Monday, August 3, 2009

immigration laws, clingy beetles and thangs...

this is the fourth time i have sat down to write.
and words just escape me....honestly. this time i am going to splurdge. is that a wordge?
i used to have so much to tell you about life in the little wind battered pink house on the hill. . .
these days it's all well, murky. non-descript. the usual suspects.

someone died at the bottom of the hill. the old man in the second house on the corner. you would always see him drunk as a lord on any day of the week. he fell under his tractor. and that was that. his funeral was on sunday. i didn't attend. i didn't know him. he left a wife and two children and not much else. desperate times.

i have been keeping busy by:

1. ignoring the tsunami amount of school work i should be preparing. although i have been persuing ngugi wa thiongo's book "Decolonising The Mind". to help prepare myself for my course i shall be teaching. all very heavy. this was the last book he wrote in english - which he calls the imperialist language. the rest of his books he wrote in gikuyu (and it IS with a "g" because mr wa thiongo writes it with a "g") , his native tongue. he writes that during the colonial times, people were dislocated from their language, which means that they were dislocated from their culture. . .and they were. and still are.
when he started school he learnt in gikuyu. when the colonial bastards took over, everyone was forced to learn in english. gikuyu was banned. in the morning one child was given a button. if she/he heard anyone speaking any kenyan language apart from english, the button was passed on. at the end of the day whoever held the button had to say who he received the button from until all rule breakers were discovered. and then received lashings from the cane or some other form of brutal corporal punishment. they were taught to witch hunt amongst themselves and to dismiss their language as a thing of the past, as a lesser language, as a "wrong" language. that's where i'm up to. oh and a lot about empowering the peasants along very passe marxist lines. but the thing is, you can't dismiss what the man professes. it's all spot on true. and his words are unwaveringly elegant and erudite. i just wish that pure marxism would evolve into something more applicable and workable. i am trying my best at learning swahili although i suspect we should all be learning mandarin. sod english, eh?

2. riding horses. across mr popadopalis's flower farm - which hasn't been as prolific this year because of the hideous lack of rain. usually its like you've been dropped into a painter's palette. splodges of colour as far as you can see. not this year. in fact the view from the hill is bleak. dry and crisp and yellow turning brown. we are starting to buy water for the hill now because the tanks are empty. depressing. so i won't dwell here. no no.

3. making coffee wood fires in the hearth - because it has been bliksom cold in the evenings. i love spending my evenings here. a bottle of jamesons within arms reach, a good movie, my lap top for in between movies, a pile of beautiful coffee wood, burning themselves into animal shapes, twisted and magical, and the wind blowing outside, with a star smudged sky. yeah. it's cosy and a highlight of my day. i never feel alone on these nights. i only feel alone when i have to go to bed. when i walk through the very quiet house, switching off all the lights, listening to the wind rattling the tin roof, and hearing my steps on the creaky stairway up to my loft bedroom. i jump into bed, switch the lamp off and feel incredibly lucky when i see the half moon perfectly postioned in the little attic window. true and lonely.

4. penning new songs. ok. truth be told. i have penned 2 new songs. but that's enough for now. i officially have enough for a new album. i now need to play play play.....let them all settle...hear them in my sleep. i am not playing enough. and i also worry about the one song being played entirely in D major and variations thereof......? is that possible? isn't it too mundane? oh well. there it is. "...i know it's completely crazy / i know it's ridiculously wild, child / i know if wishes were horses / i know beggars would ride / but still / ooooooo..."

5. raising children. god and they are In My Face. i know all the older people shake their heads, smile slowly and sagely advise," oh you'll miss them when they're gone. enjoy them while they're around." and i know they're right...but every 5 seconds its ma this and ma that or a full blown fight. boarding school has been mentioned with alarming regularity. i pleaded with third and last born, "darling, can you just stop being so clingy?" as i disentangled myself from her sticky, candy smelling embrace. she held my face in both her little fat hands, stared into my eyes and said, "oh mummy, i can't help being like a clingy beetle because i love you sooooooooooooo much." what's a girl's heart to do? melt melt can be my clingy beetle any day. my heart bursts to have its own clingy beetle.

6. worrying about my parents. well, my dad and my step mother. they are in a terrible pickle. and need help. i might very well have to fly down and see them. nothing to do with relationship but everything to do with bad business decisions. enough said. i find it all scary and overwhelming. but unavoidable. oooergh. yes. "lets face the music and dance."

7. being persistantly perplexed and disillusioned with the tanzanian government. it has increased all work permit fees by about 100% or more. a work permit used to cost US$ 1500 every two years. it has now been raised to US$ 3050. all dependants on work permits, of which we have three, have to pay US$ 500 each to be here. all non-citizens have to pay through their noses to live and work here. but if you're a peasant (no definition here) you only have to pay US$ 50 every year. i want to know how i can be a foreign zambian peasant. all ideas welcome. should i start dressing like a medieval milk maid? and on top of this, all foreigners have to pay a special tax to be here which is 6% of your salary - thats over and above all your regular taxes. just because you aren't tanzanian. wouldn't it make you feel you aren't wanted? wouldn't this all make you feel that you should really just leave? i don't know. either i must become a foreign peasant or find sunnier shores to wile away my time. a place you can feel welcome and a part of... not always being stung by ridiculous amounts of money just to live somewhere. sometimes i hate being a white african. a muzungu. constantly paying for the sins of our fathers. i'm just saying....

there ain't much i can do about it. but there is only so much you can take.

other than that, things are perky as ever up on the hill. same same sugar same.

catch me if you can....

