Saturday, October 31, 2015

When the Rain Brings the Agricultural New Year

For someone that has lived for years in the tropics, the coming of the monsoon has become more of a signature for passing times than change of seasons.  And just as past years, the author getting his "start-of-rainy-season" diarrhea and fever (quite literally) as the first rains of the monsoon land in Iringa.  Even as he holds his stomach in pain on the bed for much of the day, he cannot forget the romanticism that he has come to witness every time this year as he retraces the memories of the first rains in tropical Southeast Asia.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Memories of Past Disunity as Precondition for Present Unity

Over the past few years, some international media outlets are starting to label Rwanda as "the Singapore of Africa."  On the surface, the idea is ridiculous.  The international commercial and financial depot that is Singapore is at least 60 times as wealthy as Rwanda in terms of per capita income, and the two economies share little in terms of economic structure and development history.  Rwanda's landlocked nature, and the fact that it is surrounded by neighbors with dismal infrastructure, means that strictly following the Singapore model will get Rwanda nowhere.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Pride of the Local and the Prejudice of the NGO Professional

Upon arriving at the Kigali Airport on his three-day trip in Rwanda, the author was greeted at the arrival gate of the beautifully constructed and maintained building by a young, uniformed taxi driver.  "Where would you like to go, sir?" the young man respectfully half-bowed and politely asked in fluent English.  The author, usually doubtful of airport taxi solicitors (too many bad memories of getting ripped off in Asia), was initially a bit hesitant to disclose his destination, but quickly relented when shown the car in the impressively well-organized rank of uniform and clean blue taxis.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Underlying Universal Political Forces of Later "Three Kingdoms"

For people interested in ancient Chinese history, the Three Kingdoms era (roughly the second to three century AD) is one of the most familiar portion.  The titular novel on the subject, romanticizing the heroes of the era, along with numerous movies, books, and video games based off their stories, have become hits across much of East Asia in the past decades.  However, most of the interest in the era focus on the earlier half of the era, when various warlords and generals make their historical debut from humble origins in their respective lofty goal in uniting China in an era of internal divisions.

Monday, October 12, 2015

當他人的不幸加强了民族的自卑

上周,著者曾以當事人的角度觀察了本組織的同事們是如何以一種表面上的不以爲是來打發一個令人悲傷的新聞。很可惜的是,這件以同時男友被殺害開始,以其同事的心理崩潰而突然離開組織而結束的故事并未在最近的一個星期繼續發酵,以至著者無法再以實際事例證明這件事情對所有人的持續傷害。但可以肯定的是,即便這件事情永遠不再同事間的會話中被再次提起,它對這個組織,特別是對其抱有“在非洲拯救世界”理想心態的所有外國雇員的心理打擊是持續的,所造成的心裏陰影是永遠的。

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Can a Person "Invest" in His Own Isolation?

In the downtown areas of Iringa, there is the usual array of Tanzanian eateries serving local favorites like rice and beans, chips and grilled meat, along with localized versions of Chinese, Indian, and Western favorites.  Some of the more high-end restaurants frequented by moneyed local businessmen/officials and foreign tourists on their way to nearby national parks try even harder to specialize those local favorites in a more higher-end setting.  The results, will still fitting for the local environment, create more sanitary and secluded environments for foodies, local and foreign.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

ちょっとした上辺の関係

「もし身近な場所でとんでもない悲劇が起こったら、皆さんはどう反応するんだろう?」著者は何となくこんなことを思いながら、6人の同僚と土曜日の晩御飯を食べていた。その料理はまさしくもアフリカにいる外国人らしい:パスタにサラダ、赤ワインとジュースを備え、締めはクッキーとアイスクリーム。もちろんすべてが手作り。まあ、単なる普段料理に使える食材や調味料が不足してるので、これはすでに驚くほどの豊富。7人はカジュアルな会話をしながら、食事を終わらせ、ポップコーンをつまみながら夜遅くまで映画鑑賞…

The "Frivolity" of "Forever"

In his now 27 years of existence, the author has never been to a proper wedding.  To him, the pompous ceremony is cringe-worthy in its underlying meaning beyond all the obvious pomp.  The cheesiness of exchanging vows to be side-by-side forever always have that fearful element of a permanent contract between two people, one that requires enforcement through changes in circumstances and personalities.  A wedding is, beyond ceremonial symbolism, a real symbolism of newly required maturity, one that the author is be no means ready to accept.