Sunday, March 31, 2013

My dose of Kinshasa

Got my full dose today, starting with being picked up a 7 am for a round at the ministries. Before you have a workshop in Kinshasa you have to have approval from the minister, which means going to his office, sitting there for a few hours while he comes and goes, and then finally being invited to talk to him, and he shows you some pleather chairs with a grand gesture, quickly obscuring the game of solitaire from his computer monitor. And then, this won't actually be the minister, this will be the acting deputy minister, because the real minister is always away. Then, after the meeting, he'll ask you to put everything you said into an email, and send it to him, and then call him, to ask him if he received it. 
You don't know how many calls I get a day just to ask, did you get my message? and ill say, when did you send it? And they'll say right now! And I'll say, are you sure? And they'll say oh wait Ok now, I just sent it now. And my email has been backed up for days because someone sent me some photos so you can pretty much forget it that i'll see it before the end of the day.
Then I saw my girl Carla, to whom I sent my measurements a week before to get some real African style dresses made. Carla's dresses are works of art. Ripples and ruffles and complex doubling and amazing. Nothing compared to the lady before. Wow. Real deal. Fit perfectly (though the skirts are a bit ample in the butt area). I wore the top part it's like 5 layers of cloth, and lined, I don't know how these people do it so hot! and tight! when I finally left the office to go home. No patience to try and call and wait for a cab, it was still day time so I thought I would press my luck on the boulevard and get into one of those group taxis. 
I've heard of this hand motion game where you wave your hand in the direction you want to go and the taxi man that will take you makes a "that direction?" sign and you motion "yeah, that way" and he does a "it is agreed" signal. So I'm doing my wave thing and this busted up corolla with wobbly wheels and 11 guys in the back slows down and the driver is all, that way? And then I don't know I'm shaking my hand but I don't really know how to do it so I go thumbs up? And he's all what? And he shoos me away in digust like i was bring vulgar, but then the guys in the back are all no! No! She wants to go the same way! Pick her up! Pick her up! so they all schooch and I get in with all my bags of clothes and they are just so excited! They all want to pay for me, which is ridiculous, because not a single one has a full set of teeth, I should be paying for them, buuuut I don't really want to set a precedent, do i? So they are all introducing themselves, asking for my phone number, am I married, the whole deal. 
Every so often we stop and a bunch of people get out and I keep on trying to position myself towards the door, because it's hot and these guys are pretty stinky, but more people get in and push me over. so I'm scooching, back and forth because some people come in from the other side, and the driver, well he's got an English car so people get out to ride shotgun and its like a constant Chinese fire drill. And I just end up in the middle again. have you seen this mr. Bean episode? because i lived in. anyway when we get to my stop the open the doors on both sides, the sidewalk side and the scary traffic side, and it could have been a scene from Cinderella, the way two men gently took my hands and even put a plastic bag down over a puddle so I wouldn't have to step in it. Adorable. 

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