Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Strangeness and warmth

Today I presented the results of the last two days' work to a room full of staff and partner organisations – it fell to me because I designed the process that we have been using, and hey, who wants to present fifteen flip chart pages full of potentially controversial material to fifteen people if they can avoid it?


The flip charts had been typed up but we had already had too much Powerpoint (= some Powerpoint) so I went for sticking the originals up on the wall and moving between them. I started off on Malawi's national response to HIV/AIDS, trying to ignore the loud rustling noise my Malawian colleague J was making under the table, and the fact that my South African colleague L, sitting next to him, seemed to be trying very hard not to laugh.


Five minutes later he was still rustling and I was onto rights-based approaches, gender and empowerment. Then he waved something at me: he had made me a two foot long pointer out of a piece of flip chart paper and some Blu Tack. It looked like the world's biggest spliff. I think I lost some gravitas, but it did do the job.


I'm running short of clothes, so first thing this morning I tried ringing the number given for 'Laundry' on the sheet of internal extensions provided in my room. Nobody answered, just as nobody has answered for the last two days. So I wandered out into the corridor with my laundry bag, and handed it over to a smiling man who spoke no English but seemed to get what I was on about. When I ducked out of lunch four hours later in favour of a little time out and some Tesco Value peanuts in my room, I was amazed to find everything lying on my bed, neatly pressed and wrapped in plastic.


They've never washed and dried it in that time, I thought. And they hadn't. They had dry-cleaned it. All of it. Including my pants. So I now smell like a branch of Johnson's the Cleaners, and god only knows how much it will cost.


But I'm loving the place really. After the workshop my South African colleague, my Dutch colleague and I jumped in the pool – it's barely 20 degrees here and the water was freezing, but the sun was setting, the light was beautiful and we had had a long and tiring day. As we swam up and down with our teeth chattering one of the waiters came over from the bar and said 'can I get you a hot drink?'. There's a huge amount of good nature around the place, and I feel very lucky to be experiencing some of it.





Blogger Phil said...

Sounds like you're having a lovely time and escaping the oppressive heat of England. It was 52 degrees C on a bus according to the evening standard.
So good to hear good news too. Especially out of Africa. The middle east is literaly going down the shitter. I think Israel could have done with reading that sign on your office toilet door.

11:32 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home