(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anonymity

One thing that occurs to me every time I leave Africa is the sensation of anonymity. There's a certain amount of bliss in being able to leave your house without people staring at you or at least observing you at great length. Now I know that this happens all over the world. You have black people moving into white neighborhoods. White people moving into black neighborhoods. Arabs moving into non-Arab neighborhoods. Etc. It's uncomfortable. Even when people don't do it with any negative intent or possibly don't even realize the extent to which they are doing it, it's still annoying. At least for me.

I had hoped that things might be better in Burundi than in Tanzania but it's not the case. Foreigners and Burundians seem to mix quite well when you are in a restaurant or a car. People seem pleasantly indifferent to you. However walking or jogging is usually a stare-fest. Even the guards of the housing compounds spend quite a bit of time staring as well even though they see you all the time. It's not necessarily rude; just annoying.

So arriving in NY was a change. It's probably the most difficult place in the world to be the object of someone's attention. People rarely even make eye contact let alone stare. Plus you have so much craziness going on in the city that you need to be really bizarre to get any attention. It's so easy to just disappear into the mass and no one could care less. Bliss.

So I'm back to the grind in Burundi. It's been a whirlwind of activity since my return and it's not going to lighten up until at least the holidays. It's ok though since we've moved into a house finally and I'm enjoying the work, the learning and the team. I still have tons to learn but I'm getting a better handle on things. I'm off to Makamba (in the south) tomorrow and then Gitega (in the centre of the country) on Thursday. Then back to Bujumbura on Friday and then I fly to Kigali next week. It wouldn't be so bad if all the travel didn't prevent me from getting the other stuff done. Oh well. Bring it on.

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