Sunday, December 23, 2007

A new threshold

I think one of the best things Africa can do for a person is increase their tolerance.

At first, when the power goes out, you get really angry. Your North American productivity pressurer kicks into gear, reminding you of all the things you have to do and all the things you won't be able to do now that there's no electricity. When I first arrived, in the dead of summer, when there is high demand for electricity because of the heat, and never enough supply, this frustrated me alot. But gradually, you begin to accept your new realities of life, and it has gotten to the point where a power outage is almost a relief because it means time to just relax or read quietly by candlelight.

Another example - appointments. I just stopped by a restaurant to try to book some space for a goodbye party with some friends. The owner wasn't there. They told me to call him. So I went back home, called him and he said, "stop by the restaurant and we can talk." WELL I WAS JUST THERE! WHAT A WASTE OF TIME. That would normally be my reaction. But here, you're forced to accept and return with a smile. It's a lesson in not being so obsessed with time and productivity. The pace of life is, as you would expect, slower. But the beauty is coming to accept the good in that.

It's been a gradual process for me, but I think I can see a marked difference. Having no water to shower with in the morning, sitting in the midst of flies, dealing with the men who are constantly hitting on you, accepting when the internet is down - it is all a question of your tolerance threshold, and luckily, I think mine has risen. It has to, otherwise you go crazy.

ps. i posted an album of pics on facebook if you want to have a look.

1 comment:

Marwa said...

Salamat Heba:

Thanks for that reflective post. It reminded me of my childhood years in Egypt where powercuts and lack of hot water were part of one's everyday life. I remember the powercuts before exams, those taught me to find innovative ways to study without electricity. Hot water shortage made the Alexandrian summer very unbrearable. But I got used to that too.

I am quite amazed at your tolerance for the shower of marriage proposals that keep coming. I know I would easily flip out if I were in your shoes :)

take care and come back safe inshaa Allah.

Eid Mubarak