75. Ena keza behuala, Bahir Dar

So I am in B Dar, right? And I am doing this blogging shit again…

Check my flow; or rather, the lack thereof .

Turn me up some

I suggest, lest anyone be fooled by the name Bahir Dar, the substitute Bereha Dar or better yet, Esat Dar. Maybe it has not always been like this, based on what we learned from the grandfather of the bridegroom from the wedding in Weramit and the old but feisty lady whom we met in the bus on our way back from Tis Abay. And maybe these past days the heat has been subsiding and the rain has been waging a battle with the wind and it has not been losing always. But I swear sometimes it feels like the Wandering Jew is passing through town. And when someone is complaining the heat in Addis Abeba is getting unsupportable you ask: “Do you sweat in unseemly places like around the antecubital artery?” “No”.  “Do you sleep with the window above the headboard open?” “Well, no”.”Then shut the hell up! “

I am sitting in the lounge, waiting to board the airplane , and I am thinking “Am I for real?” Ever since then, I am still trying to avoid drawing parallels between myself and the prodigal son. For more than two months  I raised points, and at times, though I really hate/ed doing that, raised hell, in order to convince my family and myself  that Bahir Dar was the right thing to do. But all I could think at that moment was “What the hell am I doing?” and the same question is still raised on the shittiest of my days. All the hope and plans for the future, all the disenchantment I thought I was leaving behind, all of it, sometimes seems part of an ill-conceived bravado.

Nostalgia has a way of idealizing discontent that used to be palpable as Dr Juvenal Urbino would agree. And I for one have been known to suffer from acute nostalgia. Sophomore year in Arat Kilo I had moved with the same if not greater degree of headstrongness into a dorm rented from jezbas. I had heard that renting dorms, if discovered, could be punishable .My very first day I felt awful that I wrote a letter supposedly from an inhabitant of a neighboring dorm to the effect that there were illegal aliens clandestinos in the block that were disturbing tha peace and if they were no dealt with, I would be forced to report to the students’ dean. I was planning to slip it under the door of the proctor’s office that evening. But I somehow refrained myself and I held on; that was until sometime later a relapse forced me to pack my bags and return home only to return in the opposite direction in a speedy manner.

Yeah, I am fucked up like that!

My twelfth day in BD; no letter this time though the loneliness is kicking in, and it stings like a mother. For part of the duration I have had Sami and his friend to keep me company (it would translate to mangualel in the lingo of hereabouts), I have Tewabe from day one and let us not forget that I have dined and chattered with Brook and his significant other who had been on this unhurried enviable *green* excursion that did not spare the Semien Mountains.

But like people say, some days are better than others.

Twelve days and I have witnessed with my six senses that:

  • the water tastes like that of Addis Abeba but is expectedly tepid
  • life is expensive and haggling a disappointment more often than not
  • the roads are nice and clean. What I could not understand was the street lights in the middle of the cordon while the sidewalks be dark. .
  • people on the street and those giving service are not that friendly. In their defense, I am not the friendliest guy you will ever meet; plus the bajaj drivers are courteous. In the highly unlikely event that you don’t know what a bajaj is, it is a three-wheeled vehicle, which, when seen from behind parked in the woods, looks like a guy who’s taking a piss.

People in their homes are cool. Cases in point, my landlord/lady and the family who had accommodated me for the first night.

By the way I have set a new record of vagrancy: starting on the sleepless night of the eve of my departure, I have spent the night in five different houses including when I finally moved into my new house.

  • The view of Tana from Mango is not impressive. Went there in the daytime and saw scores sitting outside and inside staring at the lake like some spectacle was about to unfold. Like a game you would be tempted to ask what time it would start. But it was all bland except for some ziyi (pelicans) feeding on fish. I returned in the evening to see if shit had changed. Nothing had changed: people were still staring at the darkness that was the lake. I don’t know what I had expected of the lake but at least at Tana hotel you can see the sunset and the view of the lake is much better.
  • I was reminded of everything I hated about watching football with too many people and all the gir gir. And I am failing to see the romance in supporting one of the big boys. If I don’t give up on this fan business completely, one of these days you may find me supporting a lowly team.
  • Of course there is plenty of eye candy. But the notion that a change of environment might boost my chances of landing one of them, wrong! Shit is starting to get  painful.
  • In many aspects BD is a smaller AA. Everything tends to be the same in Abysmal Abyssinia.

More to the point of why I am here, I have met with my colleagues from the department. I know the parts of the course which I am going to cover. The guys seem happy with my presence given that, if I am not mistaken, I happen to be the only “biochemist” residing on both sides of Abay. I hope I can live up to their expectations because they think of me, or at least I get the impression that they do, as “yeneka yebeka” which I am not. Don’t tell my students-to-be this but …, don’t tell them shit anyway.

I have been cooking with the help of pointers from my sisters and a couple of cook books. I have tried the usual suspects, i.e., shiro, pasta and enkulal. “Ambrosia” is the goal for the near future but in the meantime it will have to do with “fit for human consumption”.

The Papyrus Hotel’s swimming pool saw a turf war like it had never seen before. On one side there was the lifeguard who, when there is no one drowning, spends his time giving swimming lessons to a chick majority. He spends so much time in the water that when I saw him walking outside the water, I was flabbergasted; I had expected a mermaid. And on the other side there was Sami, who in the presence of chicks, would be inclined to give flying lessons let alone swimming ones. Ok I may have been a little harsh on Sami, who, being the good friend that he is, was trying to cajole me into entering the water. He did not succeed on this water’s front but I would get to dare a different kind of water.

