11 July 2007

Aliens and Strangers

It has been another week of reminding me that I am not Ugandan. I know that seems so obvious, but after 18 months I have learned to filter out about 95% of the "mizungu, how are you?" and the heckling of boda boda men. What used to seem so strange (like buying milk on the side of the road and then boiling it at home and praying that no one gets brucellosis or some other tropical ailment from unpasteurized milk) has now become routine.
Monday - 1st try at Kampala errands - boys get haircuts, uneventful aside from Kadin's frantic screaming and yelling that his head is broken; try to return a toy lawnmower I bought for the boys that was broken upon opening, mean Christine had to come out with the store manager who accused me of breaking the toy and trying to return it, finally gave up after 3o minutes for fear of having a heart attack right there in the store; leave boys at the local park with Joseline and pay cell phone bill, have to park three blocks away because there is no parking, heckled by a dozen boda boda men who all offer to marry me and bear black babies with me while walking to the cell phone office, pay cell phone bill, walk back to car and hope there is nothing stolen off of car (last time it was the driver's side mirror); drive to Standard Charter bank to close account because we use our American bank now that does not charge us service fees for just having an account and seems to think we are capable of operating an ATM card, park car four blocks away, heckled by boda boda men offering to marry me and bear me black babies, wait in line at bank, wait in wrong line so have to wait in new right line, customer service manager needs checkbook from account before they can close account, do not have check book, must bring check book before I can be helped, try to be nice Christine, succeed mildly, walk back to car and hope there is nothing stolen off of it; pick up boys from park and go home feeling as if I have just run a marathon and then some.
Tuesday - 2nd attempt at Kampala errands - go to boys' school to pay school fees, forgot copy of Kadin's passport which was no where listed on the required documentation list but apparently is somehow supposed to be known, cannot pay school fees until copy of passport is received; go to DHL office in response to an email about a package that was mailed on May 31st and is unknown what happened to it, park car one block away, security guard tells me I can't park a car there for some unknown reason other than him telling me I can't, walk away leaving security guard yelling after me, the shipping number listed on the email has no reference and seems to missing several numbers, DHL lady very friendly and gives me the office number to call directly should I get the right shipping number, walk back to car, security guard seems to think he deserves money for his job of sitting under a tree and "watching" my car, just drive off; drive to bank to see if I can finally close my account, park four blocks away, get heckled by boda boda men offering to marry me and bear me black babies while walking to the bank office, customer service manager gone where and how long no one seems to know, read both newspapers while waiting for customer service manager, help customer count his deposit and organize it by like bills, wait some more, wait some more, wonder if waiting is a spiritual gift or an exercise in insanity, customer service manager appears and proceeds as if nothing unusual has happened, informs me I can't close my account because the account is only in Jeff's name, tell manager I have signed about a dozen signature cards and still have not been added to account, recommend calling the department that handles signature cards and pull my signature card, wait while they find the number for that department, wait some more for the signature card to be brought down to the branch, get referred to a different customer service manager to complete my account closure, wait 20 minutes while this new person tries to convince me to keep my account open, wait another 30 minutes for them to withdraw the money from my account all the time hearing yet another speal about why I should keep my account and then why I should marry the teller withdrawing the money from my account, finally leave with my money and my account closed, walk back to car and pray nothing has been stolen off the car. Stop for a cup of coffee to help give me the illusion of sanity.
Wednesday - 3rd attempt at Kampala errands - stop at the boys' school this time with Kadin's copy of passport and pay school fees; go to computer shop to get my DVD drive repaired after waiting more than 8 weeks for the part, store not open, do a few errands around computer shop, store still not open, buy newspaper and read newspaper, store still not open, wait some more, wait some more, wait some more, wait until 11:30a (2.5 hours after I arrived initially) store still not open; leave thinking that 50% of my errand goals for the day is really good, but exhausted from the waiting
Thursday - my 4th attempt at Kampala errands - tomorrow I need to return to the DHL office with a correct shipping number to pick up my now abandoned package from May 31st, they have told me it is still at the office, but I am not holding my breath that it is there and that they will be able to find it; try to drop my computer off to get its DVD drive repaired should the store decide that it does want to open for business before noon. I then may need a week vacation just to recover from 4 days of seeming futility at accomplishing what I thought were simple errands


Flo Oakes said...

I read the first couple of paragraphs of this post thinking that Jeff had written it and thinking to myself, "Wow, Ugandan men even hit on American guys? Crazy!"
Anyhoo, I can't imagine doing all that with 2 kiddos. I have a hard enough time with my 2 in America, (without the heckling)!
It seems like I can only get one thing done in a day before I am wiped out and tired of getting tired kids in and out of car seats.
I'll think of you then next time I complain to my husband about having to take my kids to the bank:)

KELLY said...

Sounds like a few typical days in Uganda. I didn't know about your mirror being taken on your car...that's a bit strange. With all the craziness that Uganda brings....I still miss it and you guys!

The Gurneys said...

I also thought at first Jeff was posting. Funny. I just thought I would mention that you are not speaking (typing)in full sentences either which is a phenomenon that seems to occur after being around foreigners so long. You two are incredibly funny and might want to use that wit and experience to write a TIA book.

Anonymous said...

Jeff already has a title for his TIA book - Rumbles from the Jungle: What You Need to Know about your Missionary.

wepukhulu said...

Christine, I could have written the same post 20 years ago! Nothing changes. It won't get better. But God gives you WAY more grace as time goes by. God bless you with Peace as you endure for the sake of the Gospel