(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.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Event Full

It's Wednesday as I'm writing this. I won't have a chance to post it for a while but I have a chance to write and I'm taking advantage of it. I'm attending an event similar to ones I've attended by the dozens. This one is a bit more upscale given that the 1st VP and several other important people are here (and all were on time, something that would never happen in TZ).

There are lots of cameras flashing here and there, capturing the faces of all the heads of organizations and notable guests. In fact, as I'm penning this a camera is an uncomfortable one meter from my face (NB: apparently that was on the news that night).

I find it interesting here that with all the attention to detail for some things given the high-level crowd, there are some other fun quirks that apparently jump out at me more than others. For example, considerable attention is given to seating protocols and the entrance and exit of the VP are very well organized. As he takes his place at the "high table" however, he's sitting directly below a large, framed picture of the president which is ajar, partially leaning up next to a mounted air conditioner. I'm probably the only one here who notices such things. I was in a waiting area at UNHCR with our organization's president a couple months ago and each of us noted that a framed poster on the wall next to us was ajar. I made a comment and he said he'd already noticed it, in fact he couldn't take it anymore and went over and fixed it. I probably would have but you never know how people are going to interpret your OCD. Now I know I'm safe with the big guy.

Now there's a slide presentation. Pretty well done. However yet another faux pas, at least in my opinion. The VP and the entire head table all had to get up and move around to a place where they could see the presentation. A corner-mounted screen would have avoided such an unnecessary move. Not a big deal for lower level events but shouldn't happen for this. So sayeth me.

An entertainer has been performing He's in traditional attire and he's doing his thing in Kirundi. He's apparently very good (and funny) though most of the people in my section of the room (heads of NGOs) are non-Kirundi speakers. Too bad. He seems to be a hit with the Burundians. He's just finished and he's launching into a sort of shriek. It's a tradition here. I don't claim to fully understand it but basically it's a sound that is then echoed by the crowd. Then the initiator does it again but generally a bit longer and with a different intonation. In my experience this goes on no more than two or three times and the last one is usually a drawn out shriek that of course provokes giggles. That's funny in and of itself – the fact that this tradition has been going on since before these people were born yet the drawn out shriek always provokes some laughter.

Probably the most amazing aspect of this event (which is now about to draw to a close), is that everything has been on time. Almost exactly. Very impressive in my book. Now, I am off to prepare for the upcoming visit to our projects tomorrow by the US and Belgian Ambassadors and the guest of honor, the Belgian Foreign Minister.


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