Thursday, October 22, 2009

Romantic Thoughts

When you are sitting around on cut tree branches and wooden folding chairs in the middle of an African town, a mixture of locals and ex-pats in a circle; and the sun has just set, it's night, the first stars are peeking out of the deep black sky; and you've pulled your leather jacket tighter around you for warmth; and someone hands you a lit cigarette -- that's when I want to be a smoker, and raise it to my lips, and take a full, deep drag.

But I'm not one.

***

In Kitgum, the people who worked for the big NGOs lived in big houses on top of the hill overlooking the town, with generators and running water, and they never walked through town, and you never saw them, except for glancing peeks as they sped by in the back of big white Land Cruisers.  I thought they were ridiculous.

Now that I am going to work for a big NGO, I'm going to be the one living in the big house, in the rich part of town, with guards, cars, drivers... separate from the hullabaloo and the riffraff... 

Doesn't this make me, like, every single villain ever in a Disney movie?

I'm being too harsh.  But I'm nervous.

3 comments:

Sheree said...

Fall weather makes me want to smoke - and I'm not a smoker either. It just seems like such a cool excuse to stand outside and enjoy the chilly air.

Ben said...

I had the same experience living in Cambodia, in southeast Asia. Most of the foreigners working for NGO's didn't really know or understand the people they were trying to help. But each of us has to make his/her own choice as to the kind of life we'll lead. It sounds like you'll make the right choice. Beautiful descriptions at the beginning by the way.

Rachel said...

Hi Ben! Thank you for your nice comment! :o)

It is constantly difficult, figuring out how to toe the line between being yourself and figuring out local culture -- without being patronizing, just respectful -- it is something that I think if I live a million years I will never get correct. But people, I find, are usually kind -- so when I make gaffes, they laugh & discuss it with me --

I wrote this post a day before I traveled, when I was so nervous -- I'm feeling more confident, again, now, as I have made friends here!