…it’s almost September. Where did the last ten years go?
“The very last house stood all by itself under a dark green wall of fir-trees, and here the wild country really began. Snufkin walked faster and faster straight into the forest. Then the door of the last house opened a chink and a very old voice cried: ‘Where are you off to?’ ‘I don’t know,’ Snufkin replied.”
From the moomins about the need to not always know where one is going. From this splendid list of fifty things the moomins taught us about the world.
Today was powerless. And by powerless I don’t mean as in the kind of power you can have over other individuals or over structural issues, but lacking of actual power–the electric currency that animates my life. Without it my entire existence is almost rendered useless. I know that might be seen as a tragic reality of our post-modern and perhaps post-natural society but seriously, how do I go about my day if I can’t use the internet, charge my laptop or my phone? Or even turn the light switch on? (I know, I have a flashlight, but still. And my flashlight wont help the fact that my food slowly spoils in the useless fridge).
Luckily for me I know that the power will be turned back on soon again, so I just wait. And wait. Today I waited for seven hours. Last time I waited for two. It’s strange that the power fails almost on cue when I have something important to do online. And it is strange that I’ve been able to accumulate such an addiction to electricity without even realizing it. But it’s even more strange how quickly I get used to the waiting. Ten or twenty minutes there, an hour one day, five the next. That the lacking of power, even though annoying, reminds me that there are other things, non-electrical, that I can enjoy. So I lay down on the balcony and read a book. And I make pancakes to use up my milk so it doesn’t spoil and I make up the recipe as I go along because I only remember bits and pieces of it. And I become adventurous and explore a new matatu-route and go to the market and buy fruits. It’s like the everyday power-shortages have become small breaks in my electronic and automated life of thesis-writing.
A small addition. The black “muzungo”–that’s ME: I’ve been black all my life. At least brown. Here I’m a “muzungu”, I’m considered white. So unexpected. So I guess in Kenya now, I’ll be the black, “white person.”
My swahili, or kiswahili is getting better. Especially now that I’ve got to practice all day with a bunch of amazing kids in Kibera. Today was the first day I got to experience another reality here in Kenya. No armed guards or running water. Sophie, the director of 5 C Human Rights Theater group very kindly invited me to her home and let me hang out with her family and friends all day. She met me at a mall close by my house and then we took a matatau, a small minibus, to her house. Now I’m her adopted Swedish daughter and she’s going to teach me some genuine Kenyan cooking and take care of me whilst I’m here. The older kids taught me how to count in Swahili and I taught them how to count in Swedish. And Sophie also told me to stop being a baby about the matataus (apparently they drive like crazy and are quite crowded and a haven for pick-pockets, so I still need to keep my guard up though) and just go ahead and take them. Something that will save me around 570 KSH a day. The taxi to her house is 600 KSH and the matataus are only 30 KSH combined.
Besides hanging out and taking about life, eating really good food and messing around with the three youngest ones Sophie also told me a lot about what she does, what’s she’s passionate about and what some of the struggles women in Kenya face on a day to day basis. We also of course got to talk a lot about Kibera, and since she lives in the highest building in Kibera she showed me the view from the rooftop. We also walked around in the local market where food is like three times cheaper than in the supermarket I’ve been to. It’s so strange to imagine that Kibera, one of Africas largest and most crowded informal settlements is so very close to where I’m sitting now, I’m my very comfortable and spacious living room–we are three people on four bedrooms and a large living-room. It’s only about 15 minutes by car. But in these two worlds the reality of everyday life is so different. Tomorrow I’m heading back to Sophie’s and staying until Sunday. Mama Reina (that’s what the children calls Sophie since her youngest daughter is named Reina) has fixed me my own bed in the same room as Patty and Ryan and since it’s weekend tomorrow I’m hoping on meeting more people who can share an insight into their everyday life. Also. I’m brining my camera tomorrow so hopefully I’ll get some great pictures!
