Friday, 2 September 2011

Sisemi kiswahili (I don't speak Swahili )

27th/28th August: Our attempts to learn Swahili are amusing the locals greatly especially as 90% of the time all we say in return to their questions is sielewi (I don't understand) or Sisemi kiswahili and our pronunciation tends to completely crack them up. A group of women came into our lodgings to talk to one of the ladies who lives here and they chatted to us in a mix of English, Swahili (thank you lonely planet phrase book!)and simple body language, slow but effective! We learnt that one (though possibly they all were) of the group was a student nurse and when she left she invited us to come visit her at her hostel. Tanzanians all seem very welcoming!

I think our culture fascinates them as much as theirs does us and the lady who lives in the hostel (I think she is a housekeeper but I'm not sure) has picked up both of our bags and looked through our things, currently she is looking through my housemates camera and asking where all the photos were taken. She looked through our wardrobe earlier and was fascinated when she found our boxes of tampons, I guess that they are not very common in Tanzania. She didn't understand how they worked so we tried to explain to her - very amusing explanation considering there was no common language. At first she didn't seem convinced by them but she was very pleased when we gave her some after explaining, I just hope our explanation was sufficient that if she uses them she uses them right.

Later we went with her to fetch more water, she had a much larger bucket than AJ and me but lifted it onto her head easily and indicated we do the same... I couldn't even lift it up to my head! A man waiting to use the hose lifted it up for me but within 5 seconds it had already wobbled precariously multiple time so he quickly lifted it down again! Maybe I will practice with smaller lighter objects and work my way up!

Saturday dinner was really yummy potatoes and dubious looking meat that after looking at for some time we decided might be bowel (AJ claimed she could see the haustrations, what a medic geek!). AJ wimped out of trying but I gave it a go. Tasted nice enough from the sauce but really weird texture - slimy, ridiculously chewy and had occasional crunchy bits; I didn't go back for seconds!

This morning we have been left on our own in the house while the others living here went to church. Feel a bit awkward because I'm not sure if we were expected to go with them, they didn't ask us to but maybe they would have appreciated it if we offered to come, but on the other hand maybe they would have found it offensive as they have already asked AJ and me what our religion was and we said agnostic/ brought up Christian. Will have to ask one of the doctors what we should do next Sunday.

We went down to the village market and bought some food for tomorrow as we are cooking for ourselves from then, very limited selection of food available in the village: we brought potatoes, onions, bananas and tomatoes and that was literally the only food available so bananas for breakfast and some kind of stew for dinner it is! We also bought some soap and washed our clothes in a tub, Tanzanian style. At the moment this is all quite a novelty and so weirdly fun but maybe in 8 weeks time we will be longing for varied food and a washing machine!

Spent quite a bit of the day revising medicine ready for tomorrow, and with no real distractions here it wasn't hard to find the motivation to do so. Made me think how much more studious I would probably be without internet and TV!

This evening we tried to teach the man who also lives here (there is 1 young woman and 1 young man plus an older woman. We are not sure if they are a family as the younger two call the older woman mother, but sister and mother are also used in Tanzania as generic terms of endearment) to play the card came: slam. This was very difficult without common language but he mostly understood in the end. Later they invited us to watch films with them, we were pleased to be invited but ended up watching 3 very low budget and old American zombie films in a row because we didn't know if it would be seen as rude if we went and did something else after the first film finished! Still its all part of the experience and we got to try and practice some more Swahili :).

Early night now so awake for first day in hospital tomorrow - I'm so excited but also a bit scared!

Halfadoc x

No comments:

Post a Comment