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Terminal boredom

m8haje00 Kirjoittanut Jens Hattuniemi   blogissa Vyanzo - valkoisen pojan tarinoita Tansaniasta
Julkaistu 27.5.2011, klo 11:32

Now, you could think that spending five months in Tanzania would be action packed adventure with no chance to get bored. Well, that is not correct. I am terribly bored. You wake up, you go to work, you come back, you piss around in the Internet, have dinner and go to sleep. If you want excitement you got to bar and get wasted. If you really want excitement you go to a club. And that is it, day after day, week after week. I am terribly bored. Every single day is the same, nothing new happens even though people around change quite rapidly. Bar is the same, local people are the same and clubs are all the same.

So nothing really exciting happens. Week ago I lost my camera at a beach party. I was blackout drunk and according to my sources I borrowed my small camera to someone. And because I was blackout drunk, I forgot to ask it back and the next day my camera was missing. I honestly thought that someone had taken from my room when I was sleeping since within the four months I have been here there have been three bigger robberies in our volunteer house. But no, it was because my own stupidity and it cost me 10 000 shillings to get my camera back. Basically, I was sitting with my friend Saitoti at another bar when some guy, I do not recall his name correctly, probably Ali asked me that if my name is Jens. Yeah. Was your camera stolen? Yeah. Small and black? Yeah. At this point I knew what he was looking for so I just said “Look, I’ll give you 10 000 shillings if you get it back.” And by God he did, I never had the chance to see the guy who I “loaned” my camera but when I looked through the pictures in my memory card he had been taking photos everywhere near, flashing “his new camera” and you know, word gets around here.

I have been thinking that could it have been Ali who “borrowed” my camera but I see no logic in there. He could get more than 10 000 by selling it but he wanted to “help” me. I am guessing that he blackmailed the thief that we would go to the police station and inform them about who stole my camera. I asked Ali how much prison time you get in Tanzania for stealing. Six months to one year, he said. That is a bit much to suffer for one camera.

So yeah, that was the most exciting event of the last week. That is the reason why I am going to climb the mountain Kilimanjaro and visit Serengeti and Mombasa Kenya starting from 31st of May and ending in 21st of June.

Roughly my plan is this:
31st of May: We get a bus ride to Moshi.
3rd of June: We start to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro.
8th of June: We come back to Moshi from Mt. Kilimanjaro.
12th of June: We start Serengeti.
17th of June: We come back to Moshi.
18th of June: We head to Mombasa.
21st of June: We come back to Dar es Salaam.

Then I have nine days left before I head back to Finland. It is weird… it really is. I feel like I just arrived here. But every time someone new comes here and asks me that when I came here, and I respond that first of February they stare at me in awe and are amazed how long time that is. Okay, maybe it is. And now, when the end is near and I face the final curtain I reckon I have lived a life that is full in Tanzania. But in a way I miss Finland. No, I do not miss dark bread or milk, or not even my family but I miss my friends. I miss watching movies with my friends, staying up late, talking bullshit about everything humanly possible. I miss idle life.

Don’t get me wrong, I get along very well with the people here and I don’t feel like I am alone. Last night we had a quiz with two teams. British Empire vs. Shadow People in the Light. We won the brits by three points. And it was actually quite fun. I am still kicking myself in the head that I could not remember the full names of all Sex and the City –women. I remembered Carrie’s, Charlotte’s and Miranda’s last names but Samantha… Samantha, Samantha, Samantha… Samantha what? Even my team mates were commenting that “Oh, come on, you should know at least this one. She is the slutty one!”

But, about my little trip to Kilimanjaro, Serengeti and Mombasa: I will not take my laptop there so I might not update my blog as regularly as I have been updating it. But I promise you that I will take lot of pictures and give you the full report as soon as I come back and if I happen to find an Internet café, maybe even sooner.

As a final word for some time: I have to say sincere “FUCK YOU” to Finnish newspapers and especially to Kaleva. I am trying to sell a story about the Kilimanjaro climb and this is what they responded to me. Sorry English readers, it is in Finnish:

“Hei,
Sunnuntai-liitteessä ei valitettavasti enää ole sitä Eka kerta -palstaa, jolle kirjoitit suspensionista, eikä tällä hetkellä oikein muutakaan sopivaa paikkaa tuontyyppiselle jutulle. Joudun siis tällä kerralla vastaamaan ei. Kiitos kuitenkin tarjouksesta, ja ole yhteydessä, jos tulee muita juttuaiheita mieleen.
Mukavaa reissun jatkoa!”

