Friday, 16 July 2010

Trying to settle myself in Bongo

13-15 July 2010
I have been given an accommodation in the staff quarters in the district assembly and though not luxurious, it has all the basic amenities which are required for a person to live comfortably. The water comes every alternate day and I have to stock it in the big water storage bin. It is perfectly OK with me. Bongo is a very little town having population of around 7000 and has little to offer. Although it is called as town, it is just a bigger village if you measure with Indian standards. Fortunately there is very good connectivity with the mobile phone services and one can also access internet using USB modem, though both are expensive.
One more speciality of Bongo is its rocks. There are many granite rocks spread all across the area of the village. There is a small hillock which has some special rock formations. The colour of the rocks is pink. The scene is somewhat similar to the one which we find in India near the border areas of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, which one can see while travelling by train from Mumbai to Bangalore. The only difference is the colour. Here in Bongo, it is pink and there in the Deccan, it is black. The soils are sandy and it is drought prone area receiving rainfall ranging between 700-1000 mm of rainfall. There is only one rainy season. The major crop which one can see everywhere nowadays is a millet similar to Bajra (Pennisetum sp.). As the crop is in its flowering stage, there is huge number of small plant hoppers which always struggle to come in the room. On the second day after coming here, I made the mistake of keeping the door open and found myself surrounded by these hoppers. Fortunately there are not many mosquitoes around as the place is relatively free of stagnant water.
I have not yet started socialising in the village much as I know very few people and am not really sure about the people who try to unnecessarily come around just by looking at my foreign features. A major change has happened in my behaviour and that is with the way I am approaching people. As opposed to India (especially Maharashtra,), where we don't start speaking with anybody who just comes across and always very stingy on the greetings, here in Ghana, no conversation starts without the greetings. Even if a person is dissatisfied with another, conversation always starts with the usual Good Mornings, Afternoons or Evenings. They have all the greetings in the local language but most of the people around understand those in English as well. An old lady in the office smilingly always makes me answer the greetings in the local Gurune language and she has become a sort of my unofficial Gurune teacher.
My boss with whom I shall be working had to go to Accra and would not return at least till tomorrow. I ended up having nothing to do. I read some old reports and manuals in the office while seating on the comfortable sofa set in my boss's office and taking little snoozes during the reading sessions.
I met one man named Peter who is an ex VSO volunteer. He is a teacher from Scotland and has lived in Bongo for two years from 2006-2008. His wife was also a short term volunteer for some time. Recently she died of cancer and made a wish to spend some of her money as a charity in Bongo. He is organising to promote some water resource development work in Bongo in addition to supporting a blind girl through education. From him I heard a strange hilarious story of one person named Ian. He is a white person who lived in Bongo a few years back as a volunteer for some NGO. He mixed with local people so well that within a couple of months the chief (traditional village head) of Bongo made him a sub chief. He was supposed to work as a sort of ambassador or leader for all the whites coming to the village. The village had organised some ceremony to mark his becoming a sub chief. Within six months he left the country and nobody has even heard from him. Some say that he is somewhere in China.
I shall like to tell you one more change which has happened in me. I get up at 05:00 am in the morning and sleep at 10:00 pm. The way Yoga expects a man to follow. It is not because I want to change myself but because there is simply nothing which I can do about it. No TV, no body to chat with, it is just me alone during the evenings. That’s the perfect condition to try transcendental mediation!