Congo · Congostyle

the three-week blackout

It’s fine if you’re in a village and there is, from the get-go, no electricity and running water.

Problems, however, start to arise, when you’re living in accommodations engineered for not only functioning only with electricity and running water, but built to function only with air conditioning, and all of a sudden, as usual, there is a blackout.

Toilets flushing? Showers? Refrigeration? Breathing? Clean clothes?

All of a sudden these things start to float into semi-distant memory, and you are lying on a bed, sweating profusely, unable to bathe, unable to bring yourself to go to a toilet you won’t be able to flush, and thinking…I wish this was a village. At least the mud hut would be cool…

GAH! The real problem is a feeling of anger that my little beautiful country of only 2 MILLION PEOPLE, which is an oil producer, and a heafty one at that to warrant the visit of the French President…is going to be deprived of electricity for the next three weeks, and that I am reading of all books, V.S. Naipaul’s India: A Wounded Civilization.

Note to all in a potentially similar situation: Do not read A Wounded Civilization if you are in a place where you can do nothing about the situation, particularly if you are in a place like Congo, India, or any place where you will be unable to do much but be increasingly more frustrated about levels of poverty, corruption and a culture/civilization in the making or in the process of transformation.

On the plus, I understand how my parents have rekindled their love of books. I’ve devoured books in the emerging blackout, from Kazuo Ishiguro’s When We Were Orphans to I am What I am, the tale of Joan Hannington, England’s Jewel Thief, to this one and Persepolis, the graphic novel about a young woman returning to Iran, and I started reading Treblinka but wasn’t quite able to start coping with graphic tales of the Holocaust.

The matter at hand is difficult to deal with because I realize that if I want to become someone who writes knowledgeably and hopefully and well about this continent I so love and in the end, believe in…I’m going to have to find a way to come to terms with its growing pains.

But it’s a lot easier to be hopeful, and light-hearted and jolly and all that when you can flush the toilet, wear clean underpants and take a decent shower, and think in a cool, dry place, and you don’t have to throw all your food out every day.

Well. This is the other side of the coin, I guess. And I’ve only been here, what…a week?

More tales of the whimpy white girl to come later.

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