Roughly translated it says: Sorry, we do not have that theme page anymore you wrote last time and we do not have a proper page for your story either. Thanks for the offer, go fuck yourself!”

First of all, to my knowledge there wasn’t any theme page at the time when I last wrote for Kaleva. And when they say that they do not have a proper page… they must think that I am some kind of idiot. Kaleva is a newspaper that is dominating Oulu province and since I have been working for a year in a newspaper I know that once in a while there will be travel themed page or leisure time page where my story would fit perfectly. But, like in every business, newspapers also want to save money and that’s why they refuse by stories made by anyone who is not a regular reporter at the paper. But, let’s not drown in the sour sea of bitterness… I am still trying to find a buyer.

I will return within three weeks at most, Dear Readers!

Movie review: Senior Bachelor Part 1

m8haje00 Kirjoittanut Jens Hattuniemi   blogissa Vyanzo - valkoisen pojan tarinoita Tansaniasta
Julkaistu 19.5.2011, klo 10:06

Somehow I have managed to avoid local movies even though I have lived in Dar es Salaam for nearly four months. I have heard rumors, told like scary camp fire tales, that they are incredibly, incredibly bad. When girls from the volunteer house have gone to braid their hair in local barber shops they usually have seen a glimpse of what they presume to be local soap operas. They say that story usually follows a pattern like this:


1)    Boy meets a girl.
2)    Boy falls in love with a girl.
3)    Boy founds out that the girl is related to him, usually a sister.
4)    Hilarity ensues.


Sooo many questions pop in to my head after hearing these plot twists. Like, who has the balls to ask the guy that “Dude, how in the name of all what is good and holy you did not know that you were banging your sister?” But no one is there to ask them, because that was the story. This life altering revelation is not followed by a mass suicide in a fashion of Greek tragedies. I love the fact that Tanzanian soaps have the balls to defy traditions of storytelling that are thousands of years old and are still defining Western drama. That takes a lot of ignorance – sorry – courage!


So, after hearing these rumors how could I possibly resist owning one of these mind boggling open sewers of twisted creativity from the great depths of sordid human perverse? It is a sickness, I know, and I’m not proud of it. Besides, I am getting pretty fucking sick and tired of everyone jabbering about Lion King, Lion King and Lion King. Yeah, I get it, it is a dear childhood favorite for many people and it happens to take place in Tanzania. And Jesus, Mary and Josef, look at that, we are in Tanzania! Who would have thought of that? So, I went to the nearby neighborhood of Tegetta to buy one Tanzanian movie, as loathsome as possible. So, I chose Senior Bachelor: Part One!

I have no idea what so ever what kind of movie industry holds place in Tanzania. But if it is anything similar to the TV industry, oh, boy, I was in for a treat! The name Senior Bachelor reminded me of a Hong Kong classic called Diary of a Big Man, a hilarious comedy where Chow Yun-Fat balances between two women. If you are not yet familiar with Hong Kong cinema my advice to you is to do it. Also, from the cover I got the impression that Senior Bachelor would be some kind of romantic comedy where the jolly fat man in the middle, named Jacob Stephen by the way, is balancing between the three ladies behind him. Oh, what a fool I was to think anything so enjoyable!

That is the title card and the first matter that really pops out is the music. When you expect a romantic comedy you don’t expect the opening scene to consist epic-heroic-drama-middle-ages-four-and-half-hours-long-some-chick-yowling-quite-moodily-inthe-background-type of score? You know what I mean? It is difficult explain but I had the feeling that this is not going to be a romantic comedy. Less than two minutes behind and we have already started off with the wrong foot. It also seemed like Senior Bachelor’s whole crew consists maybe five people. Jacob Stephen is also the producer, one of the actors named Tumaini Bigilimana wrote the script, cameraman Chidy Classic is also the editor and responsible for the music! Another actor Suleiman Said is a production manager. Oh boy… Senior Bachelor starts with some kind of argument at a cattle ranch. Jacob Stephen is arguing with cattle buyers about how many cows they want to buy. Why? No one explains.

They just argue and CUT. We are off to beautiful Dar es Salaam, filmed at night time. Jacob seems gotten lucky and is sleeping with some girl. Music is telling me to wait for something terrible. It is morning and the girl has left. Did she steal something since Jacob seems petrified? No idea, probably, music is still in the category of epic drama as we watch half naked Jacob to sit in bed and putting on his clothes. What a beautiful man.