I started the year dancing in Malmö then left for Saduiqqi and politics in Saudi with karaoke detours to Lebanon, discovering political Islam in Kuwait and the Nabatean culture in Jordan. Returned to Sweden and spent the summer nights dancing with great friends at Torrowland in Boom, Belgium and Q-base in Weeze, Germany. Fled the Swedish winter and returned to Saudi for mediation and rejuvenation before landing back in a snowy Sweden—adventuring back and forth to Stockholm, escaping for a night of dance and decadence to Qlimax in Holland and heading further north into Härnösand. The year finally ends back home with Ingela, preparing for departure to Kenya in 8 days.
2012 has been amazing. I’m ready for 2013.
Spent a night in Germany hunting for trolls, the eternal companion A. by my side. Giant trolls, skinny trolls, grim trolls and baby trolls. I still sometime find myself dumbfound over the adventures we tend to stumble over. It’s such an amazing thing to have someone just as crazy, spontaneous and wild as you are to wonder around life with. We have had, give or take, around 6 345 days of adventures so far, the 50 I will spend in Riyadh without, you, my better half is nothing compared to that.
“I stand on the corner and just greet people and let them know that life is sweet. Life is beautiful. No matter what happens in life it’s always sweet to be alive. Enjoy the sunshine, the flowers and the birds–be happy.”
It’s 2.50 at night and I have to get up and go to work in 4 hours. But I don’t care. Life here is so surreal. I don’t even know where to begin and describe it. Spent the weekend in DQ which was nice, went to Steak-night at the US embassy and then an after party during Wednesday and then headed to a Marine event on Thursday.
However, none if it is even comparable with what happened today. First I hiked along the outskirts of DQ before heading to the “magilist” a forum where some of the most prominent members of society gathers and reflect upon different topics. Today the islamization of psychology.
Afterwards we headed out to a farm in the desert outside Riyadh where they slaughtered a sheep in the honor of T’s birthday and then cooked it in the ground for 1,5 hrs. It was the freshest meat I’ve ever tasted. And the only thing difficult with a midnight feast was the fact that your almost not allowed to stop eating. Which was fine though since it was absolutely amazing.
Driving home in the Riyadh night we, four women and one guy, all off a sudden saw hundreds of cars parked along the highway, blocking off a huge part of the road. At first we though it was an accident, but then we saw that there were hundreds of people standing on the divider in the middle of the road watching the other side of the highway. We stopped and climbed out, and found ourselves being the only four women amidst hundreds of young saudi boys watching cars drift by. INSANE. The sound the cars made as they swirled down the sandy roads, the cheering of the crowd closing in on us shouting about how crazy the saudi men are, like being in the midst of a wolfpack, watching the wolf snarl and show it’s teeth. The adrenaline was amazing, an incredible rush. Five minutes pass and two cars drift by, our hearts beating like drums, before the crowd (after taking countless pictures of the spectacle we provided) let us back in the car. After surrounding the car for several minutes they finally let us drive of. A Land Rover follow us, the young men showing of their best tricks hanging out the car, playing with death. Apparently 17 people die every day in traffic, according to official statistics. But who really knows? Soon the boy loose their interest and speed off. We are left in a state of bizarre chock. Like the one hours before when the man dressed in white slits the sheep’s throat and the blood sprays everywhere and then the head is thrown on the ground. We drive towards home only to be slowed down by the passing of a massive convoy of police-cars escorting some prince or princess somewhere. Finally we make it home. I stumble back inside. This life. The intensity. Oh. Riyadh!
So many great songs seem to revolve about this expression! Apparently it’s supposed to mean problem. But my mind is filled with nothing but simplicity and joy. There is something absolutely magical about dancing around a small living room in Riyadh, listening to African music, just finished reading a chapter on Salafism in Yemen, and trying to figure out were in the world to go next. As tradition the summer will be spent in Sweden. But then who knows? Had a quick conversation with mama on Skype about the endless possibilities in life. On another note this weekend turned our to be another great weekend in the Kingdom. Went on a quick trip “around the world” last Thursday and spent the night in France before heading to Denmark for a kvasi-afterparty and then falling asleep back home in Sweden. Sleep is something that I’ll soon find myself lacking here. But who can complain about the intensity of life?