Saturday, August 26, 2006

the dichotomies of africa

Life in Africa? Well, it's been four months here in malawi and there is something about life here that brings in me conflicting responses. some days, i miss home so much that i can barely stand it. other days (and more often as time passes), i get a brief glimspe of life in its glorious forms. there is something about being here that makes you feel alive. what does that mean anyway - when people say i feel alive? can you remember back to certain moments in your life where you felt most alive? for me, i can remember a particular moment. i was running on an extremely hot afternoon in my home town...i was sweaty, hot, and had been running for over an hour but felt a boost of energy as i glanced at the quiet trail with blurs of greenery rushing past me. i remember thinking how happy i was to be alive and how connected i felt to my surroundings right then. it's as if you suddenly become privy to a secret that only you understand...but the moment is so quick, you wonder how it happened when you are jolted back to reality. shrug. maybe the heat had gotten to me more than i had thought :). in any case, back to my point...here...the instances i feel like that are much more frequent. how can i not when i see land that stretches as far as the eye could see just beyond some very modern looking buildings.

the dichotomy of life is magnified here. what's different? well, i'm sure you've heard plenty of times that life is just simpler. who knew how servicable a pair of black shoes can be. fit for work, fit for weddings, fit for dancing, fit for chillin. it's amazing how your perspective of what you think you need changes so quickly. here, even the internationals who temporarily make this their home are different. i suppose this land attracts certain types of people. so much the same, but so much that's different. they are still scared of spiders but will fearlessly hike through snake infested mountains. they dance to Kanye West tunes but will ensure to stack KuthiKuthi in their homes. they spend hard earned money on luxurious trips to the spa but will rough it camping with heavy rain pelting down their tents. what can i say? they're just heartier, minimum fuss, no fear of bilharzia (water parasites), bring on the hippos (common in the lake), let's see the top of the mountain type of people. my dichotomy? life here brings out my my my strengths and my weaknesses. my strength? minimum fuss. i dont need 10 different pairs of going out shoes. my weakness? i wasnt scared of snakes until i started to frequently see them on random trips to say...a restaurant. now i check under my bed at night. my strength? i have a knack for picking up languages quickly. so i enrolled myself in french lessons while i try to pick up Chichewa for free :). my weakness? fear of the unknown. my strength? the unknown becomes less unknown every day.

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