And we are off to the streets of Dar. I am quite sure that this is going to be “small town boy makes something out of him in a big city.” But, first things first: fat man needs to eat. Heroic violin music is playing on the background as we follow Jacob eating two plates of rice and Fanta.


Then… ah you know what, fuck it. Only ten minutes have passed and I am not going to brief the whole god damn movie for you, dear readers, since it is probably as boring to read as it was to watch. Senior Bachelor is not a comedy it is a dreadful ass-numbingly boring rags-to-riches drama about a man called Erick. We find out his name maybe half an hour into the film. He does not have any money to pay for the rice and Fanta so he starts to work for the Mama from the DVD cover who owns the restaurant. They fell in love. Erick meets a man who sees potential in Erick’s way to scrub tables and serve soft drinks and introduces him to this guy.

He is supposed to be some kind of business man, shady one I suppose even though he looks like a part of Snoop Dogg's pimp entourage. Erick manages to make name for himself, adopts a last name Ford and now Erick Ford is one the richest man in the town, throwing around money like baboons throw away shit and piss. But there is a slight difference that all monkeys, including baboons, are tremendously funny. Likewise midgets. But there are no midgets or monkeys in Senior Bachelor, for shame! And as everyone knows money attracts bitches. Pictured below:

So Erick begins to date two different women besides the Mama, also in the cover. And as everyone knows, you cannot give too much money to poor people because that will turn them to assholes with no sense of self control or relativity. He is pissing away his money, banging a hair dresser of some sort, turning more despicable and arrogant motherfucker and just about when you think the movie is going to end, you get this:


Are you fucking kidding me? Part one was literally only the first half of the movie? WHAT. THE. FUCK. I remember when Quentin Tarantino was criticized for dividing Kill Bill in to two parts. Senior Bachelor’s first part was one hour and fifteen minutes long. Am I to suppose the second part is equally boring and long? Should I watch it? Part one cost 4000 shillings and since the salesman could not speak any English I am quite sure I paid at least 1000 shillings of mzungu-extra. I would really like to see also something else, like a comedy or action film but dare I leave the epic saga of Erick Bankrupt-American-car-brand unfinished?

Serious blog is serious

m8haje00 Kirjoittanut Jens Hattuniemi   blogissa Vyanzo - valkoisen pojan tarinoita Tansaniasta
Julkaistu 10.5.2011, klo 13:36

I have been in Tanzania for nearly three and a half months now and when I look back on all the blog posts I have made it seems like my life here is just constant partying, late nights, lots of booze and unprotected sex with strangers. But I work. I really do, cross my heart and hope to die! In this blog entry I would like to talk about work and working conditions here. So, I made a video about it.

So, there is Allison, Marije and Laura. Allison ja Marije are team leaders in Art In Tanzania. Back in our volunteer house they have a proper office but since the electricity and therefore Internet is out quite often down they come work our boss’ house, which is roughly half a kilometer away from the house. At the best times the office is a workplace for five to six people plus the boss. Now we have air condition but during February and March there were only the fans and the power cuts happened even here. So, there was a generator booming just outside of the office. Plus, people come and go, children are running around and at one point, like I said on the video, the sewer pipe next to the door was broken and room was filled with euphoric smell of piss and shit. Plus, there was some sewage water on the floor.

So, you can probably guess why most people hate coming to work here. If you are that type of person that needs peace and quiet to function while working, listen to me, this is not for you. Luckily, it is just the interns and team leaders who need Internet on permanent basis since volunteers go work mostly to schools with children.

My day begins when I get up around 7.30 am, eat breakfast and head to work around 8 o’clock. I come back around four or sometimes a bit earlier if I cannot do anything. I would not call myself busy in a way that I need to run around to gigs or interview people all the time. Most of the times, people of AIT are suggesting to me to what write about. It happened with the incredibly nice English couple, who asked me to translate the Finnish version of AIT’s website and write couple of interviews, articles and what not there. Then I met another team leader named Peppe who wanted me to write and edit a newsletter for past volunteers. It is now ready and you can check it from here. Also, I have been helping Bahari Beach’s James Dean with his Fair Trade project. If you remember the artist I wrote about, that was for his project. So, people have a tendency to give me chores all the time. Or like James Dean said: You are kind of like an errand boy around here. Well said.

And last but not least there is Fiesta.

