Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday in Kampala

Transportation terminology:
Boda boda (explained in previous posts): motorcycles/dirt bikes used like US taxis
Taxi: Bus/van that carries 12 passengers and travels on set routes around the city. Cheaper than boda bodas and special hires, but only usefully if traveling on predefined loop. Also must be caught and designated locations.
Special hire: like a boda boda except a car; drivers and passengers often exchange numbers so that you end up using the same couple of drivers each time
NOTE--none of these have meters, so the price is always discussed before riding

As expected, Sunday is a much calmer day in Kampala, though people are definitely still out and about. Today started with hymnals blaring through our room. We aren't entirely sure where the church is, but we can definitely hear them singing Hallelujah quite clearly. I thought it was nice, though I wish they would sing another word or tune or something. Nrupa was just annoyed. Apparently she doesn't like having her sleep interrupted, even in the name of God.

Our special hire driver picked us up promptly at 10am as we decided on the night before. We went to one of the 8 Baha'i temples in the entire world with one of the girls we met last night. It was amazing! The building is this small but beautiful structure perched atop a hill overlooking the city. It has 9-doors and a dome (standard on all Baha'i temples) to represent the different ways into the faith (doors) and the unification of the followers (dome). We were able to attend the service, which apparently was longer than usual because today was a holiday commemorating the day the Bahá'u'lláh acquired his first follower. The service was a mix of prayers given by the congregation and songs. I think the most interesting part was that no one officially leads the service. It is organized beforehand so members of the congregation are given prayers to read at certain times, but no one calls the participants up to the podium. The service merely flows along. It was kind of a nice change of pace. It put everyone at the same level rather than elevating some. I'm not sure if this is true, but it seems like this could represent the equality of all in the eyes of God. They don't have preachers or rabbis to relay the message of God; instead they all can access it equally.

We met some more people from dinner last night at the Kibera Country Club, a bourgeois hang out for expats and rich Ugandans. It was like being in a different world. Once our friends arrived, we left to go grocery shopping with them at a local market. There, three of us shared one of the juiciest pineapples I've ever tasted. The guy from whom we bought it cut it up with his gigantic knife and we all walked through the market dripping pineapple juice behind us. At the market we also saw avocados the size of my head and a plethora of beans, peas, and rice. I wanted to take a picture but I wasn't sure the stand owners would appreciate that. Nrupa managed to snap a clandestine one, so hopefully it turns out okay.

After the market we went back to Garden City, the shopping center we visited on Friday. We had some more good juice and sandwiches then decided to relax with a movie. After 3 days we already feel like we've been here forever, mostly because Kampala doesn't have too much to offer as a tourist destination. Thankfully we'll be leaving for Mbale in the next one or two days. We're excited to get settled in our house and start working. I know I thrive when I have a routine, so I'm looking forward to establishing one there.

After all our adventures today we were exhausted, so we came home and just ordered room service from the hotel. Unfortunately, it turned out to be quite disappointing. Nrupa's soup was over salted and my vegetable rice had chicken in it. Oh well. Hopefully TASO will feed us at our orientation tomorrow...

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