Best day so far

This is actually about yesterday; I was so busy having a good time, I didn’t get to write the blog until evening, when the Cybercafe was closed.

Today was the best day of my placement so far. I’m quite sure of it. Here are some of the ingredients and method that make up the recipe for a good VSO volunteer day:


Running always helps. I awoke at 5.15am. I’m not sure if that helps. But I could hear some birds squarking which meant it was morning, and I’d identified last night that, since I wouldn’t be teaching first thing, I had enough time to do a ‘long’ run if I got up at 6. I found myself breathing shallow and fast in antici…. pation. Then, a matatu on the road blew its horn and I somehow mistook it for the sound of my Psion Series 3a which serves as an alarm clock (and sounds slightly less like an alarm clock than it does like a distant motorhorn). I sprang up, like a sack of custard, trimmed my toenails to lilmit the damage, and started my 8km waddle to Nguluni.

Second breakfast

By 8am I’d done my stretching and hosed down with a pan of water warmed on the hob (because the “Faucet of fear” stopped working a few weeks ago). I decided to bike to Tala and pay in my allowance cheque at the Kenya Commercial Bank. I packed some dishes to return to Elizabeth, who sometimes brings be supprise cooked food parcels. (Supprise parcels — the food itself, you’ll be pleased to hear, is seldom supprising). I stopped at her place and “Hoodieed through the door. Think I woke her. Sharing food is a great part of hospitality here; as we talked she cooked me eggy bread and cocoa. I insisted she ate half of it as I was repleat with (oatmeal) porridge.

Business and pleasure

Elizabeth told me the bank didn’t open until 9am so I had a leasurely chat with her and then continued my day. Paid in the cheque and shopped for dry goods at Acacia Supermarket (the checkout girl asked me if I would use my half litre of Mala with Ugali. I answered: “More likely pancakes”). Then I paid a visit to Katie, the Peace Corps volunteer in Tala, round the corner at the Christian Children’s Fund office. All this, and the bike ride back to Holy Rosary, before morning teabreak.


Who’d-a-thought that the ‘T’ word would appear in this list? But there you go. First class, after teabreak, was a Javascript lab and it went so well that one of the ladies raised her hand and said:

“We are confused”.

She looked supprised when I said that this made me very pleased.

“In order to be confused you have to have at least an ounce of understanding”
Then I thought a bit, and changed from imperial to metric:
“At least a gram of understanding.”

The class didn’t look convinced.

“If you don’t understand anything”, I explained, “you’re like this:”
Now this bit is hard to write. I sat on the desk and stared into space with a placid, clueless smie on my face.

“Are you happy?”, I asked myself.
I nodded happily in reply.

“Are you with me?”, I asked myself.

“Do you understant me?”, I asked myself.

They laughed. They were getting it. They worked hard in the lab and figured out some programming shit that had defeated previous gruops here. I left the lab happy — the way teaching is meant to make you feel — and bounced back to the house with Jackson.


Jackson (VSO from Nguluni) had come to extract from his laptop a proposal he’d been working on. Normally he’d solve this simple problem with a floppy disk, but between us we’ve broken the floppy drive (Another story). The laptop is old: pre USB, so I connect a serial cross-over cable between his COM1: and the console of my linux box and transfer files using Z-modem.


(I don’t think this contributed much to the mix but I include it for completeness, and to make a break between the two teaching bits.) Lunch was githeri.

It tasted good.

I did most of the simple crossword in the Daily Nation.


What, again?


The afternoon class, a Cisco CCNA practical lab, also went well. The stage three students have not actually configured a router before; and I dumped them in it. They actually managed to do the whole lab, and clear up the cables and boxes, mostly wihin the two hour lesson (one group needed a bit of help at the end).

Email from Mithi

It’s been a while since we were in regular contact. I used to read what she’s up to on her own blog. It was so nice to get back in touch. Thanks honey!

Charleston Stroll

Sister Pauline told me that she’d mentioned “games” at morning parade and the girls had asked “What about dancing?”. I emerged from my Cisco lab in a good mood and went looking for ladies who wanted to dance. It took a while to round them up but they came, and there were more than a dozen of them, mostly new intake who’d not done it with me first time around. We did the Charleston Stroll, of course. I shouted myself horse, and had a wonderful time.

I’d forgotten that exquisite post-dance feeling: runner’s high combined with some sort of musical euphoria. Is this the drug that used to keep me Lindy Hopping solidly from 7.30 to midnight in London? I test positive, but please don’t ban me.

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