13-19 September 2010
I sometimes stay at the house of my volunteers friends, Jillian and Jason. They make a nice and hospitable couple. The road to their house is a dirt road which gets muddy when it rains, or really saying it has been always like that when rainy season started. There are always some guinea fowls that are grazing there near the road in the grasses which have grown alongside the road. When we walk on that road by getting our feet dirty as we walk in the mud trying to jump over the small puddles, guinea fowls start quacking loudly. I always feel that these creatures are laughing at us.
I never liked fruits much while in India. After coming here however I have started to eat them and have started to like them. The taste of fruits in India is just not good. It is because their lack of freshness and use of large amounts of chemicals. By freshness I mean the time the fruit has taken from reaching from the farm to the consumer. There are lot of processes involved in India so that the fruits are in right stage of ripening when they reach consumers. On the taste front, they loose a lot.
While speaking about the fruits, it occurs to me that one can not rely on the sellers here for anything. At the time of lunch, I preferred for two consecutive days to buy some bananas from the lady who operates a small stand near my office. On third day when I went there at the same time she was not there at all. I asked the neighbouring lady about her. She said that she did not know anything about her. The same is the case with the Gmebsa seller. Once I went there, there were hot freshly steamed Gmebsa available, next day when I went there same time, she was preparing fire. On the third day, she had decided not to prepare them at all and on the fourth day she had some cold ones available with her. “Whatever you are getting on the shops and street stands is a matter of pure luck or may be it is just some coincidence that they are there when you want to buy them,” I tell myself these days.
I have found out that I can mix very well with the western volunteers and have interest in the game of scrabble though right now I am faring very poor in it. One major thing I find in their culture and thinking is the distinct and strong sense of individuality. The differences in Western and Indian culture start from that point. By being in company of them I have been frequently hearing and learned about some abusive words like shit, crap, scum bag, jackass and f**k though I don't use them. The frequent use of these words in the friendly manner separates them from their real meaning. It is the same story with such words in India and I think in that respect Indians and Westerners are similar.
Life of local people in Ghana revolves around their tribal beliefs and customs. Back in India, we read many stories about tribal warfare and disputes. There is some inter-tribal rivalry existent in Ghana as well but it is mainly in a small part of the country. I came to know about some inter-tribal friendship as well. Dagare people from Upper West Region are considered as playmates of Frafra people of Upper East Region. If person of one tribe uses abusive language against person of the other tribe, the second person is not likely to be offended because they are by tradition considered as playmates. Dog meat is considered as a delicacy in both the Upper East and Upper West regions of Ghana. If a Frafra person cooks a dog and a Dagare person comes to know about it, he can just go there and take the head of the dog away. Head of the dog is considered as the most prized part of this most prized animal. It also happens vice a versa.
Since we are talking about dog meat, here is a story of a VSO volunteer in Bolgatanga and her pet dog. Whenever this volunteer took the dog on the street for the walk, people eyed the dog and always complemented her about the health of the dog and asked if she was thinking of giving it away or killing it. Once the dog was mistakenly kept lose and it went away on the street. It was hit by a large truck running speedily on the road and somebody noticed the event and ran to her to report it. By the time she went to the road, there were only some blood remains on the street. I wish all of those dog meat loving people from Upper East Region of Ghana were in Mumbai.
My neighbours had told me that they would be shifting to their new place on Wednesday. I greeted the woman on Tuesday and asked them by what time they were planning to leave and told her that I was feeling sad about their leaving this place. She told, “No, I don't know when we are leaving. We might be leaving on Friday and may be after that.” When it was Friday, I did not see any movement in the house related to packing or preparation for the departure. “Yes, I know you are following 'Ghana May be Time'. I know your favourite slogan which you people like to display everywhere, 'Who knows tomorrow'”, thought I. When I returned on Sunday after my stay at Bolgatanga for two days, the woman was still there doing her daily chores. I greeted her but did not ask her about her scheduled departure.