One of my classmates (who had worked in Kampala last summer) sent me long list of things to do while in Uganda. Among those were to eat as many pineapples and avocados as possible. And I’m thinking – right, tropical region + tropical fruits = delicious.
What an understatement.
The family with whom I’m staying brought me a pineapple this weekend. But not just any pineapple – although I imagine over here, it IS just any pineapple – but the most delicious pineapple I have ever tasted. A life-changing pineapple. A UGANDAN pineapple. You think I’m kidding about the life-changing part but MY WORD. It was like someone took all the goodness of pineapple, and condensed it, and then magically zapped those acidy, sour, stringy-crunchy qualities that pineapple is sometimes prone to, so that the good of the pineapple was intensified and the pineapple’s faults are gone.
Think you don’t like pineapple? You haven’t had a UGANDAN pineapple.
K, moving on. I promise I’ve done more in the last few days than eat fruit. In fact, today was the FIRST DAY of my internship at ILI. It was… well, I think I’ll just have to adjust to Ugandan time. Culture shock, what? The program was supposed to send a driver to pick me up, on my first day, at 8:30. Like a good U.S.-bred lady, I was ready to go at 8:20 – what, me, Ruchi, ready on time?!
Driver came at 9:15. ILI was hosting a training program that was supposed to begin at 9:00.
But other than this one minor hiccup, the projects are interesting, the view from the office is lovely, and the other interns and office staff are incredibly friendly.
What else – accents. Most everywhere I’ve traveled, I’ve been familiar with the accents, so it wasn’t AS difficult to me to adjust. But I’ve never heard many strong African accents. And it’d be fine as long as I’m paying attention, but it seems like Ugandans, while friendly, speak much more quietly than Americans. Conveniently, I have TERRIBLE hearing. And it’s hard to explain away my American insularity. (“I’m not ignorant, I promise, it’s not the accent, but I genuinely can’t hear what you’re saying! And maybe if I could, THEN I could tell you how unfamiliar it is!”)
But it’s so strange. I’m staying with an Indian family, in Kololo. So, while at home, I’m in India. Everyone speaks Kutchi, the little girl has a strong Indian accent (not unlike my sister’s when we were new immigrants), and the grandparents exclusively watch Indian television (omg the serials. I’m here for 3 days and I’m already concerned about WHAT HAPPENED TO KHUSHI’S HUSBAND.) In the evenings, we all watch cricket – the Mumbai Indians are in the top 4 for the Indian Premiere League.
In the office, I’m in Uganda. I’m a full-fleged American in East Africa, trying to learn what they never teach in schools. At home, I’m in India, breaking out my broken Kutchi, and eating dabeli and panipuri from the roadside stand with the other Gujju families (true story. Ugandans made the bhel puri.)
Goodness. Where am I?