Relative was visiting

A young male relative visited me last month.  I have always gotten along with him, but was worried that I would bore him out of his mind since he is a young adult with different interests.  Instead, he had a big blast as much as I did.

It was his first time in the US, so I took him all over DC metro area where we even rode Segways, something I have wanted to do for a long time.  I took him to NYC where we walked on the Brooklyn Bridge, toured the Statue of Liberty (another thing I have long wanted to do) and visited ground zero new developments among other tourist things.

Young man did not have any places except for a couple that he was interested in, so he did what I said we do.  However – and this is a big however – he was interested in tasting new foods that he had seen on TV shows like Anthony Bourdain’s.  First up was Ben’s Chilli bowl, a place I had never been interested in.  We went to the H street place, and I enjoyed the food so much that I took young man to the Arlington one as well where I ordered a hot chilli dog and a chilli burger for one meal.  Delicious!  In NYC, he had Korean food which was to die for, Philly cheesesteak (it was so-so) and the New York cheesecake which was out of this world.

It was fun to bond with young man and see the States through his eyes.  It was also nice to hear him speak as an adult and not as a boy.  One thing that touched me, though, was that he said the highlight of his visit for him was talking about a beloved who passed on a few years ago.  He said it helped him heal.  I enjoyed that part of the visit as well.


African colleagues, tell us your views

Many times some Africans (myself included many years ago) complain that westerners are domineering and arrogant.  One of my former employers worked a lot with westerners and this was a big issue for us ‘locals’ because we felt that our western counterparts pushed their ideas on us and expected us to do their bidding.  Interestingly,  our western colleagues felt that the locals did not give their viewpoints in a non too clear way, otherwise they did not say anything a all.  This became such a contentious issue that our overall boss called for an urgent cultural retreat and everyone had to attend.  This is one of the best and useful retreats I have ever attended.

Westerners said they felt that Zambians and other Africans that they worked with did not open up or contradict them when they had different views.  The westerners said they got to know our true feelings through our actions.  Basically, if Africans carried out some tasks/actions discussed in a meeting with westerners, then it meant that we were for the agreed action.  Otherwise,  we the Africans would not carry out an ‘agreed upon’ task if we did not agree with it, even though we had not opposed it during a meeting.  I was personally surprised to hear this, because I thought westerners would know from my silence or body language that I did not agree with them.

Westerners on the other hand, were shocked that Africans thought they were arrogant.  They just thought they were letting people know their views!

The dynamics in the team changed immediately after this retreat.  Both sides were more sensitive to how they communicated with the other and relations warmed.  We were in a meeting one day and Zambian colleague gave input that was 50% words and 50% non-verbal.  Zambians got the message, but the westerners did not.  One of them brought up the issue immediately and asked for the Zambian to use verbal communication, at which every one understood.  It was a very good lesson to not only the Zambians present, but westerners as well.

Personally, I noticed changes in myself not only at work but in my personal life as well.  I opened up more and was open to others’ frankness without taking offence.  This has served me well through the years.

Zambians just love color!

I was shocked several years ago when I read a blog by a tourist from the UK who had visited Zambia and he said Zambians love wearing “garish” (it’s the word he used) colors.  What?!!  I didn’t see anything strange or loud about the colors we wore, until many years after I moved away from Zambia.  I remember visiting home one year, and my eyes were assaulted by the extremely bright colors that people wore, especially women, not in a bad way though.

I visited home this year again and the fact that Zambians love color was brought home in this photo I took by mistake:


That’s my mum in black and me in blue.  You should see the full attires – they are loud and garish! 🙂  The colors of one attire would have sufficed for seven people.  Would I change the colorful way I dress, especially in summer?  No way.  Color is in my genes and DNA.  🙂

Have a colorful end of week, all.


Lost my voice – interesting responses

I have been losing my voice quite regularly for some reason.  My allergist has referred me to another specialist who I will be seeing next week.  Life is great, apart from this little hiccup.

