the week in brief

Let’s see…

Well, I celebrated my three-years-in-Bahir Dar anniversary. I drank more ethanol than any other week in my life. Taught foreigners for the first time.


I hear a significant proportion of one of my new classes consists in Eritrean refugees. And that was why I was stressed to a higher degree than the usual level of stress that I experience before starting a new class; or before any class for that matter. I mean, I am representing Etyopia here, people! So my English has got to be on point; I have to bring my A game on subject matter. And my better self says to remember that I am here to teach, regardless of creed, race or color.

The class went aight. One of those classes.  Couldn’t tell Etyopian from Eritrean. They all channel apathy in the same way. I tell you–you cannot tell them apart! And I am not trying to channel Teddy here, trust me.

And yet, I tried to be careful about my wording and got queasy when:

  • a student used cluster to define the aggregates formed by hydrophobic interactions
  • I likened hydrophobic interactions (and the freedom of water molecules that they engender) to hoarding prisoners in a single cell and with the minimum number of guards, the guards being water molecules
  • I used the enemy of my enemy is my friend to point out that,  even though they don’t possess a marked affinity for each other,  non-polar substances  come together in the face of a common enemy–water

I learned that Chinese scientists succeeded in cloning a sheep with zero cholesterol ergo making it something to be devoured with no worries. Get the fuck outta here ETV! How long are people going to go on demeaning my good fellow cholesterol and get away with it scot free? Feel free to Google the actual news.  This week I discovered Yeshi Demelash. Voice like Mikaya (which I don’t hate), and I’m getting sick of patriotic songs (Etyopia, Habesha, Arenguade BiCHa Qey, wené, Abay, andegna, wezete; why don’t they sing about the all the good contributions of cholesterol for a change) but a decent album all the same.  And to my surprise, she is the judge from idol! I don’t watch that much TV.

Although the video does not show it, she does a nice riff at the end. A riff, I hear that’s what it’s called.



stone soup. yedingay shorba

Below is the ferenj version of the story of the stone soup:

The etyopian version, well it is not so much a story as an aphorism —tagash yedingay shorba yiTeTal. This expression was made famous–at least in our circle–by Sami. The circle in question–or what’s left of it–comes together every several years.  In one such recent occasion, the story of the soup got the chance to be brought up again.

The four of us (two of the chicks, Sami and I) are kicking it with Mona’s mom and dad. Even under normal conditions, when you have brought Sami along, there would be no shortage of topics of conversations. But when Sami decides to bring along his outrageous dreads (Lord forgive that boy!), well then you know it is going to be topic bonanza. This song, Ganja Bonanza, is ringing in my head; but that does not mean Sami smokes weed. He’s just confused; or maybe he has got a lot of useful thoughts and he is trying to reach out to the world with his hair; share with us multidimensional pieces of his mind; or  he may recently have picked up the bible and stumbled uponThe Book of Judges; or maybe he’s just plain confused.

Dad is amazed by Sami’s dexterity with the Amharic language that he asks what his major in college was. Of course, all four of us are thallophyters (that is biologists for the uninitiated.) It’s testimony time from his friends and I jump in. I quote him on, what I believe is, one of his finest  utterances viz. the stone soup and patience. Mom and dad join us in our chorus of plaudits for the saying and the one who said it.  I credit the stone soup with being the one thing that keeps me going when I get frustrated by my haplessness (and helplessness) on matters pertaining to the fairer sex.

Sami goes on to heap insult to injury. He likens my excruciating vigil at the gates of love to that of a cat which waits on end for a mouse to come out of its burrow.

But it is all good. Once we have said farewell to our wonderful hosts, we were out on the streets, laughing it out, referring to potential targets as mice.

Unrelated; or a bit related…

When I came to Bahir Dar, I had told myself and others that it was going to be for three years.  After that, the plan was to pursue (it sounds as if I am chasing a paper and it is running for dear life) further education, or having failed to do that, relocate to a different part of the country. There was also that subliminal mission to be accomplished in those three years –I was to sow my oats. I’ve had it all figured out. From what I had heard, all I needed to bring was a copulatory organ and the girls in Bahir Dar were going to do the rest –initiation, follow through, the whole enchilada. A magazine with “Gonder and Bahir Dar: Bewesib YekeleTu Ketemoch” for a front cover teaser springs to mind. That was to be my life.