 

 

I have told you about my colleague Isaya who is taking me to gigs like Gongo Lamboto and so on. In this issue three of my stories were published. Alongside with Gongo Lamboto was a story about local bar owner and Sauti za Busara. Also, I have made articles about volunteers, Royal Wedding (yeah, I do not get that one either) and my absolute favorite: MC HAMMER.

It was a quiet evening. I think I was sitting with Aleksi and Marije. And we were waiting our liefie (“darling” in dutch) to come home from work. Isaya texted me and said that he wants an article about MC Hammer. Well… god damn man, you stomped me. Are we talking about the same MC Hammer, the guy with weird trousers who has not been relevant to anyone’s interests in 20 years? Or… is there a Tanzanian artist who goes by the name of MC Hammer. That would be actually really cool. Go to Africa and meet MC Hammer. But no, it turned out that he just wanted an article about the American MC Hammer. So maybe one hour at Wikipedia and the article is finished. Did you know that Mr. Hammer is a priest nowadays?

Fiesta is… it is what it is. In Finland we have saying “sillisalaatti” which roughly translated means “herring salad” and means just an obscure mixture of everything. And that is exactly what Fiesta is. I know that when my friends back in Finland who are studying how to make a proper layout for a magazine they think the layout of Fiesta is the unholy seed spilled out of Satan’s veiny penis. And I cannot really deny that. It burns my eyes like chlamydia and I have no idea how that could look appealing to anyone. But then again, seven million flies cannot be wrong: shit has to be good! People buy Seiska and like Justin Bieber.

And of course, dear readers, this blog keeps me doing something else besides hanging around in bars. And it should really because it is the only thing here that actually earns me money. I have couple of ideas for stories that I could make in June and at least try to sell them to Oulu-based newspaper (toilet paper) Kaleva.

I have pondered that am I giving a bit too glamorous idea about my life in my blog. All the time I am writing about fantastic parties, restaurants and so on and so on. Like, I am not going to deny that, life here is great if you travel a little bit and you are white and you have money but you really need to work around here so you don’t get absolutely bored. Most of my local friends are currently looking for work or have menial jobs that do not really pay well. Besides the work, around Bahari Beach there are not that many activities. You can go to the beach and… yeah, mostly that and hang around in bars. Volunteers can read the books that former volunteers have left here but since about 80-90% of all volunteers are chicks you know what kind of literature I am talking about. The horror, the horror…

So, you mostly tend to hang around in bars, watching football and bullshitting some douchebag who is trying to bum some money for drinks and taxi. I usually claim that I am also broke too. And then I buy another beer. And these are just small local bars, nothing special but the pool table and television. And this goes on and on, day after day, week after week, month after month. You work, you hang around and go to sleep. And that is all. Well, not really, but I am trying to make a serious blog entry this time. I’ll promise that the next one is once again about deviant exploits with wine, women and song.

Getting around

m8haje00 Kirjoittanut Jens Hattuniemi   blogissa Vyanzo - valkoisen pojan tarinoita Tansaniasta
Julkaistu 4.5.2011, klo 11:19

There is a vast variety of transportation choices in Tanzania. Let’s start with your legs. If you are a healthy person, walking should not be an issue. Just prepare yourself with lots of water because even 30 minutes can be quite painful without your water bottle. Also, I have noticed that the heat actually makes you lazier. During the first couple of weeks I walked from Bahari Beach to Tegetta to withdraw some money from ATM. Roughly estimated it’s about two kilometers to one direction if I can read Google Maps properly. This takes maybe one hour all in all. When I came back with the money I thought to myself “Never again”. There is really no point to get sweaty (and not in a good way) just to get some money. So, when I need to get money my choice of transportation is motorcycle taxi, or as they call it here: “piki-pikis”.

 

 

Piki-pikis are wonderful inventions. They are cheap Chinese motorcycles and according to my sources the new ones cost maybe 1,5 million shillings which is about 750 euros. You can also buy used ones for 800 000 shillings or 400 euros. Piki-pikis are useful and personally I love the feeling of fresh air running through your hair. You can easily fit two people to a piki-piki, and then it is called mishkaki, what is a traditional meat cuisine, basically a meat stick, in Tanzania. I have also seen at least in one occasion three school children riding a piki-piki. Two in the back and one in the drivers lap.

Of course, nobody here uses a helmet or has any basic sense of self-protection. Most piki-piki –drivers are quite ruthless they swoop between the cars and they do not seem to have concept that what would happen if piki-piki crashed with a car. I also want you to pay notice that how fast they are going. Excatly, you cannot well it from the meter since they are broken abouf 95% of times

Piki-pikis are useful since the roads are usually blocked by traffic jams and as I said piki-pikis can swoop between the cars and you can get where ever you want way quicker than if you take dala-dala or bajaji.

