As I write there are two days of English rain before me and then I fly to Kenya. The nausea washes over me in waves of anxiety in a sea of troubles, and I can’t help but wonder why exactly it is that I am rejecting the comfort of my dear friends, of flushing loos, and my independence. These pangs of regret are in some part probably motivated by the shockingly miniscule information which has been forthcoming from the organistion with which I am going, then perhaps there is ignorance in bliss.
Though let us turn to a training weekend I had to enjoy on the edge of a commuter belt town in a chain hotel. Three long days in a poorly planned and ill-conceived series of seminars on vague themes. While I am sure labouring over the idea of cultural difference is helpful for some, I have spent the past four long years contending with the french post-structuralists, and the idea of différance, and was screaming internally. This makes me sound like a douche, I don’t care. You spend that time in a library wrestling with ridiculous concepts and then spend a weekend having a baby-food version spoonfed to you in a particularly stuffy room, and then be sweetness and joy about it. Another bug bear was an attempt to try make icebergs and seagulls work as metaphors for ourselves. As the Titanic, I upon this rock was wrecked, whilst Chekov span in his grave.
Again this makes me sound like a douche, but then I say, spend four years analysing metaphor and then have all of that distorted by ham-fisted writing and judge me. That this was considered the necessary and fulfilling training for three months of charity work did not fill me with confidence.
This lack of organisation is an on-going concern, and the blind faith which I have had to invest into the same people who organised that weekend with my well-being in a distant land does set my heart beating that little bit faster. I keep hoping that on the ground the situation is in hand, as is usually the case and the occasional updates I get from in country do seem more thorough and organised.
However, these people can only do so much and it is unlikely that they are going to be able to stop the horrific flow of vomiting and diarrhoea which I am eagerly anticipating. I would be lying if I said that the 70% diarrhoea rate did not raise my interest. Hopefully this will be but a short if unpleasant episode which I will holler with laughter about later. I have imodium. I’m also considering the pros and cons of a cork.
Whilst I might be able to stem that tide I fear that my ability to charm the animals may fail me. Rabies, and the destruction of my brain, is something with which I am dreading contact. But hey ho, I’ve had my Rabies boosters, so all I have to do is run to the doctor’s surgery and get some more shots in the arm.
Speaking of shots, I am actually not that concerned with the prospect of crime. Whilst Nairobbery might be statistically riddled with crime, my home town is statistically and literally riddled with the Clap and teen pregnancies, and I managed to dodge those bullets.
So beneath that weight of worry I have had to ask why is it exactly that I’m doing this. First of all as you can guess I’ve spent too long in the company of academics, books and the like and it would probably be a good idea to actually see the world around me, its highs and its lows. Its great diversity, to mix with those who come anew to the idea of cultural difference in a comuter belt town, as much as those who I will meet in Kenya, to hear their stories, stories which I would never otherwise come into contact.
Secondly, as you can also guess there’s a side of my character which, if we’re kind, we might call eccentric, and if we’re critical, we’d call plain douchey. For instance, I was at a reeling ball the week before I left, and in between breaking into the bar and trying to outdance everybody else, I managed to rename myself The Don and demand people kiss my ring. Signet not shitter. It would be good if I were more humble. Though I am concerned that if I do become more humble it will just allow that other side of myself to claim greater heights, that in doing good deeds I will accrue credit for further mischief. Those are, I think, reason enough to do something which gives me figurative and potentially literal vomit.
I have spent the last year living according to two people’s words. One was my tutor who said at a drinks party, where I eventually ended up reading the entirety of the gathering’s palms crossed legged with a shawl and an orderly queue, that “sometimes, life is dull.”
I disagree, life should never be boring, it can be content and happy but never do I want my life to be but the motions of living. Contrariwise, a very dear friend has the habit of going “Oh Sod It!” and plunging in, and her life is the better for it, if that does lead to bizarre circumstances like dancing on a heath to Kate Bush whilst fireworks blaze in the background. So I’ve said oh sod it, and I hope at least I will say that the next three months won’t have been dull.
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