Monthly Archives: April 2012

I Had a Public Meltdown!

I went into downtown yesterday to take care of some super annoying bank issues. I wanted to spend the rest of my afternoon checking out some of the shops and getting a coffee alone with nobody bothering me but I had one interruption after the other!!

First, when I was looking for a phone to call my bank I had a guy approach me trying to sell safaris….he was so persistent that he insisted he show me the way to the place with phones I could use and he stood a few metres away from me the entire time I was on the phone despite me telling him i was NOT going to buy anything from him. Next, I wanted to have coffee at a cafe across the street, I was immediately bombarded by people begging me to look in their shops. I actually did want a pair of earrings so I looked at some stuff but OMG these ppl are like blood thirsty vultures.

I felt so harassed that I didn’t even go to the cafe since they are all crowded around it like flies waiting for westerners who they assume are all rich to try to rip them off. so I continued down the road to see if I could find another place….I was approached by another person who attempted to follow me and guide me (and obviously try to sell me something) I was so pissed off that I yelled at him, and admittedly made a bit of a scene but omfg he deserved it!!

Aside from the hot showers and electricity whenever I want, the one thing I miss more than anything else from the west is the right to personal space…..being able to walk down the street without being constantly harassed.

I feel like I have written a lot about the things I miss from home, or the things I dont like here…but being here has inspired a lot of positive thoughts as well. I work with children who have what most westerners would think of as nothing….most of them only get to eat one bowl of porrige and a piece of fruit everyday and they go to a class where all they have is one pencil each and a notebook. There are no supplies in the class aside from a few pens, chalk and a blackboard. I was so surprised to see that they dont even have any books to read, or coloured pencils, crayons and paper for drawing and colouring. Seeing how little they have to get by with has made me realize how wasteful and overconsumptive I have been from living a spoiled life of ‘ask and it shall be given’ with my parents.

I thought about how cheap it would be to supply a class of kids here with the basic classroom necessities, and compared that to how much I have spent on clothes that I’ve overpayed for and only worn once or twice and some things that I’ve bought and never even worn….it’s all such a waste!

I am going to do a bit of a downsizing when I get home, and moving forward make better decisions about what is a need and what is a want, not allowing my wants to rule me so much.

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The Only Thing I Don’t Miss About Home…..

I have been here for a week and a half now, and I am starting to miss and realize how much I have taken for granted in my life 

Things I miss

  • Beaker (my parrot) 
  • Always having hot water and electricity 
  • Driving or being driven rather than having to packed into disgusting dirty public transit with a bunch of ppl, many who stink. 
  • Not having to worry about finding giant bugs all over my floor, in the sinks and in the shower 
  • I miss eating healthy food, steamed broccoli, grilled asparagus, chicken and salmon (EVERYTHING here is cooked in oil) apparently in African culture the fatter you are the better….on BBQ night we had fried chicken! LOL
  • The gym….of course along with placing high value on being fat, nobody exercises either, and there are no proper roads here so if I went running I would likely sprain my ankle 
  • Hearing western music that’s something other than Hip Hop or R&B 

Things I Don’t Miss 

  • Reality TV 

 

So there you have it, I miss just about everything about home…I still do think in the future I would like to do NGO work, or work in any way that helps underdeveloped nations become more structured and educated, but trying to do that by actually going and living in poverty myself for a couple years…..I can say a big NO to that, I would miss home and the people I’m close to way too much. A job where I could travel to monitor projects every now and then while being based somewhere out of the western world, I think that would be more my cup of tea.

Sparkling Sky, Sparkling Ocean

Feeling a lot better since the last post I’ve made, I’m adjusting to things in Africa more and have met more interesting people who are closer to my age and capable of carrying intelligent conversation, yay!

I think one of the biggest surprises for me is that I haven’t been sad at all observing the poverty people live in here. You know when you see those ads on tv that make you feel sooooo bad for the people living in third world countries. I thought it would be like that but 1000000 X worse. It isn’t though……and that’s because despite having nothing material, the people here are some of the happiest and friendliest I have ever met. I guess there’s truth behind “mo’ money mo’ problems” hmmm, I can’t remember what song that was from. It will be interesting to see when I get back if I’m less fixated on having an abundance of material things.

