Thursday, 22 July 2010

No Hurry Please!!!

20-21 July 2010
Bongo is small place and like most of the places which are small, the pace of life here is slow. People call it as a laid back attitude to life.
I was told that I shall be part of the the meeting which is going to be held at 10:00 am today. Now while I am writing this it is 10:21 and still it is not clear where (or whether) meeting is going to be held today. I have been able to just sit here in laid back Ghanaian way and type this post on my laptop. Ghana lies on the time zone which is called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) which is same as United Kingdom but here they call it jokingly that it is 'Ghana May be Time'.
The District Assembly office theoretically starts working at 8:00 am and closes at 5:00. I see people roaming around and engaging in their lengthy process of greetings till 9:30 and leaving for their homes by 4:15. Disappearing in between for long breaks for lunch. I am not including the long chats on the subjects such as football, international relations, politics etc. which occur frequently while sitting on the office desks. In restaurants they tell the dish will be ready within 3 minutes when you have to assume that it is one zero added to that figure and you don't become angry when it comes after 30 minutes.
Don't expect quick service or answers. Be prepared for long discussions leading to nothing. Still life runs on and makes some progress as well. It seems it is more to do with catching the pace of it than splitting hairs over it. Yes I have to tell you as I write now that meeting was held at around 11:00 am as my efficient boss got everything in place while managing everybody with his strong sense of humour and it was quite useful for making some progress in my work plan.
They could not pronounce my name Sachin very well on the first day when I arrived in Bongo and then they were asking me for my surname so that they could address me with that. I was worried if I tell them that it is Patwardhan they will be just stuck up and won't be able to call me at all. Therefore I told that they should call me by my first name only. After a week I have started hearing my name pronounced in Ghanaian way as Saa-shin which is very sweet to hear. The day before, a lady who works in the office, came to my boss complaining that I don't greet her. My boss tried to explain her that he comes from a different culture and it will take some time for him to get used to the things here. But I heard some continued arguments over the issue. Of course I could not understand the whole discussion as it was in Gurune. The next day she started to greet me and teach me phrases in Gurune. It really takes time to get used to it.
They say Ghana lies on the verge of change, as economic development is pretty fast here. European people can buy their treasured cheeses and Champaign made all the way in Europe in the far off town of Bolgatanga. I get many Indian brands of commonly used items in the small general shop in Bongo. There are Super Max shaving blades, match boxes made in Sivakasi, incense sticks from Bangalore. Mobile phones have started reaching distant corners of the country. Computers and internet is spreading fast. One can be in touch with the distant corners of the world while sitting in the small village of Bongo. These days people are talking about local entrepreneurship for a new era of proud Africa instead of foreign investments and aid. But I think what Ghanaians will always say in addition to it is, "No hurry please!".