Saturday, April 07, 2007

Niger vs Sweden

So! The first two weeks in Sweden have passed and the days are just flying away. Life right now seems to be all about trying not to stress (you should see all the posts in my outlook!), drinking too much coffee (who said anything about quitting?), working lots and lots of hours (free time, what is that?), eating chocolate to compensate for I-don't-know-what (what happened to the starvation mode I so genuinely appreciated less than a month ago?), going for as many walks as I can (it's not horseback riding but at least it's physical movement!) and trying to squeeze in personal engagements in between work shifts and other activities. I may have thought that Ishtar was going to last longer, but after a week, the African in me was losing so much ground that I eventually made up my mind to head back a month earlier, which has made me unexplainable happy for a number of days!

The fact is, true transition has been non-existent this year as I keep thinking about Niger all the time. Just the other day, I talked to my entire workplace about Africa and got them all wishing they could head out in the world and contribute as volunteers. I even met a Somali family (my last clients) and we started talking about Africa – no big surprise there. It wasn't until I saw that my colleagues were packing up (the shop had closed by then) that I realised that it was time to move on. Lol! And there I was, thoroughly enjoying myself – after all, it’s not every day that I meet fellow Africa-experts to talk to in this Nordic country!

Now; the Nigerien Ishtar would hardly have put in a second gear, but the Swedish me did move on, knowing there were other people waiting for me to commune back home (and no Hanna, I wasn't late in the end). Just had to say that although yes, work is picking up and my schedule is getting cramped, I'm not so stressed as to forget about Africa and its people and peculiarities that I have so fallen in love with.

When I finally made it home from work, I made three phone calls to Niger. Snowman was genuinely happy to hear my voice again and we talked for quite a while, as the skype connection was good (for some funny reason it actually costs me less to call a mobile phone in Niger than it does to call a mobile phone in Sweden). He accused me of foul-play (for not being there), said they all missed me, that the race track had lost its charm, and that he was pulling back until I returned.
"Oh," I said cheerfully, referring to the who's-whos and all the who's-who's-wannebees of Zinder that I don’t exactly admire. "Are the others suffering of low spirits right now?"
”Aaargh, they are disastrous!” he replied, mentioning some of the Goldman's people whose conduct he did not appreciate. I told him I was looking forward to stirring things up when I returned again. We both agreed however that six months was a long time to wait, and although I tried to sooth him saying that it was in fact only five months and three weeks left, he did not bye into my cheerfulness...

An hour later, I called Yaronbaba (my jockey, in case anyone has forgotten!) who was at the race track with one of my mares. I called just to hear how things were going, and thought that the timing was great since Ali was there too. Surprisingly, it was actually easier to communicate with Yaronbaba (who is used to phone conversations) in Hausa that with Ali (who does not know who to communicate by phone!) in French. In other words, my Hausa level is rising and this in turn has inspired me to pick up my Hausa books and keep it alive (and flourishing!) during the time that I am away. What better way to surprise Yaronbaba that to return fully fortified with a complete sense of Hausa grammar structure??? Especially when one just looooves surprises!

OK, got to dash! (Just watched Briget's Jones Diary again the other night...) Work awaits me tomorrow morning, but on Monday (!) I hope to have a moment to spare!



hanna grönberg said...

Sounds like you keep yourself busy, no surprise there... :)

praveen said...

Good comparison!!! A first hand experience, keep writing!!!

Best wishes

Ishtar said...

Praveen: Glad you enjoyed it! I'll let you know when I get back to Niger and have less stressful things to write about... :-)

Hanna: What? You mean you anticipated that I would start my first month in Sweden working 187h + all the pro bono stuff...? Naaah... :-)

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Jennifer & Björn said...

Hej Esther!! Välkommen till Sverige igen! :o) Det var verkligen ett tag sedan vi hördes av. Vi kommer snart ner till halland...så förhoppningsvis kanske vi kunde hinna ses en liten stund?! Ha en skön helg! Kramar!!

Hanna P-G said...

Jag längtar till våra lunchar/fikastunder/filmkvällar i sommar!!!

Ishtar said...

Och ännu bättre Hanna, till den dagen du sitter och filosoferar med mig på min veranda i Niger, omringad av 10% av alla djuren som en gång gick i Noas ark... :-)

hanna grönberg said...

Sp länge du inte filosoferar om hästar och hundar kan jag se fram emot det!

Ishtar said...

Jag filosoferar inte om djur.
Jag läser bara beteenden...