Sunday, May 16, 2010

Somebody call 911

Not because of any dire medical emergency (although I am developing a rather severe--and irritating--heat rash), but because Tori and I saw SEAN KINGSTON LIVE IN TANZANIA.

Bus ride to Dar es Salaam: ~$1
Hotel in Dar for the night: ~$11
Ticket to the Tanzanian Music Awards: not priceless! $10!!!

It's true, some things are priceless. I have to say, however, that the concert was substantially more satisfying knowing that I didn't run up a huge bill on my MasterCard.

Here's how it went down:

I was sitting in the living/dining room, minding my own business, when Sean Kingston came on the television.
Jimmy: "You know this artist?"
Me: "Yeah, he's really popular in the States."
Jimmy: "He is in Tanzania this week for the Tanzanian music awards. You want to go see him?"
Me: sarcastically "Hahaha. Sure."
Jimmy: missing my sarcasm "Okay, I call my friend from the Tanzania Music Awards. I get you tickets."
Me: shocked "You're kidding!?!?!"
Jimmy: on the phone [speaking Swahili]

And then, moments later, we handed him 15,000 TZS, AKA about ten bucks, and got tickets to see the Tanzanian Music Awards (sponsored by everyone's favorite beer, Kilimanjaro). Also, we got tickets two days before it happened! It was absolutely an incredible experience. Even better, we got to hear some of the Tanzanian artists we've heard on the radio all week live. I must say, despite any cultural differences that might divide America and Tanzania, concerts are a blast anywhere!

While we're talking about said concert, funniest quote thus far (and there have been a lot):

Me: "I can't wait to dance at the concert!"
Jimmy: "Tori, are you going to dance?"
Tori: "I don't think so... maybe... I don't know..."
Me: "Tori doesn't really dance. We'll have to apply peer pressure."
Jimmy: "We'll have to apply beer!"
Tori and I: die laughing
Jimmy: "What is funny?"

And now, to atone for my abuse of the already hackneyed credit card commercial (and my bragging about how cheap we got to see Sean Kingston), I'll talk about the fun cultural comparisons that keep you all coming back to read (in addition to my sparkling wit and melodic and prose, I mean).

Tori and I have been shocked to find that Tanzania operates on a different kind of time than America does. Yes, yes--we all know about the 7 hour time difference. But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about Africatime. This principle will confound physicists across the globe when Tori and I publish our ground breaking work. Read on for a prospectus of this exciting new field of study.

Difficult to define exactly, Africatime is the period between when everyone says something will start and when something actually starts. By difficult to define, I mean it varies by situation and sometimes does not apply at all.

The Tanzanian Music Awards, for example, began at 10. The tickets and posters, however, advertised 7:30 as the start time. So Tori and I showed up (guess when, being the Type As that we are) at 7:30. To an empty concert hall. Apparently everyone in Dar knew that the awards really started at 10 but us.

For another example, take the school. It's supposed to begin at 8 and end at 11. So what time do we leave for school? It varies from 7:30 to 8:15. What time do the kids' parents arrive to pick them up? Anywhere between 10:45 and 1:30 (generally closer to 1:30).

Often, Africatime doesn't apply at all. This morning, Jimmy told us to wake up at 7:30 to catch a bus back to Bagamoyo. Then, at 7:30 when we dutifully woke up, Jimmy knocked on our door and asked if we were ready to go.

Confused yet? We certainly are. We attempted to solve this variable time quandary with limited information at first. We assumed a linear relationship:

start time = advertised time + 30 minutes

However, the range of pick-up times from school quickly debunked our original hypothesis. And if that wasn't enough, our wake up call this morning seriously skewed all our ostensibly well-thought-out projections. We briefly considered a model tailored to fit each individual, but such an endeavor would demand resources we do not have and, moreover, Africatime is not always constant for each individual. At the moment, we expect a tremendously complicated equation, hopefully involving multiple integrals and at least one summation with an index k = 1 to infinity, will aid our well-intentioned but futile efforts to be on time by informing us when things actually start.

Joking aside, we really don't quite understand how when things start here. But, despite our frustration with an entropic sense of time, we're still eating lots of delicious food, sweating to death, playing with lots of children (usually counting games!), sweating a lot, learning Swahili as fast as our mental acuity will permit, and perpetually perspiring. Objective #1 today: buy a fan.

We really are having a wonderful time, though. Apologies for the logorrhea. I had a lot to say.

Miss you all!

Stay tuned for (I hope!) pictures in future posts!


  1. You're are making me Tanzania-sick... Not cool. Keep writing, and stay hydrated!

  2. What a great post!!! I got to see Busta Rhymes back in November in Dar. That show was 20,000 Tsh and Busta didn't come on stage until 1:30 am. I also see that you and Tori have gotten to experience first-hand some Jimmy-isms. I have a list of these somewhere. We'll have to compare sometime.

  3. Ok..I know I'm really really really late in writing comments (I did this on Katie's blog too..I wait and then read posts in bulk), but I chuckled through that entire post. Especially when I could hear Tori in my head talking about dancing. Hahaha...Miss you guys!