Monday 28 September 2009

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness

My nephews in Cornwall bring in the harvest...

Saturday 26 September 2009

At this time...

Another lingusitic mystery....Why do officials -- airline cabin staff in particular -- like to say "at this time" when they mean "now" or "right now"? I have never heard a real person use this rather strangled phrase. There is of course the officialese user's fear of the single perfectly adequate word, add more, add more and you sound more important. But I don't think that tells the whole story. Will ponder.

Wednesday 23 September 2009

Ways with Words

African English and uses of English are sources of endless joy. My two favourites for this trip have been:
"God Help Us Driving School" and "No Wife Video Library"

Maasai Ramadan

My Maasai bretheren do not observe Ramadan. Along with swimming, eating fish, vegetables and chicken (really only for women!) and eshewing beer it is one of the annoyances of living away from the homelands.

Monday 21 September 2009


Ramadan is now over for another year. I sort of half observed it when I was in Zanzibar. I didn't eat during the daylight hours but found doing without liquids a bit tricky in the heat. My conduct clearly wouldn't satisfy a zealot but I felt I was showing some willing as well as shedding the odd excess pound.

The Holy Month is one of my favourite times to go to Islamic countries. It provides an excellent opportunity to meet with local people in a relaxed and peaceful way. When the fast lifts at sundown everyone sits down to eat together. Food is such a great universal language. The preparations take all day -- all the more lovingly carried out by hungry chefs. As with so many other things outside our crazy western fishbowl, the preparation of food is not a chore, rather a communal activity. It's the chance to chat and put the world to rights. It's due reverence to that most basic of human activties, sustenance. Somehow despite the rise of the TV chef, internet recipes and ubiquotous food porn we could do with a dose of such human sense.

Busy Kitchen

Tuesday 8 September 2009

Endless Blue

At home in Wales I look out on the beautiful Towy Valley. In spring and summer the counterpane of fields, trees and hills is stitched together from more shades of green than I could imagine possible. Here on the east coast of Zanzibar we have endless versions of the colour blue. The lagoon, the ocean and the sky -- each brings its own palette of my very favourite colour. Even the language of blue is exotic -- turquoise, azure, aquamarine. They are all there of course and so many more for which we will never shape words.

Pondering, as one does sitting on the edge of the world, I imagine Earth with yellow skies, red grass and a green sky. I can't believe, even after millennia to get used to it, that we would find it quite as "right" as the current arrangements.

Normal Service Resumes

I am back from Africa. The blog silence has been the result of a] poor connectivity in my village in Zanzibar b] my distaste of being one of those travellers who visits paradise but misses it because there was always an excuse to sit at the laptop checking Facebook...

Anyway I did write some rough pieces which I will post over the next week or so. If you like you can imagine I am still there tapping away with all the Facebook saddoes.