Kitchen Board: Monday Morning: 3 August 2009

the board was bland and empty so vero and eliza and "clingy beetle" filled the space with light, laughter and colour instead. shopping was blitzed this morning. phew.

so toooodely ole toodle then, oh bestest beloveds..bisous X.X.X. tender crispy winter ones, x j.


Reya Mellicker said...

Things are supposed to shift after the THIRD ECLIPSE IN A ROW, coming up this week on the 5th, maybe on the 6th where you are. My mind can not wrap itself around the concept of all the time zones. I get jet lag when I try.

I think you're feeling that idling-in-neutral-between-the-eclipses sensation. Bored and antsy? I know I am.

I love the image of the coffee wood fires, and all the words you've used that include "dge".

Wish I could doDGE this eclipse season, but ... it'll all be over soon.

Love to you.

tam said...

Hmmm. I've been in too much of a mental tangle to blog. these eclipses are ripping scabs off verry old wounds. ones that i thought were pure stable scar tissue and instead I find buckets of superating stuff ala murphy's knee. Weird. I am feeling off layer after layer at a scary pace. some days i feel soooo elated to have shed old shite, other days i'm raw naked, balancing on top of a scary precipice. i'm just saying....
i think decolonising the mind is still an awesome, relevant book, obligatory reading for african mzungus, along with fanon. I've been reading a wild and sensible book by a maori woman, called decolonising methodologies. oh its good.
sheesh, this is a long comment.

karen said...

Wow, Janelle - what a lot of things going on there! I can't believe the work permit system over there, and I thought Botswana was bad...and I can truly relate to the sometimes hopeless feeling we have of being white Africans. Hope the parental problems can be overcome soon. At least you have those coffee wood fires, and the clingy beetles! Sending you some solidarity from further south x

Tessa said...

Know what, Janelle, when you have finished reading Ngugi's fascinating and angry tome, you should maybe read Keith Richburg's Out of America. There is a connection - tenuous, but still a connection. But, hey, could just be me reading stuff into things...dunno.

fush and chips said...

Cold nights. Stuff and nonsense! I just googled Arusha weather, and your min temp's 13 degrees for this week. Loookshoory!

Love to the clingy beetle.

Janelle said...

ooooooooh thanks reya! yeah a little bored and teeny weeny bit antsy..nothing a run or a kick box class can't fix though! xx j

pole tam..HATE that when old scabs rip...ow ow ow. yeah. mr wa thiongo is completely relevant. indeed. lots love darlin' xxx j

thanks tessa! will def try and get my hands on your suggested reading..thanks! x j

ayayayaya T..! don't ya know the weather man LIES?? like my computer timer?? jeez. xx j

Wil Robinson said...

India doesn't charge foreigners (at least not officially...bribes are another story).

I think Tanzania is worse than some other countries - I mentioned to you the extremely high tourist visa fees for Tanzania compared to neighboring countries. I think there is a move in the government to squeeze any foreigner for as much as possible - whether it's to the long-term detriment to the country or not (i.e., Zimbabwe).

lin said...

couldn't agree more.

Janelle said...

too true wil....god its exhausting.x
thanks for swinging by lin..will take a look at suggested web site. thanks! x j

Nancy said...

Wow, you have more going on then most. I had no idea the tax system was so punitive. Although our country has a similar progressive tax system. The more you work, the more you pay.

The water situation is certainly a worry. Hope you get moisture soon, and lots of it.

Love your clingy little beetle. I've been watching my grandson with my daughter this week. He's a clingy little beetle, and I can't help remembering his mother being the beetle. It seems the years dragged until they were out of grammar school, and then they took on warp speed. Once their friends are their main priority, it all goes very fast.

Hope your parent's programs are not too bad. We have tons of stories here of people being wiped out by greedy businesspeople who were trusted.

family affairs said...

I'm back - having absorbed a little bit of African soil and feel strangely calm - can't believe I was on your turf and just finished reading Vic's book in which you feature widly - I even know what Tam's comment about "Murphy's knee" means!!

Sorry to read about parents/stuff. I hate that role reversal thing we all start having to do. Just go though and see them. You'll feel better.


ps you're right about Mandarin - they've even taken over Lusaka!!

Elise said...

Hello, just wanted to leave a comment to say how much I've enjoyed reading some of your posts. Your pictures are amazing and your blog is really cool. Thank you for sharing them ! said...

'constantly paying for the sins of our fathers' and theirs and thiers. how true x