It was with the same Sami (his name is being repeated too much in this post that I think I should replace it with a symbol or something) that I found myself in a wedding in Weramit kebele. Age of the groom = 18 though he did not look it, looked younger, bride ~ 10 years. They had to bring her from her parents’ house in the dark so that the affair would not be exposed. Go ahead and judge me for eating and drinking in an event that is more of a celebration of ignorance than a wedding. I too blame myself , taking what little comfort I can in what I heard from one villager: the girl will spend part of her time with her parents and the other part with her “husband” (like a sandwich masters program) and he is going to wait for her until eskitiders. But that I am snitching on my excellent hosts, I could get no good excuse for, except maybe for ” this would be good for the blog ” . And hey, they tried to get me drunk!

No they didn’t.

We ate and they gave me tela (or was it kirari?) which I drank. It did not taste unfamiliar; I suspect I had tasted some when I was much younger. Then came the areke and I savored it with the groom’s father and grandfather. And one wancha or melekia is never enough. They say “and gim new”. But un/luckily, my refills were not complete ones. And all the while, Sami is sitting next to me, drinking water, and enjoying the sight like crazy.

Did I get drunk? Well, that is a matter of perception. But if being drunk is doing things that you normally don’t do, guilty as charged-I had my shoe cleaned by a listro. If you know me well, that is pretty abnormal.

Man, everybody’s trying to get me drunk this year! My oooolder brother had me finish a bottle of giorgis saying his aim was not to make me techi but in some situations it was necessary to have one or two, for chewata’s sake.

Next stop, fornication! The drunkards must be saying “Don’t worry about that my good man! You get liquored up as should be and the choms will follow naturally”. What really made me laugh was what Mengie said when I told him about the drinking: “memihirnet jemersh malet newa!”

If we don’t respect ourselves then can we command it from someone else? True, teaching is a something we do against Biblical recommendations (kenante bizuwochachihu memhiran athunu). And the best teacher that ever was, we crucified Him. Still, sitting here writing this, my biggest wish is to be a darn good teacher who can do right by biochemistry and inspire his students. The day I know that I have accomplished this, I would not mind dropping whatever teaching aid I have in hand , like a standup comedian would his mic at the end of the show.

What can I say about Tis Abay Fuafuate? It is measly as compared to the picture I grew up watching. Ya ya ya, a large chunk of the flow is being diverted to an HEP station. May be I will check it out on the winter because the flow will get stronger, murkier and wider. And I advise you to carry a lot of pens with you when you go there because the children are bound to ask you for escribto. This girl asked me the same question and got what she did not want-esciribto. It pays to be an Ethiopian though-soon as a ferenj appears, all pestering would be directed towards her/him.

And an anecdote:

In college, my friend shared a dorm with a student who came from the countryside. While they were exchanging info regarding their whereabouts, the said student asks after learning my friend was from Addis Ababa, ”Bekelen tawkewaleh wey?”

Apparently,he had come  from a two Bekele town.

Happy Cinco de Mayo a.k.a. Yearbegnoch Metasebia Ken

Feels good to be back on the grind



4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. betty
    May 16, 2009 @ 23:10:33

    Hey papiye… I do prefer the alpha and Beta tilish came up with… not that he will get away with it though.

    I donot believe that it could have gotten ugly with sammiye… I mean at the end of day he will be saying just like the pancrease which has lost its Beta Cells (seriously totaly a coincidence about the Beta thing) ” I would if I could, but I cannot, so I won’t”


  2. tibebe
    May 14, 2009 @ 07:00:45

    Betty, how could you possibly be happy for Sami? Shit could have gotten ugly; the guy could have hit him with his powerful mermaid tail. I forget …
    And I have got pictures to help you picture whatever it was that you were having trouble picturing.
    T, how do you like your words marked –clipped or tagged?
    I think I prefer smaller towns; that is when I am not preferring bigger ones.
    Glad to know that you have not forgotten what wanaw kumneger was. And I like the idea of representing it with alpha-alpha after all rhymes with “I will fuck”. And once the balls are on the roll, we will let alpha beta represent it-for “I will fuck better”.
    I was not drunk dammit!
    I think Bale would be easier to visit given our connection there. But insh Allah, we shall visit them all!
    Saw AB’s office but he was no there.


  3. getere
    May 09, 2009 @ 20:51:53

    I’m very happy for you! Finally you’re on your own. It takes a while to get comfortable to a new place…

    And yeah, it is hot. I find it difficult to breathe sometimes. Addis Ababa is not too hot not too cold. Of course there is always the problem of “ye zetegn seat tsehay” + “yalmola taxi” but if you are indoors you can get the cool air you want.

    Staring at the water thing….interesting observation but its way better than yebole lijoch staring at the street from their parked cars. I guess if you have a good company you wouldn’t mind joining the flock. Mark my words.

    The size, that is one big difficulty that I have here 🙂

    I could visit you although I have been to Bahir Dar twice now. I’d like to visit some other place next time. Maybe further north to Mekelle or down south. I want to see Harer too. insh alah.


  4. betty
    May 04, 2009 @ 14:04:14

    Hey papiye….
    I really missed this, seriously….you took me on a sort of safari of BA ( if it can be called that)…. ( sort of if a lion could talk safari, becuse you did a great job through your writing.)… I wished I was there with you though. I see that Dinicho is up to his old tricks… well I for one am happy about that….

    What Menge said is… ROTF LOL

    you and kirari, areke, I still have trouble picturing that…

    But enjoy…


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