Claire’s trip week 11
‘come and see the grasshoppers’
18th November to 24th November, 2013
I have been wondering what to write about this week, but again I have so much. You will recall that I was worried about my glasses but I have also been worried about my hearing and did not want to say in case I was sounding like a hypochondriac. I saw Manjit last Friday and asked him if I could be losing my hearing as a side effect of having had labyrinthitis shortly I arrived. He said it was possible and to have my hearing checked. As I’m not sure how to do this I decided that I would try really hard to listen and see if I could hear properly. The reason why I was worried was that I could hear but I couldn’t understand the words even though they were speaking English. I was finding it particularly difficult when talking to people on the phone. Face to face I seem to be fine but on the phone I have no idea, and so all week I have concentrated really hard when talking to people and using the phone. This has resulted in me having many attacks of the giggles, sometimes finding it difficult not to laugh out loud. I used to get the giggles at school and was always being sent out, but I felt I was too old for that now so had to control myself but it has been difficult on occasions.
This week has been my busiest yet having been asked to do a 20 minute input in a training session with specialist Special Needs teachers which took about one hour and 45 minutes because the 5 minute activity took about 50 minutes and then after you have finished whatever you were doing they all feel duty bound to thank you for doing the presentation/training etc and to make personal comments on the same. Then they all ask questions and once one has they all feel they should and when there are 20 or so in the group this can be quite time consuming and intense as you have to answer the questions and justify your approach, addressing each point in a personal fashion to the one who asked it.
So, my analysis of the situation is that vowels are interchangeable and that they can be used differently in different words. For example ‘a’ can be ‘e’ and ‘i’ and ‘u’. Generous opened the meeting and Mathias then explained what we were all there for. All good so far until he started to talk about a fact sheet but when the ‘a’ is a ‘u’ it is not so good. I was a little shocked and my head took a minute to sort out the real meaning. Generous also told me that she did not want any of my English pace (said pass, ‘a’ as in apple) but when the ‘a’ is an ‘i’ it also does not sound nice. When I went to the choir rehearsal in Namerembe (said with bay on the end not be) Cathedral I found myself singing loola, loola, loola and wondering what these words were until ‘by’ was put on the end so lullaby is loolaby. One of the items we are singing is the Hymn of Praise by Mendelssohn and I again was singing, but this time differently from the others. They were singing ‘guide on your armour’ and I was singing gird on your armour’ so now I sing guide.
Every meeting opens with a prayer and you get picked on to do it which is ok for some and not for others but you don’t seem to be allowed to say no. (That is because there is no word for no in the Ugandan language which is really interesting and that is why they book 4 things to do at the same time in different places on the same day. They cannot say no and so yes is the only option. I also find this word difficult but before I left was trying to practice using it although not succeeding very well so I have been told – so I should fit in well here!!!) Every cup of coffee is blessed and all meals, that’s fine, but …….. I felt really sorry for Sarah as she was picked on to say the lunch time prayer at the workshop on one of the days and she said thank you for the food and asked for the blessing of it, but then she said ‘there are those who have the appetite and no food and there are those who have food and no appetite but thank God we have both so let’s eat’. Amen. Everybody laughed and I was really surprised and I was embarrassed for her. I just hope I am never picked on as I am bound to say something like that too.
The workshop is 5 days long and it started on Wednesday so we are having to work on Saturday and Sunday -8.00 until 4.00.I asked Generous why it could not start next Monday and run until Friday but she said she had only rung the people on Tuesday and as many will have travelled 6 or 7 hours to reach Kampala then it had to start tomorrow. I didn’t see the logic but agreed anyway! Another example of where people cannot say no! At the beginning of the workshop I said ‘Hello, my name is Claire’ to the ladies next to me and one said ‘Hello, I’m Immaculate, init’. I was a bit surprised as I thought she was describing herself because she was indeed immaculate. I was pondering over why she said ‘init’ when she pointed to the other lady and said’ This one is Init’. Another problem solved!!
