Archive for August, 2010

Sleepless in Seattle

August 9, 2010

You know, it’s really weird that you get on a plane one night in the poorest country in the world, and in the morning you get vomited out at the other end into Paris’s CDG airport, a monument to consumption.  In just the one terminal I was in there were dozens and dozens of shops, including some very big names, of course, with the big price tags.  It is overwhelming, but I’ve been asking myself a lot lately when I’m in airports, which is not often, but honestly, how much shopping gets done at the airport? A lot, I guess, but airports just seem like shopping malls that happen to supply air flights.  I can understand the need for some things being sold, postcards, sunscreen, batteries, gum, books, food and even I guess duty free is a staple now, but are so many rolexes sold at one airport as to fund a whole shop? And skirts, blouses, jewelery, t-shirts, underwear, children’s toys, and the list goes on, incredibly each deserving their own stores? Is this because so much luggage is getting lost that people making connecting flights are worried they’ll have to spend their holidays only partially clad due to lack of garments and won’t know how to buy clothing in a foreign language?  And these aren’t even stores open to the public- they are accessible to only those in the security zone.  I suppose the shopping mall style of airport has been around for a long time, and I’m guessing it is somehow rooted in the shifting of airports from being public bodies to being increasingly privatized. Or, can it be people are arriving earlier and earlier for flights and have more time to kill? I don’t know, maybe the word bizarre is not right, but I find it really indicative of our consumerist society’s need or desire to shop a lot, or that shopping is a default activity to spend time.  But then again, I had shopping malls already so I don’t really have the most objective perspective on this.

I’m in the Seattle airport and pretty tired, but amazingly, the flight have passed pretty quickly, even the 11.5 hour stretch from Paris to Seattle passed really quickly.


That’s the news and I am outta here

August 8, 2010

So I guess, I’m wrapping things up here, and I leave with mixed feelings, of course. Months ago, amongst the job frustrations and things not going anywhere, it seemed like the time to leave wouldn’t come, and now the time is here and it seems like I just got here yesterday.  ALthough it’s only been a few months, my life here as it is now seems really normal, and I have my habits and ideosyncrasies down to an artform.  It’s amazing how quickly one can adjust (to certain things, anyway.) There are things that remained difficult, like making my way from the taxi stand to work by walking around the Grand marche. Although it’s a cliche, I know I am returning to Canada a different person.  I’m probably less tolerant of priveldge, but also realise that I’m a less patient and charitable person than I thought I was.

All things considered, Niamey is a very laid back city, and I think that ever visiting or living in another developing world city may be really difficult.  My time in Colombo made me far more cautious than you have to be here, not that it’s a completely safe city, but people are not on top of you all the time like there. Men, as well, as not as lets just say… assertive as in Sri Lanka.  Maybe that means I missed out on some things, but it kept me in my comfort zone to the point that I could operate from day to day.

So what will I miss?

One dollar Biere Nigers
50 cent cab rides
The view of the Fleuve at sunset, and the Fleuve in general
My friends, from around the world
The friendliness of people
No ever being cold
Swimming at the hotel pool
The social acceptibility of eating fries at every meal
The social acceptibility of drinking red wine chilled
Colourful fabrics and custom made clothes
Camels, goats and sheep everywhere
Piment- spicy sauces
Trying to speak french and haussa
Having excellent skin

What will I appreciate (lots!)

Having loved ones around
Seat belts
Being able to express myself in English
Not having to stand in line for 1-2 hours to pay bills or get money at the bank
Having an oven
Credit cards
Not having to bargain
Blending into a crowd
Resources in the workplace
Sewer and garbage services
Public libraries
Not having sand in everything
Not sweating my ass off during power outages, and not stading up to find your pants soaked with sweat
Wondering whether every ailment is malaria
My good luck

I also wanted to take this time to thank everyone for their support over the last few months.  Your emails, phone calls, online chats and thumbsups have meant a lot to me and kept my spirits up.  I want to also thank everyone who helped Russ out after his surgery or dog sat for us during my absence. Thank you! Thank you!!!

So that’s it… for now.  Flight home in a few hours… will post later about readjustment!