Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Reaching Bongo

10-11 July 2010
On 10th we started for Bolgatanga. Cherith, a volunteer from the Upper East Region accompanied us during the journey. She is based in Zebilla a district town near
Bolgatanga. Sometimes Bolgatanga is also called just Bolga. The journey from Accra to Bolgatanga covers the entire span from South to North of the country, since Accra is on the south on the coast and Bolgatanga is near the Northern boundary of Ghana with Burkina Faso. Cherith had booked our tickets for the STC a state run transport company. The bus was air conditioned but the seats were not at all comfortable. We started at 9:00 am. The bus took us through many small towns and bigger cities viz. Kumasi and Tamale. The road was good in many locations but was also very bad for some long patches. In each of the town there was traffic jam. The driver was driving it slow. It was raining. All of these conditions lead to the result of us reaching Bolgatanga at 3:00 am on the next day. The journey was uneventful and with the enormous delay, it was very boring.
I noticed that names of some of the shops were very funny. Somewhere I spotted the board Battery Doctor for a shop which was engaged in repairing car batteries. There were this Humble Lady Beauty Salon and Fresh Girl Beauty Salon. With the standards of traditional Indian society, ladies going to beauty parlour are certainly not considered humble. Can a Jain or devout Brahmin person digest the idea of Grace of Lord Meat Shop, but it was here in Ghana. There was one Fair Play Construction company. Where this play does come in the construction and I worry what will happen to the structures which they are building if they are playing though fairly.
After reaching Bolgatanga, in the morning on 11th we went to an International Travellers Inn. It sounds very high end but it is a small highly budget place serving omelets and tea but it is international as it is frequented by tourists mostly backpackers. We could meet many volunteers who are based in Bolgatanga. I don't remember names of all of them frankly speaking, as the interaction was loose and more limited to hi and hello. It will take some time to know them all. But I could meet Jillian and Jason Hess with whom I had done some interaction via emails regarding the placement. Most importantly it was nice to meet my friend Rose from India.
Today, first time after coming to Ghana, I came across some non Indian people, who know the name Sachin. It was Anthony, a British volunteer, who likes Sachin Tendulkar and likes Cricket more than football. Being not much into the sports, I am not much fan of cricket In spite of these facts, it was comforting to hear all this admiration of cricket and Sachin Tendulkar as it was something from my homeland. Anthony had visited Mumbai in the December 2008 and lucky enough to escape the terrorist attacks as he left the city just two days before that. He told me that he used to visit Leopold Café which was one of the targets of the terrorists.
Another surprise awaited me when I was getting dropped by the VSO vehicle to the place of my placement Bongo. We were coming back by dropping Cherith and Douglas at Zebilla and this wonderful driver Issa asked me about the actor Sachin from Bollywood. He had watched one of his movie Geet Gata Chal. Both the actor and the film are somewhat lower in the popularity ranks but are really good.
What followed were just intense discussions about Bollywood. He told me how he likes the Indian culture displayed in the Hindi films and the values in Joint families and respect towards the elders etc. He told me detailed stories of two old Hindi movies, recited a Hindi poem from one of Amitabh Bachchan's film, knew many Hindi words and phrases, knew names of most of the actors and actresses of old times and also their sons and daughters who have entered into the film world. He told that they run a phone in radio programme in Tamale, where people ask questions to the host, an Indian. The questions are about the meanings of words and sentences used in the films; the parts of films which they could not understand and about the social life and whose who in Bollywood. I felt that it took less time from Zebilla to Bolgatanga than it had taken from Bolgatanga to Zebilla though the distance was same.