresis front (does cluelessness and clumsiness come with the territory of 1st year of graduate school or is it just me?), a staggering electricity bill (ምጣድ የለኝ ካውያ), the rice that I made for dinner tumbling in its entirety into the sink (ባህር ዳር እያለሁ ቅንጬ የተደፋብኝን አስታወሰኝ:: ሩዙ ጨው በዝቶበት በሙቅ ውሃ ላስተካክለው ስሞክር –salt troubleshooting wisdom from my sister– የማይበጃችሁ ሰይጣን እንዲህ ድፍት ይበል… The world is one. We are brothers and sisters in rice. What makes us different is what we have with the rice), and at least one other bad shit I don’t remember right now. It was a series of unfortunate events. Thursday and Friday were not blemish free either, and like I tried to point out earlier, they were loooooooooooooong. I hope sitting down to write this post at this late hour as the weekend goes “later!” pays off in the future. I would come back to read this and remark either “ስንቱ ታለፈ?!” or “Man, I sure used to have it easy!”
- Embraced large scale cooking after a long hard consideration. I am no stranger to the concept by the way. Freezing and thawing, taking 10 ml of ወጥ in a graduated cylinder and filling up with water to the 100 ml mark ወዘተ:
- I have stocked four storage dishes with መኖ:: The permutation of foods that I can feast on is impressive i.e 4 x 3 = 12 i.e if I am open to eating pasta with rice. Right now, almost feeling like this dude:
What if my stockpile goes bad? Antibiotics may probably be harder to come by here than in Etyopia.
- No longer having to cook every night is expected to free up time to do more reading, starting with The Battle for God, Karen Armstrong and ከእንጦጦ እስከ ባሮ, እስክንድር ቡላቶቪች (ትርጉም በ ዶ/ር ዳኛቸው ከበደ)
ለሹሩባና ለጥርስ ብለው ዝሆኖቹን ጨረሷቸው:: And does that mean that an elephant is worth twenty times more than a lion?
- Conversation about the progress I have been making:
Me “አሁን ለምሳሌ በዚህ ሴሜስተር ብዙዎችን ሰላም ማለት ጀምሪያለሁ…”
GeTere “ሰው በስድስት ወር ውስጥ ገርል ፍሬንድ ይቀይራል አንተ ሰው ሰላም ማለት ጀመርኩ ትላለህ…” :smile:
- It is a tough job, being a bus driver. You are expected to wave back to fellow drivers and to respond to the “thank you”s of riders getting off.
- The nurses in the clinic keep asking me if I had been depressed lately. I am asked the same battery of questions whether I am there for a vaccination or to have an ingrown nail removed. I understand that it is standard procedure and that they are being thorough, but still,…