In other news, I’ve discovered my appreciation for having screens on windows in Canada, yesterday when I was going to have a shower I saw two giant cockroaches and there was a grasshopper in my sink. I didn’t mind the grasshopper but I couldn’t brave getting rid of the roaches myself so I decided to just not shower until I arrived in Zanzibar.

I got here in Zanzibar yesterday in afternoon and so far I have managed to meet a random American girl and South African guy who are friends at the airport tourist info office and accepted an invite to stay with them on the north part of the Island, crashed the honeymoon of the South African’s friends (he wrote an awesome poem for them which he recited on the beach and had champagne, it was really lovely) Got an amazing bungalow on the beach for $25 a night split between 3 of us, and went night swimming under the starriest sky I’ve ever seen and saw that the plankton here sparkles at night! Never seen anything like it before…..words can’t describe how amazing this place is, and I’ve made some great new friends.

Jen, the American works for the US gov. working with farmers in a few African countries providing grant money and educating them on business structure. Sounds like a very cool job, helping to make a difference in ways that progressive change is actually made in developing countries and getting paid at the same time lol. She did do peace core for two years in Botswana, so I can see how that’s deserving of an amazing job. It’s been nice to meet someone with that kind of balance that I just wrote about it being difficult to find.

We woke up at around 6am today an did yoga on the beach because Felix, the South African is a yoga instructor as well as being a pilot, pretty cool!

I wish I could upload photos here, the beach really is the best I’ve ever been to and I will never forget the sparkling Indian Ocean at night. I’m definitely going to be back here someday.

There has been other spontaneous adventure over the past few days but I can’t blog about all of it right now. Will hopefully write again next week as more stuff happens.

 

OMG Culture Shock

I just wanted to write a quick post to let everyone know I’ve arrived in Tanzania safely and am experiencing the biggest culture shock of my life. I felt a bit out of place Sunday and Monday because I find I don’t relate to any of the other volunteers here as they’re all just either in their late teens or early 20’s and I can already sense that their starry eyed idealism is going to fade away once they get through university and are exposed to the “real world” of feeling the need to do well and earn good money…..

So I’m spending most of my time in solitude, and I sensed it would be this way before I came…..a time for self reflection and a reassessment of values to find a more balanced way of living a life that’s still “professional” yet maintaining my altruistic values at the same time, because I often start to see things in black and white i.e. To give back to the world, you have to be poor, and to live a life that’s comfortable materially you have to be greedy and self centred…..I’m sure there’s a middle ground somewhere. I’m very well aware that I can’t change the world in a few short weeks of volunteering overseas at an orphanage, but I feel that I’m getting a broader perspective of life by being here and also assessing what can actually be done to help make positive changes over here….I can see that idealism and having a fairy like mentality of waving magic wands and changing the world like most of the 18-20 year olds here have isn’t really the answer. Although their hearts are in the right place to make a large impact, for anything to thrive there needs to be a combination of business mindedness and love for humanity.

Up until this morning when I met all the kids at the orphanage I started asking myself  “why did I come here!?” because I was feeling a bit isolated and also awkward because being of Indian ancestry,  I have been getting mistaken for a Tanzanian since there are a lot of Indian people living here and most people have expected that I would be able to speak Swahili. Before I came here people told me everyone would be able to recognize that I’m a tourist…….but I suppose when you take away the fancy clothes, make up and I’m sweaty and disgusting just like everyone else you can tell the difference! LOL

I will probably post another blog entry in a few days, I will be going to Zanzibar by myself this weekend for some beach time. No cute pics this time cause the internet here is very slow!

 

The Rhythm of the Universe

I know I just wrote a blog entry about why I disagree with organized religion the other day, and maybe that has left some of you thinking I don’t believe in any sort of higher power, that we are all just born, live a life filled with random meaningless events that are decided upon by either our free will, someone else’s free will or coincidence then we die, decay and that’s the end…..

Far from it, for a long time I’ve had a sense that there is indeed an order to the universe, all life is meant to exist in balance, and everything is somehow connected, or in other words, Karma. Obviously the  human civilization has gotten to a point where the balance on the scale has tipped very far in one direction….maybe I’m a bit too idealistic, but I do believe that things will eventually get so bad that civilization is shaken into the opposite direction, that which ranks diplomacy and peaceful negotiation much higher than war and hate.

