After more than 3 months of pretty much rain every day, we are finally getting some sun. It’s also a New Year here, since September 12 (because of leap year), we are in 2004 Ethiopian calendar. I was away for 6 weeks and while I missed my dogs and my friends (and the shiro), I certainly didn’t miss the weather. The first week I got back I immediately got a cold and had to ask my mother to send more cold remedies and an extra woolen cardigan and socks. The socks and cardigan arrived yesterday, and they are keeping my feet warm as I am writing this, but I have to express my gratitude the to the “weather man” as we’ve been having sunny weather since Monday.
At university things are happening very slowly, in fact, as expected registration has been postponed for a week, and classes won’t start until October. In fact it seems all schools, every primary ones, are starting with a 3 week delay. In that spirit, the university also only just started painting classrooms and repairing ceilings in the corridors, to the point that for the last three days, I needed a shield to get through all the water and cement throwing in front of my office. On a more positive note, we have magically found toner for the printer and photocopying machine, so I even managed to get some papers printed out.
I also renewed my residence permit, which was extremely easy this time. Once you know what you are doing and if you work for a ‘reputable’ government institution like AAU, it is a piece of cake. They even had my photo saved in the computer, so all my effort to get dressed up and look nice on my new ID photo were in vain (I still look like a startled hostage).
As it is a New year, it calls for New year’s resolutions. Mine is to learn Amharic properly (or at least better). I am fed up with my habesha version of Me Tarzan, you Jane. While some of my friends console me, saying that there are farenjis who’ve been living here for more than 3 years and speak much less than I do, I cannot accept that as an excuse. As one of my acquaintances said the other day, you’ve been here one year, and still it is tinish tinish (small, small). He said it in Amharic, and I understood what he said, but all I could say was, ‘ikrtay’ (sorry). So the resolution has a solution: I will be taking an intensive 6 week course, 4 hours a day with hope that it will yield proper results. I am a polyglot after all ;-), so I should be able to learn this language if I set my mind to it.
Another resolution is related to the usual fitness routines. I want to get back to my yoga practice, but it is so freezing in the morning, that a 6 AM ashtanga in sth 16 degrees celsius seems impossible. So I am doing the next best thing and going for a weekend yoga retreat in Debre Libanos. I thought of swimming and just as I found a nice pool, not to far away from my house, with decent rates and not too crowded, they closed it down for maintenance and it has been closed for 4 days. In the end, I simply go to sauna and steam room and occasional massage. I am sure that is also good for something, right?
A final resolution has to do with reading. I love reading fiction, but the only real time I have for it is during my holiday on a remote Croatian island, where all I do is read, swim and rest. The rest of the year I barely make time. The resolution this year is that I will dedicate 4 hours a week to reading a book of fiction. And I have been quite good since I got back to Addis. Having no TV helps and the poor internet connection is also an incentive. I have finished the amazing epic Cutting for stone by Abraham Verghese. I can’t remember the last time I was so moved by a book. And now I am reading Teju Cole’s Open city. I am sticking to my Africa related reading list and still have plenty of books on my shelf for my weekly reading. I thought of posting a list of all the books I still have on my shelf, but I need to go and do some work now.