I hate it when Gonder is written as Gondar. It gives the impression that Bahir Dar and Gon Dar are twin cities or something.

Now it has been well nigh three years. And since the only oats I have been dealing with thus far is the one that I eat for breakfast, I believe it is high time for change. Kind of bide my destiny at a different location. I should move on before my attachment with Ba Da grows and makes it harder for me to leave.

And the nominees are (drum rolls)

With shared pros of newness and dusty roads and salty water for respective cons, ladies and gentlemen, damas y caballeros, I give you Jimma and Mekelle. Give it up for them.

There is also that lurking wish shared with almost every other member of the Etyopian intelligentsia (if I may dare call myself that) of going abroad and pursuing…

Why am I telling you all this? I am doing it for myself. I am using it as a public reminder for myself that I have got to make a change in my life in many respects; that I must beat my fear of the unknown which has started to creep up on me now that the deadline is looming; something that goes “but you told everybody that you were going to…” when I start to get cold feet (like I know I will).  I need to be prepared for and do what each of my possible alternate situation may require of me. And I am a Gemini and we are supposed to multitask.

This past three days have been disappointing in that I’ve been struggling to get into the rhythm of getting even the smallest of things done. (“The grand scheme of things thrives on the smaller stuff” Somebody. Somewhere.)

So get cracking!


gone gena

Going home for Gena armed with a to-do-list having 41 things on it. Well, first on the list was “make a to-do-list”, which I managed to cross out without delay, and with an immense sense of self-satisfaction. The stuff in there is diverse; some I have to do before I leave, and the others, while in Addis Abeba: taking the mobile charger home, drinking filter Tela in exhibition center, buying return tickets before they are sold out, lidet, leqso, herbals from Ariti, coffee from Robera, leaving keys with people, find a quote that has to do with gout, wezete wezete.

The beauty of to-do-lists lies not only in their service as useful reminders (of sometimes useless stuff) but also in the ease with which one can compose them. A piece of paper and a pen in one’s pocket is all what it takes.

I’ll tell you what is difficult to compose –“a done-list”. Lives are spent making an endless list of wishes, needs, desires, … , all the while paying little or no attention to the things that have been achieved, to the things that really matter, to Providence.

I know that instead of counting my blessings, kicking back and enjoying the holiday, my mind and body will be running hither and thither, trying to cross out an additional thing from the list. However, trite as it may seem, the fact that I am going back home to a family that, to borrow an expression from Arrow of God, is “quiet” , is top of my done-list, and by miles too.


And oh, asina bel asina genaye 🙂

undun – the roots

Laptop speakers don’t do it justice. Headphones (or big ass speakers) is the only way this shit is supposed to be enjoyed.

The Roots man, I used to think of them as “that bizarre group’’ what with the appearance of ?uestlove. Break You Off was the song that properly introduced me to them and now, I am a proud owner of ten of their albums; now, I wish I could be cool and spit like Black Thought.

I am glad to have looked forward to Undun. It has been said already -The Roots never anticippoint! Too short though 😦

My present favorites –Lighthouse and The Other Side. But the whole thing is amazing. I have lost count of the number of times I’ve heard it in the past two days. In fact, it is probably the only good thing to have happened to me in a painful streak of bad classes, the thoughts of someone (methinks I’m in love!) and coccydynia (cool name, but messes your days up. Funny, when it started, I was all excited like “Look! I am sick! :grin:” (“enem weg deresegne” aynet neger) Now every morning I be down like “It’s getting worse :sad:”)

How did I get hold of the album? I downloaded it of course. And I sincerely apologize to The Roots for they deserve so much more. That’s why I promise to buy all of their albums in the near future and “play them at high volume, preferably in a residential area.” They can take that to the bank.

Styles P’s verse from Rising Down “… they call it downloading, I call it downsizing…”

Chris Rock’s verse from Blame Game “…Imma buy his album, Imma download that.. Imma shoot a bootlegger!…”
Let my landlord’s kid rock to Lil Wayne and Rick Ross; I be steady bumping The Roots, my peoples!

I don’t want you to get the wrong impression of me as a neophobe, a dedicated naysayer to most of today’s music. I had also downloaded Tha Carter IV and R.E.D. Album. No raves and promises there.


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