We had been working on designing a survey for youth who had taken part in training at the One Stop Youth Centre. I was working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania last week doing follow-up to the program evaluation training I did in Naivasha for the United Nations.
Dar es Salaam means ‘haven of peace’ in Arabic. I found haven in a hotel right around the corner from the City Council where the OSYC is housed.
My room was on the 10th floor. The restaurant was on the 9th floor. Now in my world when I subtract 9 from 10 I get 1. As in walk one floor down and voila the restaurant.
Not so much.
I walked one floor down and got onto some in between floor. I was no longer in the hotel. I was on a floor that contained multiple small business offices. It wasn’t decorated the same.
Confused, I scratched my head and wondered if this is what Alice felt like when she fell down the rabbit hole.
I never did get the hang of the elevators or stairwells. Certain elevators went to some floors and not others. Certain elevators would be reached round corners, twisting this way and, after a 5 minute walk.
The sign that pointed to the gym was in vain. There was no gym.
Perhaps it was the humidity. As I write this the humidity level is 84%. My international weather website forecast for Dar actually has water dripping from the sun. Translation: eyes tell me I am walking through air but skin feels like I am swimming through water.
At any rate, one can only take so much survey design before the need for sustenance takes over. I suggested we go for Lebanese food.
My colleagues greeted me with blank looks. Lebanese? Huh?
“Sure’” I said, “it’s only two blocks away. Great food. The hummus and feta are tasty and the prices reasonable.”
To which followed a somewhat lengthy explanation as none of them knew the restaurant, despite it being 2 blocks from their workplace.
Welcome to my home, Tanzania, I joked with them.
When we arrived at the restaurant, two colleagues ordered the ubiquitous fries and chicken and two colleagues joined me in sampling the hummus, feta and pita.
When I ask if one of my colleagues wants to share our food, he replies that switching from chicken wings to chicken legs is enough of a change for him.
We all take our change in different paces and measures. What’s drastic change for me might be commonplace for you.
How do you like your chicken …. what’s small pocket change for you? What’s ‘hang onto your hat, we’re going for a roller coaster ride’ change for you?