The global scale may not be the best representation to observe how things balance out evenly in life, it’s better to search for examples from your own life in which something that seemed negative ended up turning into something positive. I’m just going to take a really small example because I don’t want to turn my blog into stories about other people who have been in my life…..this isn’t the dirty.com lol.

I was travelling through Italy by myself last summer, when I was in Florence I decided to go to Pisa for a day. I was supposed to take the train back to Florence later in the afternoon but unexpectedly I had visited on the day of the festival of St. Renieri and there was a lot going on so I decided to stay later to see the fireworks. I planned to take the last bus back to Florence around 1 am. To my horror when I went to the station, more people had bought tickets than there were seats and there was a mob of angry Italians literally beating the s*&t out of each other attempting to get onto this bus. I didn’t want to get hurt so I didn’t even try, I thought maybe 200 euro cab ride would be an option, but nope….there were a few road closures due to the festival so cabs weren’t even really working. The next train was at 7am. I was almost sure I was  going to end up having to stay awake alone all night in the station, because hotels would likely be all full due to the festival. I tried the hotel across from the station anyway…..and they had one room left!! When I got back to my hotel in Florence I told the concierge about what happened to me, cause I’m pretty sure I looked like I was doing the walk of shame back into the building with my messed up make up and yesterdays outfit on. To my surprise he was so nice that he refunded me in cash for the night I didn’t sleep at the hotel despite all my stuff being in the room! So that’s my example on how things usually balance out evenly with all the various ups and downs.

Now for more on why I feel everything is connected and there is an order to things that happen, not just randomness and chaos….

I met up with my friend Simon for sushi last night and he had the idea to go to a bar in his area that he’s never been to before, so we went and the place had a really cool vibe. I noticed that one guy sitting near us was talking about Tanzania, and of course I had to join in the conversation because I’m going there in a few days!! I asked him about what he was doing over there and he climbed Kilimanjaro just like I’m going to be doing!! It was very cool to hear about another persons expereince, it was very encouraging and made me even more excited. He also told me about some other stuff I should see when I’m there.

Even more interesting, the guy who was sitting beside us on the other side had volunteered in Uganda years ago and now works as a consultant for not for profit companies helping them develop business plans, organize fund raisers and implement structure. I came up with an idea recently for a Not for profit organization that I will be starting up when I get back from my trip, he gave me some ideas on how to improve on my initial burst of inspiration and I have a great contact now for when I get back. I got some insight about not for profits that I never really expected. Apparently there’s a lot of competition and ego involved…..and here I was thinking everyone sees things as working together towards the same cause rather than “pffft, I raised more money than you! bow down!”

Last night definitely did not happen just by coincidence……I mean, what are the odds? Incidents like that of last night just show me that when you set out to do things that benefit not only yourself but the greater good, the universe will conspire with your efforts so it can happen.

I’m leaving on Saturday and so excited!! I waited last min to get all my shots because I’m scared of needles….I got three today and I seriously almost fainted! lol. I can imagine fearlessly jumping out of a plane, swimming with sharks, etc. etc. but a little pin prick from a needle scares me. I thought I was going to cry when I was sitting there waiting! 😐

I’m almost all packed, I’ve got a bunch of supplies for the kids I’m going to be working with, my mountain climbing stuff (warm coat, hiking boots etc.) I have some ideas of what I’m going to be doing while I’m not working, but for the most part I’m leaving up to spontaneity. I will be updating my blog as much as I can from Tanzania depending on if I have sufficient internet access.

I’m going to miss all of you!

xoxoxo

Jesus Died for Your Sins, and Came Back to Eat your Brains, Issues With Religion

I decided to postpone writing my entry analyzing why male tennis players choose to have so much hair despite being sweaty all the time, and also postpone starting my blog series “places to pick up the opposite sex” because the engagement party last night was terrible, everyone was in couples and the very few single guys were not good enough looking for me, and we left early lol.

