Monday, June 9, 2008

Random notes

The other day a group of policemen crossed the street in front of our cars. I was idly watching them go by, and I guess they didn't like it -- one of them glared at me and pulled a mock salute, and they all laughed.

The women here wear really old fashioned clothes, and like to coordinate their colors. Just now I saw three women go by in long skirts and blouses: one with a dark blue skirt and a light blue blouse, one with a dark green skirt and a light green blouse, and one with a dark peach skirt and a light peach blouse. Sometimes they wear little sweater vests, in which case skirt vest shirt are all coordinated that way. They look like walking swatches.

People here sell everything. You see groups of men walking right in traffic along busy roads, displaying their goods to stopped cars. Yesterday three men came up to our car at a stop light, selling mops and brooms, potted plants, potatoes, and framed samples of African fabric.

Also, everywhere I go shady looking men try to get me to change money at terrible, terrible rates -- US$1 to Z$100 million, even though the actual rate is approaching US$1 to Z$1 billion. When they want to change money, they hiss through their teeth and rub their fingers together as you walk by, or else they say things like "Excuse me! Excuse! I want to call you sir! I buy you some dollars!" Sometimes people spot me from a block away and come running through traffic to try and sell me random things, like watch batteries or toothpaste.

Just had a weird conversation with David in the office. He claims that he wants a white girlfriend, because he wants someone who can "point me in the direction of the ideal." He had to run to a meeting, so I didn't get to ask him about this at length, but as far as I can gather he wants a white girlfriend because Tony Blaire and Bill Clinton both stepped down when their terms finished without waging civil war.

I overhear some disturbing conversations here in the office. A small sample: just now some guy came in to talk to Dzimbabwe. As often happens, they were talking mostly in Shona, with a few English phrases tossed in here and there. So I hear "chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter and now it is heard that the man is in political exile." Then, laughter all around.

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