Saturday, January 2, 2010

working those ethnic connections pour la bonne annee

bonne année! (happy new years in french)

homemade indian food for lunch, homemade chinese for dinner - it's been a strange end of 2009/beginning of 2010. Everythings closed for the new year until monday, so ive been getting in touch with some contacts. A Columbia friend from Dubai put me in touch with his dad's business partner here (they run a big supermarket) who has been extremely kind and accomodating and introduced me to some other indian traders. Also, chinese people like to talk to me here, probably because they are bored or lonely since many don't speak french particularly well. One chinese store owner, with my same last name and from the same place as my dad who lived in Congo-Brazzaville (the country across the congo river) for over a decade, invites me over often for meals at his home with his little sister in law (who is my age so that is nice) and other chinese workers.

basically everyone ive met here speaks at least 3 languages, and over the last few days ive heard conversations in french, swahili, english, gujarati and hindi (india), lingala (more eastern congo), chinese, some local languages, and any combination of the above. my heads been getting a little muddled so now i just sound slow in any language besides english!

im starting surveys again mostly of congolese traders on tuesday when everything reopens with this guy from the university, Stéphane. i think im going to take a slightly different turn before - i want to look more at the connection or disconnect between economic activity and développement and dependence, since theres clearly alot going on here but prices of everything constantly fluctuate depending on the US dollar rate. i doubt the lehman brothers and other banks are even aware of how far the financial crisis reached.

on that note of american imperialism, top 40 songs are constantly blasting in stores, and i cant help but wonder what lady gaga or shakira would think about their music videos being received with 'wtf's from this corner of the congo...


  1. fascinating!

    Heard one news item about Congo today: volcano eruption in eastern Congo. I think it is not far from its troubled regions.

    be well, continue immersing, and have a great time!

    lots love.

  2. mwaka mpya mzuri! Love the blog, missing you, glad to hear things are good.
    Na upendo,

  3. hi mom, dont worry im very far from the volcano! thats good to know though, since there are no newspapers in lubumbashi so its really difficult to find out news. the lack of newspapers is really bizarre

  4. nice, cool blog
    No newspapers? that is mostly radio it seems