A Shandy
Aug. 24th 2003
This is a much more peaceful entry than the last one. The anger levels have been returning to normal, and I am at least back in the orange zone, if not the green one.

In the previous week, I met a new ferenj. I didn't pay much attention to them at first, they were walking along near to where I live with a habesha. I didn't realise who the habesha was as I basically paid no attention until she asked me about hotels. I then looked a bit more closely and could recognize the habesha. I can't remember his name but he is definitely a chancer, and someone that a new person does not want to know really. I have met him before but try to be rude enough to make him not want to talk to me but it does not seem to work. I decided to hang around with them while they were looking at a hotel. My intention was to see whether a 'rescue' was needed. This turned out to be the case and I made things just awkward enough for them to leave without being over the top.

The new ferenj in town, Orsa, is only here for a few weeks while she prepares for a degree on conflicts and their effects on people. After getting rid of another chancer, we headed up to the Yordanos where we found the American guests and Dr Mulu. I delivered some chocolate that I had bought for the Americans - a present that they seemed very happy to receive. I think it would be fair to say that Will and Kim did not really take to the local food - it was way too spicy.

Orsa had made her way here completely under her own steam - I certainly wouldn't fancy getting the bus from Addis to here myself. She was now looking for research assistants, but I suggested that she used a student from MIT instead because all she really needed was a translator. In the end, the students proved a good source of information for the degree anyway. Sister Ruth and I had kept their English essays and from the contents of these Sister Ruth was able to suggest suitable students.

Friday was a farewell for the American guests, and the local circus put on a performance for them at MIT. I was lucky(?) enough to take part in the performance. They needed someone to stand on. And it was my shoulders that they used! I was also challenged to do a simple flexibility exercise by one of the 'bendy' performers. It must have been easy becuase I managed it, although I did have trouble balancing and almost ended up on my bum.

After the performance, we were taken to BuBu hills, the poshest restaurant in town for dinner. However, I can't say the food was anything special. What was interesting was the company. There were some important people from Tigray here, and Orsa was able to get contacts with nearly all of them. Not bad for one week of work.

This week has been a little less hectic than last week. Our guests meant that I was kept busy for most of the time, but could not start on the work that I really needed to do. We were able to take the students out to the factory so that they could see where they would be networking. I was evenutally given a plan of the building at the end of the week.

The biggest thing of this week was the Acadmic Commission meeting in which I successfully argued for the use of Linux over Windows. It would make my life easier by far. And, despite what MS says, UNIX is still far easier to maintain for a network no matter how they try to skew things. It took quite a bit of arguing and I wouldn't normally argue so hard but I did what I would do in the UK. I systematically took apart every argument against. Normally I would worry about offending people, but this was far too an important issue. Probably more important for the students than for me.

I also found out this week that a decision about Ato Hagos has been overturned, and he is now going to be Vice-Dean. That is definitely another step in the right direction.

At this time of year, there are three days of 'ashendi'. During this time, young women roam the streets in 'gangs'. Normally they are smartly and traditionally dressed and at least one of them has a drum. They will sing and ask for money. If you get caught in the middle of one of these gangs as a man - good luck! You are tugged and pulled in all directions. Normally 1 birr is more than enough to get you out alive, and I am keeping lots of 1 birr notes and change on me. Of course, a ferenji man attracts much more attention, and I literally have to stick to the back roads and I am not going out of the house much.

In fact, as I am writing this I can hear a small group somewhere in the compound, although they don't really seem to be making much noise. I am being a 'bad' VSO and hiding, I have switched off the radio and the only noise I am making is from the typing. It has also just started to rain, so I don't think that there will be many girls around for a little while.