I normally preface by informing people – either by whispering (if my voice can come out), ‘sign language’ or in writing that I have lost my voice.  Ninety percent of the time they respond in one of the following interesting ways:

  1. They whisper back to me – no matter how long our conversation is.  It is interesting how we unconsciously mirror people we interact with.  (I think I will start  whispering with loud people so that I have a quieter life.)
  2. They write a note to me.  Don’t people realize that speaking is a faster and easier way to communicate?  Also, I am not deaf.
  3. They use ‘sign language’.  This is really interesting as both the other person and I don’t know sign language beyond logical signs and so sometimes the messages get lost.
  4. They shout their responses to me.  I SAID I LOST MY VOICE, NOT MY HEARING FACULTY!!!!!   AND, HERE HAVE TWO EXTRA!!
  5. They shout and use ‘sign language’ at the same time. Usually this does not help as the sign language just distracts me since it is usually exaggerated and obviously not ‘saying’ what the words mean.

I used to tell people that I could hear at first, but people continued doing whatever they thought was the best way of communication with me so I just stopped.  We will see what tomorrow holds in my Communications Department :).

Have a great weekend, all, and talk on my behalf

Allergies galore!

I was Zambia for three beautiful weeks and came back a couple of weeks ago.  Life had been beautiful and smooth in Zambia and I had not had to take an any allergy meds after the first week.  My mother even commented that I had stopped rubbing my nose.

Well, fast forward to landing in DC – life has not been as smooth.  I came down with severe allergies, was coughing, wheezing and voiceless for the past two weeks.  I have spent half the time off-sick.  My handbag has been a pharmacy on its own.

It’s been bad, but at least I am much better today.  Allergies are the one downside of my life in DC.  To make matters worse, I am allergic to grass so it is not a seasonal issue.

The bright side of allergies is that my times outside DC/the US are more enjoyable as I don’t suffer.  OK, not sure if there is a bright side to allergies…..

DC Public Property: Mice and Rats

I have never known the difference between mice and rats, but one thing I know for sure is that there was a huge influx/population explosion of the creature in DC in the years I was away.  I don’t remember seeing any mice on the streets before I left DC nine years ago, but they are everywhere now.  They seem to be DC public property.

I encountered this boy downtown


This situation got me thinking:

  • Is DC now a dirty city?
  • Has the mice’s habitat been overtaken by new construction?
  • Is the District broke and can’t afford regular exterminations?
  • Have the mice developed resistance to extermination chemicals?

I hope District officials find a way of dealing with this problem before we have an outbreak of the bubonic plague or some other such undesirables.  I don’t necessarily think that the plague will break out but, well, the mind wanders…..

I hope your cities/towns are not affected as we are here.






Visit to Durban

I took a weekend trip to Durban when I lived in South Africa.  I had always heard that there are a lot of people of Indian descent, and the stories did not lie.  They were everywhere you looked.

I had lunch at the revolving restaurant.  I can’t remember how the food was, but I liked having a revolving view of the city.

Yep, revolving restaurant!

Yep, revolving restaurant!


View one

View one


View 2 - loading dock

View 2 – loading dock


View 3 - Moses Mabhida Stadium view

View 3 – Moses Mabhida Stadium view in the distance


View 4 - Downtown Durban

View 4 – Downtown Durban



View 5 - ah, palm trees.  Beautiful view

View 5 – ah, palm trees. Beautiful view

I later took a walk on the beach where I saw some interesting and shocking things.    The interesting ones are shown in the pictures below, but I could/would not capture the shocking one.  There are open public showers where swimmers can clean up.  Well, one woman decided that taking a shower with her bathing costume was not good enough, so she showered in the nude and was laughing away.

There was a lot of sand art


The Titanic

The Titanic


The Calabash Stadium

The Calabash Stadium

I had heard of tides before, but had never seen one at work so to speak.  My guide took me to one spot and said it was very beautiful when the tide was high.  I could not believe that the water would come right up to the buildings in another hour, so I asked that we take a tour around town and come back later.  An hour later, the water  was right up to the buildings – what a surprise and an educational moment for me!

Baptism in the Indian Ocean

Baptism in the Indian Ocean


My favorite place was to the Valley of a Thousand Hills, a really beautiful place.  I did some gambling at the casino and decided that it was a boring way (for me, at least) to spend time.  I am glad, because I think it is an expensive pastime.  All in all, I had a good time in Durban.

















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