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So instead, I bring you a rant about religion, with appropriate timing I think! First though, a bit about Easter because I know most of my readers are non christian’s and wouldn’t have likely been taught about the story of Easter…Oddly, I’m baptized and raised Catholic, which is likely due to mission workers who travelledl abroad to save the souls of my ancestors by leading us away from Hinduism and into the light  *rolls eyes*…….I went to catholic school, in which we had to sit through religion class and learn about stuff from the Bible. My memory isn’t too sharp on most of this stuff since I’m not religious at all, but I can state in short form what happened around Easter. Jerusalem was under rule of the Roman Empire while Jesus had a large following in the Jewish population for doing such things as walking on water, turning water into wine and feeding hundred’s with one loaf of bread and a few fish. The Romans saw Jesus as a threat due to the potential of him leading an uprising. He was charged with criminal offences which he was found guilty of, then he was executed by being nailed to a cross.  It has been said that he rose from the dead three days after….so he must have been a zombie right? Perhaps the people of this era just weren’t familiar with symptoms of zombism and just thought he was acting strange. My theory is they found the tomb open because after the burial brain hungry zombies raided it,  eating Jesus’ brain thus transforming him into a zombie. I suspect zombies of this era just layed low most of the time and only operated in darkness….cause I think even zombies wouldn’t want to mess with the Romans, I know I wouldn’t!

Ok, so I’m being really silly, but I don’t see how much sillier my theory is than much of the stuff that’s written in the bible. I honestly have an easier time believing in aliens than I do believing we are all the descendants of one man and a woman who was made out of his rib….

I do think religion can be very interesting, but at the same time I think ancient scriptures were not meant to be taken literally, but much of what was written was symbolic and the problem with that is we cannot exactly interpret what was trying to be said. Not only does symbolism make things cloudy, but a lot of meaning may have been lost in translation. I do realize I may be offending a lot of people with this, but my point here isn’t to insult people who are religious, because being “religious” isn’t really the problem. I feel people can be religious in a very productive way or a very unproductive way.  In my opinion, taking every little detail as fact and not having any proof that it is fact and fighting with those who don’t agree and telling them they’re going to burn in hell for their sins…that’s not being productive. On the flip side, doing your best to live your life by some of the principles of religion is productive. Another example of unproductive religiousness are the stereotypical bible thumping red necks who are racist, anti homo sexual, pro war etc. etc.   It makes no sense to me because they claim to be good Christians, yet they’re clearly placing major judgement on others….and I’ve never heard any religious teachings that claim we should be judging others. Then the whole racist thing, I’ve always found it hilarious because Jesus wasn’t even white!!

I know I’ve been using Jesus and the bible as my point of reference, and that’s not meant to be an attack on Christianity, it was just the most convenient for me to use. I think the same contrast between being religious in a productive way or unproductive way exist in any religion.

cons of organized religion:

  • turns people against each other and keeps them closed minded, differences in religion have been an ongoing cause of conflict between individuals and nations. I have seen marriages that should have happened not happen simply over the fact that the two people were of different religions and their families were completely opposed to it, religion ruins love!
  • uses fear to disempower people, many religions attempt to scare people into adhering to certain behaviour. Also, a fear of not conforming to the ways of everyone else exists within many religious communities. I feel like religion, along with other organized institutions that are part of our lives can deter people from exploring who they really are or their full potential because whatever it is they’re wanting to express is frowned upon by their religion. A really big one that most people overlook delving deeper into is their own intuitive potential. Anything even a bit esoteric was frowned upon by the church, and it seems that today much of that realm is still frowned upon and untouched.
  • members of the communities donate money to their churches and temples and in my opinion it doesn’t go anywhere positive….religion isn’t something progressive that’s changing for the better. It’s the same books preached over and over again and that money is most likely going towards lawn maintenance and utility bills. That money could be invested into soooo many better things

As you can see I could go on and on, but now I will get to the pro’s

  • after mass is always the time to hear the best gossip
  • It provides us with holidays that we can take off work and spend with our family and friends that would not exist if it wasn’t for organized religion
  • Most of these holidays involve stuffing our faces with food, getting really drunk and getting gifts

I still think the cons outweigh the pro’s, but I will enjoy the pro’s and I hope you all remember what this day is really about! It’s about celebrating chickens mating with rabbits to give us those amazing chocolate eggs!! Happy Easter everyone 🙂