We have been working in teams and looking at the different Learning Areas looking to see how we can make it more inclusive. I was in the Maths and Science team, of course where else would I be? Maths was ok and I found I could understand most of what was said because I had a copy of the proposed curriculum in front of me. However, science was a different matter. I again had the curriculum but they were reading words I did not have. They kept talking about Calishium or Calishiam and lid and lid ba (short sound not bee but b) and groth. Asking was not going to help me so tried to find the page they were on and to follow what they were saying and found it was calcium, lead bar and growth. The vowels are very short and I am sure I will get it sorted out so I can understand more especially when on the phone now that I understand the code!
We were looking at the learning outcomes for the students and the apparatus list and making sure that all learners can do the activities whatever their ability or disability (I must write about this one day but I know it will make me cry while I write about it, because disability here is so much more prevalent and the peoples situations are so sad) and then adding to the list of apparatus. We were looking at knowing the difference between asexual and sexual reproduction and Sarah said ‘Ah! This is where we need a male goat!’ I had to go to the toilet because the giggles got hold of me! When I returned they had indeed added ‘male goat’ to the list and everyone was satisfied. How this helps students who are visually or hearing impaired, or have no limbs or are wheel chair bound or dyslexic, have dyspraxia or are autistic etc etc I am not sure. I can just imagine schools all over Uganda taking into school male goats when required. This is a giggle trigger!
Other letters are also interchangeable like L and R. In school the topic was transport and the teacher was talking about lorries and wrote on the board lorry and lorries and then said repeat after me ‘rorry’ and ‘rorries’, so then the 70 children in the class at break time were yelling, as far as a Ugandan ever yells which is barely above normal speaking volume, rorry! rorry! R is also L and so fried is flied.
I also found out that my boda man is not called Matumba but Katumba and all his friends have been laughing at him because of me – Mama Muzungu as I am known! I will have to apologise to him but he also gets a lot of money from me every week, but it is still not nice to get someones name wrong. I know this because they cannot say my name, I am known as Clayer. It’s beginning to grow on me though. When I phone him I say ‘Hello, it’s Claire’ and he says ‘I’m coming, I’m coming’. Not that he knows where to necessarily. I ask him how long and he says ‘I’m coming, I’m coming’. So the other day when he was taking me to choir I asked him if he could pick me up afterwards and what time did he finish work? He said ‘2’ and I asked ‘which 2, the 2 when you should be asleep or the 2 after lunch?’ and he said the ‘other 2, other 2,’ so I said I didn’t know another 2, then he said ‘Ah 4, the other 2,’ then I said ‘but it is 6 now, so how can you stop at 4’ and he said ‘Ah! I mean 8’. So we established that he couldn’t pick me up as choir finishes at 9.
With all this going on I have decided to learn Lugandan. I am really rubbish at languages but I’m going to try and I am sure they find it just as difficult to understand me. So far I have learnt and these are the right spellings: Ensenene (the ‘e’ is an ‘a’ as is apple) = grasshopper, Enswa ( the ‘a’ is ‘a’ in apple) = flying ant , I hope I don’t have to add them to my shopping list next week! These are as they sound so: Ollyotear (tear as in crying) = Hello, how are you, the response is Bulungi (correct spelling said Boo lun gee) = fine. If you are not fine you add an s so s bulungi = not fine. Sourmaker = How long? This is going to be invaluable for Katumba as long as he replies in English! Also Weberlay (said as it is written but not correctly spelt) = thank you and Weberlay Nyo = thank you very much. I don’t know how to say Nyo as we don’t have a sound like it – you have to say nnnnnnn with your tongue in the roof of your mouth as if you are humming and then say (y as in Yacht and o as in octopus – put the sounds together) and then sort of swallow the sound – nyo!
We have a mid-morning snack at the workshop which is very nice and we have had hard boiled eggs, beef samosas and bananas all together on the same plate, tea or coffee, but today we had daddies. These are made of flour and water and sugar and it looks as if the dough, although I’m not sure this is what it is, is made into long thin strips and then twisted into a twisty shape and then squeezed together at the end to stop them coming apart and then flied (fried.) They are about 2 inches long and is a bit like eating a stick of chalk, quite hard and sort of dry and crumbly at the same time. They’re good!
