Sunday, August 30, 2015

Attending to Omnipresent Attention

At the end of a poorly maintained tarmac road, crossing a wooden bridge that cracks a bit too loudly every time a motor vehicle drives over it, and then going up a dirt hill...a journey to a remote populated corner of the larger Iringa district brings one to, well, something a bit different.  On the top of the hill is a massive brick cathedral, reminiscent of southern Europe, surrounded by a slew of carefully crafted buildings that also would not feel out of place on the northern continent.  Still, the little area established by Italian missionaries see few visitors, perhaps increasing the level of curiosity showered upon a foreigner.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The White Elephants on Top of Red Dirt

Being the nation's young capital city, Dodoma is becoming a small city with a big political heart.  Extending beyond the obvious presence of political buildings such as grand headquarters of the national parliament and its ruling party, the power of "political money" is starting to permeate every aspect of an otherwise plain and dusty population center of 150,000 people.  Just by looking at its surprisingly orderly cityscape, travelers can comprehend the enormous efforts politicians place in sprucing up the capital so that it is fitting for what they consider East Africa's most potential-filled nation.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

A "Words of Mouth" Expat Community

Alongside the smooth tarmacked main roads leading southwest of Iringa, there are countless numbers of dirt roads leading into what seem like middle of nowhere.  From faraway they are seem quite similar: a few thatched, dirt-walled houses surrounded by small-holding farms and patches of temperate forests covering the more remote parts of the region's characteristic hilly terrain.  Each generally had either no sign or small signs that are entirely unnoticeable to vehicles passing through at high speeds on the main road.  The only exception to these were shops that occasionally placed themselves at these makeshift traffic turnoffs.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Cultual Roots of "Simple Fun"

For a small town where locals do not seem to make much money, Iringa is surprisingly not devoid of nightlife spots.  Blaring into the town's dark main streets without proper street lighting on Friday nights are sounds of American hip-hop mixed in with distinctive local Tanzanian pop music.  Once one walks in, the joyfully dancing local live bands and DJs are joined on the dance floor by crowds of both locals and expats (usually of the white American or European kind), grooving to tunes that are often not found in Western clubs dominated by electronic or house music.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

A University Graduate Living on Four Dollars a Day and a Prostitute Making 100 USD an Hour

Back in town at Iringa, the town that graciously hosted the author for the previous interview trip from a month ago, there was a job advertisement on one of the lamppost on the main street leading to the bustling central market.  A renowned international organization was hiring local stuff to do market research and data analyses to help determine the best strategies to gain access to target markets.  In its brief description, the high expectations for the job is clear.  To get the job done, computer and critical thinking skills, a rarity in this mostly farming community, are obviously essential.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

令人悲哀的古跡商業化

上海安遠路玉佛禪寺。一個經歷幾個世紀風雨,度過多次毀而修、修而毀的古刹,今日已不見當年的輝煌。雖然内部佛像依舊完整、傲氣逼人,但其地址已是在一個再普通不過的住宅區内。若不是地圖的標記和路人的指點,著者也不會從一個再平常不過的一個地鐵站走多少個街區將其尋出。不過找到時的興奮還是有的。在一個一棟又一棟、參差不齊但外貌相同的住宅樓叢林中,一個古典木製寺院顯得異常突出,并給一個普通的街區帶來莫名的歷史感。