Bajaji is kind of a mini cab. I really cannot explain it, so here is a photo.

Bajajis are made for 2-3 people but on one occasion we fitted six people plus the driver and driver’s friend to a bajaji. I fondly call this situation “kitimoto” which is another meat cuisine in Tanzania and in my humble opinion: food of the gods! Bajajis are a bit more practical during the rain season which is now here.

And last but not least: dala-dala. It is supposed to be a bus it is more of a van filled to the rim with people. It is also cheapest one of these three options and for quite obvious reasons. They are more uncomfortable, slower and hotter. But, I have to say that the same journey by dala-dala is way cheaper if you compare it to piki-piki or bajaji. For examble one way ticket to Mwenge, nearby market place from Bahari Beach is 400 shillings with dala-dala and about 5000 shillings for piki-piki and for three people 8000 shillings in bajaji. So you if you are working the center of Dar es Salaam and traveling everyday there like my friend here…

…you are going to take the dala-dala even though it makes you wake up 4 AM in the morning and you will be back on 9 PM in the evening. And you get the pleasant experience of having African mamas large behind directly in your face for absolutely free of charge!

 

 

Size might not matter, but the color does!

m8haje00 Kirjoittanut Jens Hattuniemi   blogissa Vyanzo - valkoisen pojan tarinoita Tansaniasta
Julkaistu 27.4.2011, klo 15:55

Truer words have never come out of the mouth of Bahari Beach’s James Dean. Last night… Oh, in case you are wondering why I am writing in English it is because my blog has vast international audience (I am looking at you Douwe) who did not want to read my blog through Google translator anymore and they were very persuasive about it. (By calling me an arrogant finish bastard, what is not far off). So buckle up, me is trying to make writings in England language.

But to continue, last night me and the second coming of James Dean were drinking, obviously. We were at a club, obviously, watching a band called Akudo Impact but that is not important. What is important is that there was a former minister of Tanzania’s government and according to my boss who probably knows these things he has served as a minister during five presidents. Quite distinctive career I would say. I tried to look him up on Tanzania’s parliament’s website but that is basically impossible since there are hundreds of members and I did not even catch his name properly.

But I love the huge contrast between us and the minister. Me and James Dean are both students, barely managing in Finland and definitely not crème de la crème of Finnish society. We’ll soon be, at least James Dean will be and maybe I win a lottery. But here we do not need to do anything but to be white and we are hanging out with ministers while watching dancers wiggling their bottoms. Here is video:

Also, about being white. I think comedian Louis CK summarized the matter painfully accurate:

And as I have wrote before. Everyone is trying to bullshit you because of the money and local girls love white guys because of money. They see a dollar sign and financially stable life. And if you have nice personality that is always a good thing. The reason why it is so easy for us to meet the crème de la crème of Tanzania’s society is because we are white. In two weeks I can spend as much money as a standard sized family of four or five makes here within a month. And many people live with less. I can spend 20 000 shillings just to a really nice Chinese food. That is 10 meals if you eat in a cheap local place. That is a lot. For example, in Finland you can get a pizza for 6-10 euros. I think in my home place the cheapest ones are about six euros. Think about the situation when someone can spend 60 euros to a dinner all the time.

Everyone knows that we have money more than the average Joe here and that is the reason why most people want to be friendly with us because that might come in handy in certain situations. Couple of times I have offered lunch for a local friend that has cost couple thousand shillings. That is maybe one or two euros. They always say that they are going to pay back but they will not. Okay, they might buy you a beer in a bar or offer a drink sometimes.

Still, it is genuinely nice feeling that you feel a bit special and not in a way that you are missing a chromosome. Like me and James Dean wondered: we are just couple of students from Finland, nothing special really, maybe a bit higher education but here we are hanging out with members of parliament, everyone wants to be your friend and is patting your back and even the lead singer of Akudo Impact is giving a shout out to you during his gig. Everyone likes attention. You feel like you are special. And not in the retarded way.

This all might sound a bit cynical but just think about. That is basic human interaction, I scratch your back and you scratch my back. That is how it goes in every country around the world, the one who has money makes the rules and everyone wants to be friends with the one who has money. My beloved history teacher from high school said that “Remember, in history, nobody does anything purely because of good will. There is always a secret motive.”

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