Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Culture shock

A random entry today, the day after a national holiday. Yesterday we celebrated the Prophet’s birthday, later this week we celebrate Easter. The finest thing about Sierra Leone is its religious tolerance. And what better demonstration than this week. Everyone gets a three day week, regardless of their religion!

Last week we had a rare moment of culture, the US graciously sent us a jazz band. Terribly decent of them. We sat in the grounds of Forah Bay College, raised above Freetown. Hawks circled in easy curiosity overhead and the sun sank into the green hills around us. Ah culture. I realised how I missed it only when it was there in front of me. We swayed to the Charlie Porter Quartet. They were seriously good so I’m going to break a rule and not only name-check them, but recommend you look them up if you’re ever in New York. And if you do, tell them I sent you. I got to know Charlie quite well.

Atmospheric as that concert was, it was eclipsed by the journey home. My colleague and I drove out using a route we didn’t know and ended up surrounded by taxis and people in the east end of the city. I got boxed in and was being waved back by a taxi driver when I tapped the car behind. The impact was low, but the Landrover I was in is like a tank and though I thought it was undamaged at the time, it seems I broke the other car’s light. As a man stood alongside shouting at me to pull over, I could hear the swell of noise behind the car as people began to set the world to rights, loudly. Anna was shaking; I was trying not to appear as terrified as I was becoming. It was dark. The road ahead was clear. I looked at Anna, looked ahead, put my foot down and floored it. We ended up lost on the Kissy Road, heading further east. As if in some bad cop drama we did one u-turn and overtake after another to find our bearings and lose the driver of the damaged car (who wasn’t following us). Finally I spotted a slum I once visited, and got us into Ecowas Street and then the main drag. I’ve never been so grateful to see our guards opening the gates of the compound.

On Tuesday last week the driver turned up with the police. Fortunately, Inspector Sesay was a rational, practical man. We emphasised our good reputation and our desire to clear it up quickly. I physically shrank in the chair to demonstrate how small and young I was, and how the dark unknown east had been too much for my sensibilities. The driver was a decent guy who just wanted his car fixed. Inspector Sesay wanted to let us sort it out ourselves. I kept my license. He joked as he left that his call sign was ‘Charlie Mobile’. I laughed hollowly, warming to him mainly for his leniency. The next day the other driver returned with a receipt from the garage and I handed over a brick of cash, about £50. He asked me how work was going, and I him, and it was all very convivial. It could have been a lot worse.

Those of you who know me well will know that the last few months have been tough. That the party seemed lacklustre for me. That I questioned whether I’d really thrive here any more. The dry season has been unusually dark and empty. Last week as grey clouds arrived, signalling the creeping arrival of the rainy season, that darkness lifted. Maybe I’ll be singing in the rain after all…

42 comments:

Philip said...

You write really well Charly. It felt like we were with you, in the back of your car. Oh gosh! Keep writing your blog - we're reading it from afar... love philip xxx

雙魚 said...

Fancy may kill or cure. ....................................................

幸運之神 said...

想像是什麼並不重要,想像能做什麼才重要..................................................

哭泣 said...

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宥軒 said...

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劉承合 said...

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韋于倫成 said...

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韋于倫成 said...

A liar is not believed when he speaks the truth. .........................................

德慈美玉 said...

灰心是動搖的開端,動搖是失敗的近鄰。........................................

ShilaLong嘉雯 said...

幸福不是一切,人還有責任。..................................................

hernande said...

成功是一把梯子,雙手插在口袋裡是爬不上去的。........................................

若愛若愛 said...

愛情不是慈善事業,不能隨便施捨。..................................................................

曉薇 said...

Many a little makes a mickle...................................................................

文群文群 said...

生存乃是不斷地在內心與靈魂交戰;寫作是坐著審判自己。......................................................................

佩春 said...

與人相處不妨多用眼睛說話,多用嘴巴思考,....................................................................

清鴻 said...

當一個人內心能容納兩樣相互衝突的東西,這個人便開始變得有價值了。............................................................

雲亨雲亨雲亨 said...

人有兩眼一舌,是為了觀察倍於說話的緣故。............................................................

原秋原秋 said...

Unable to give you a heart. so have a reply to push up your post.
..................................................................

芸茂芸茂 said...

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吳婷婷 said...

一時的錯誤不算什麼,錯而不改才是一生中永遠且最大的錯誤............................................................

蕙春蕙春 said...

嗨~~留個言跟您問好!!謝謝您的分享............................................................

林柏毅林柏毅 said...

很棒的分享~~~來留個言囉~~~~..................................................................

琬安琬安 said...

找一個懂妳的人也期許自己做一個人懂別人的人~.........................................

淑娟淑娟淑娟 said...

世間事沒有一樣沒有困難,只要有信心去做,至少可以做出一些成績。..................................................

吳淑芬吳淑芬 said...

良言一句三冬暖,惡語傷人六月寒。......................................................................

黃子軒 said...

人生中最好的禮物就是屬於自己的一部份............................................................

劉林育雅嘉韋 said...

所有的資產,在不被諒解時,都成了負債..................................................................

文王廷 said...

THX FOR SHARE!!!感激呀!............................................................

文王廷 said...

More haste, less speed..................................................................

4464 said...

No pains, no gains..................................................................

瑜陳陳陳陳真 said...

卡爾.桑得柏:「除非先有夢,否則一切皆不成。」共勉!.. ...............................................................

怡靜怡靜怡靜怡雯 said...

Poverty tries friends...................................................................

翊翊翊翊張瑜翊翊翊 said...

感謝你的分享 要繼續發表好文章喔..................................................

瑰潼 said...

一個人的價值,應該看他貢獻了什麼,而不是他取得了什麼......................................... ........................

石JaquelynS_Whitesi白 said...

生命的意義,是在於活的充實;而不是在於活得長久。............................. ....................................

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