I thought that mobile phones ruled the roost in England but here everyone has about three and they spend all day charging them, swapping batteries and sim cards from one to the other and back again. Someone dropped theirs on the floor and someone asked, in a genuinely very concerned voice, ‘Will it live again!?’ A deathly hush pursued over the meeting until it proved that it would indeed live again and everyone clapped!!!!! Well, what can you say???
The one thing I did not think about before I came here was to replace my watch battery and it has died. I thought of everything else in the world but not that. So I asked someone where I could buy one and their response was ‘Do you want it to work?’ I felt like saying that was the general idea but just said yes please (like a polite Muzungu). If I did not want it to work I could pay 2,000//= in Owino Market or 36,000//= in Garden City. I guess I am off to Garden City then!
This week I received a text from Laura saying she would pick up bread and milk, another text saying and eggs and another text saying and Grasshoppers. I then text back saying I would have the cheese in the fridge instead and she could have the Grasshoppers, but alas! when I got home she was so excited she said ‘come and see the grasshoppers’ which I did and then she said, exactly what I been worrying about ‘you have to have one’. No I don’t I thought and said so, but she so wanted me to have one that I did, I ate one!!!!! It was actually quite good. Nice and sweet really, they fry them in sugar so they are sort of caramelised. I just had to pretend I couldn’t see the eye through the glaze!!!!
It is the breeding season for grasshoppers for the next two weeks or so and fly about in great clumps, so everyone is out trying to catch then in their hands. They are a delicacy and you can get lots of money for them. The people are so cleaver and accurate they catch loads and then sell them. Donald said that my boda guy Katumba was a boda man because he did not go to school when young because he spent too much time up mango tress picking mangoes. ‘That is what happens if you pick mangoes!!!’ It is probably true but even so someone has to pick the mangoes!
On Thursday I lead a 2 hour workshop with the NCDC staff introducing them to Inclusion as they don’t understand what the difference is between Special Needs and Inclusion. Anyway, I did a problem-solving activity involving a Farmer, a goose, a fox and a bag of beans and a boat and they had to work out how to take them all across the river when only the farmer and one other item could cross in the boat at any one time and all the items had to be alive and intact at the end so the fox couldn’t be left with the goose, or the goose with the beans etc. One man said this is no challenge look and showed me how it could be done. He leaned back in his chair folded his arms and said ‘No challenge’! We then discussed foxes, because that was what seemed to be causing the problem, and I found out that their foxes do not behave in such a greedy fashion as English foxes and so the fox, on his suggestion, become a baboon!!!! This was apparently more of a challenge and he sat back in his chair folded his arms and said ’It can’t be done now with a Baboon!’ I can’t win!!!
On the way to work last Monday Donald and I were talking about our weekends and I said I had made a large cow, it’s half the size of an ordinary cow. He thought I said bought a cow and said ’so now you have large cow in your house’. I tried to reassure him that it was not real but made out of wire and paper. ‘Why you want this cow in your house?’ I tried to explain that it was going to be a money box at a Scottish Ceilidh dance evening so people could put money in it for the Mildmay – HIV/aids charity, but he just kept saying ‘Oh Clayer’, Oh Clayer, I have to see this cow’ you give me headache!’. So after work he came in and saw the cow. He now understands, but I think he thinks I’m mad! He’s not quite sure what to expect sometimes!! But then he is not the only one especially after this week!!!
So you can see life here continues to be fun and different, interspersed with me having a fit of the giggles at inappropriate times, and I keep telling myself to just take the next step and to stop being British!!! because it really doesn’t work here. I only seem to take small steps because I think I have understood something only to find I really don’t have a clue, but I think I also confuse them a lot too with my funny Muzungu ways, but I’ll tell you more about that next week. I hope everyone is well, and I send you all my love as always.