Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Relatively Speaking!!!

5 July 2010
The entire day went by openly or secretly comparing the conditions between Ghana (and sometimes Africa) with India.
Today I met a nice person with whom I am sharing my room. His name is Samuel and he is from Kenya. He is currently placed in the northern part of Ghana and has spent almost 18 months in the country. I learnt many things about volunteering, living at the remote locations, managing the expenses etc. He has come as a volunteer representative and shall be helping during the training. From each region they have invited some volunteers who have spent considerable amount of time in the country. Through the day we got to know about many intricacies of our lives as volunteers through them. There are two Dutch, two British and one Filipino woman in this group of experienced volunteer representatives.
During the day I found that I could relate more to the experiences of African volunteers than the European volunteers. Conditions through which most of the African volunteers are coming from are poorer or middle class background. Similar to them, standards of living in the Indian middle class are certainly nowhere near to the European middle class standards.
Today when everybody was enjoying their meat at the time of lunch and dinner, I ate only vegetarian things which were available on the menu. I just got fed up of seeing those big pieces of meat after eating my breakfast today. Probably the real Indian vegetarian inside me came out today. On the food front, one preparation which I liked a lot was Kelewele. These are fried half ripe banana chips. They are just delicious and I am going to learn some day how to make them.
Another striking thing to me was a subject about which I know very little and most of the Africans and Europeans just loved to discuss it. This subject is Football. In India, Cricket just dominates the entire sport scenario and football is just some fun to watch and nothing to be seriously discussed. We are here at the time when Ghana had to leave the World Cup in the quarter finals and every where, international volunteers not being the exception, the subject of football is being hotly discussed. Sometimes I found out that I could not understand parts of discussions many sentences just because of lack of knowledge about the game.
After finishing the training part of the day, I and Raj went for a stroll. We walked for about an hour and ended up in a large street market. I wanted to buy a shorts for the purpose of swimming. Although being sold on the street, it was priced at 5 G. cedis (160 Rs.), which should have costed only Rs.60 in the Indian streets, and thus feeling that I was being cheated being a foreigner, I dropped my plan of buying it. Of course I may buy it tomorrow as I desperately want to take a dip in the swimming pool in the hotel and I don't have any shorts with me right now.
Most of the market was filled with all types of old things. Two wheelers, clothes, mobile phones, furniture, TV sets, refrigerators etc. Strangely not much of buying was on and although there were many people in the market, many of them seemed to be just stray. Sellers were not busy dealing with the customers. We saw two quite young girls standing at a side of the road and openly eyeing us. I had a feeling that they were prostitutes trying to lure some customers. The overall market scene was surely depressing for the first day out on the streets of Ghana.
An interesting incidence happened during our stroll. We were curiously looking towards things which were on sale on the sides of the street. One old lady was selling something and we were looking at those items. The women started shouting "Obruni Obruni". We could not understand it and told her "thanks, we don't want to buy anything." The youth, who was passing by, told us that by Obruni she means White Man. So, that black woman perceived our brown Indian colour as White. It was very funny and we had a good laugh over it. Most of us after all do think in relative terms it seems.