Thursday, March 8, 2012

office space

so we are in our third government office space since the project started, because we are in a land rife with office space politics. because when you want an office, first you have to paint it, disinfect it, tile the floors, bring the bathrooms to an 18th century standard (the smell prevented me from getting close enough to the troph out back), kill lots of insects, install lots of air conditioners, electricity, a generator, and the final touch: internet.
and we've found that once there is internet, a higher government guy up will show up, come in and shake everyone's hand and congratulate you on your new setup, take a peek into the nice bathroom and then a week later you get an eviction notice, that the office of technical assistant to the partner of the associate of the mining minister or something is now taking over the office and you have to find a new one.
and so we are not only fixing up the national park system, we are nicely renovating offices all over kinshasa. 
most of our old items have made it the new space...except for the espresso machine. you see, a george cluny nespresso machine is as much a status symbol as a land rover. when you go to some high powered government guy's office the first thing he'll show you is the nespresso machine, and he'll say "oh, i'm out of those little capsule thingies, my secretary just went out to get them..." and, well, everyone knows that even if it had a power cord, you can't find any of those capsule thingies anywhere in kinshasa. you have to get someone to bring them to you from europe. and if you know someone in europe well enough so that when they come here they personally bring you nespresso capsules, well then you are obviously well connected.
another thing that happens when you go into a new office space is the little power struggle, you have to figure out whose turf you're on, and who to be nice to to in order to not find banana peels on your car, or who won't steal all your toilet paper and mouse pads and stuff.
in our case, we have the power, as we have the one and only key to the secret women's bathroom. people come to us.
meanwhile, the men's bathroom has been clearly labeled:

this here is da man's room!
so, as soon as the new people move in, the other people from the offices come and try and position themselves in the best way possible and shuffle for authority (which also puts them potentially in a position of getting a bonus..). so this morning a guy in a suit showed up and tried to tell us that he was the boss of the building, that we had to inform him of all his movements and we're like, but we talked to so and so, and so and so, so who are you? and he kept being really vague, and we finally asked a reputable source and well, it turns out he was the gardener, just wearing a suit. clever move, mr. jardinier...
p.s. this is the garden

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