Making Friends

Making friends with a little local guy

Making friends with a little local guy


This little guy was shy at first, but then started talking to us more and in the end, just opened his arms and demanded that I pick him up – which I did. Young children, no matter how rich or poor, are a living lesson on how to live our lives.

A Dude Goes to a National Park…

Discovering local humor has been a fascinating experience. Swahili conversations that I overhear are full of laughter, and it seems like people are cracking jokes all the time. In a business dinner a couple of weeks ago, I was part of a group that counted about ten Tanzanians and another mzungu (foreigner) apart from me. One of sales managers was talking with great animation and everyone else was dying with laughter. The translations of the jokes, done for the benefit of us non-Swahili speakers, left us deeply perplexed. Read more to discover hilarious Tanzanian jokes

Tanzanian Mentality

One of the most powerful reasons to travel is to learn about new cultures. Yet, I usually find myself very reluctant to answer questions like “How are Hungarians different from Belarussians?” or “What are people like in US?” because there are different people everywhere and I generally dislike generalizations. With that in mind, I wanted to jot down my fresh impressions about the Tanzanian mentality – yet another white person’s attempt to make sense of a culture different from their own.

My mostly Dar-based business interactions have been very pleasant, with people cheerful, friendly, and co-operative. Communicating and coming to a common agreement seemed very easy – deceivingly so, for I soon discovered the so-called “Tanzanian aspirational present tense”. This term, coined by fellow volunteer consultants, refers to an experience of having a conversation with someone, using English present tense, and realizing at a much later point in conversation (or after it) that the facts discussed were aspirations as opposed to actual events and your understanding of the current situation is way off mark. This attitude towards reality also applies to the future – I almost never hear actual “no, I can’t” or “no, it’s not possible”, and commitments are dropped surprisingly easily.

A smile or a laugh is the answer here to many questions, and many times this is what you’ll hear instead of “I don’t know”, “I disagree”, “I won’t do it” or “Sorry, I did not do it”. It is pleasant to be around people who seemingly endorse the “hamna shida” attitude (the proper Swahili way to say “no problem”, as opposed to the Kenyan variant “hakuna matata”), but is frustrating to get anything done.

Life in Dar es Salaam: One-Month Update

I arrived in Dar es Salaam exactly a month ago, on July 4th. I stepped out into a steamy night and made my first steps on the African continent, ready for the adventure to begin… Fast forward, and four weeks flew by in a flash, packed with new people, places and experiences. Here is the summary of my first month in Africa.

Work

The pace has been quite relaxed, with work-life balance finally a reality. It contrasts strongly with the frenzy-filled, charged atmosphere at my previous office in U.S. Continue reading