Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thursday and Friday, May 27-28, 2010

These days nothing too exciting has been happening. We spend the morning "doing research," which for me was reading the news paper and talking on gchat...mostly to Nrupa because everyone in the US was still asleep. The afternoon, however, ended up being wonderful.

We had an impromptu meeting with the Regional Manager for the Eastern Region, whose office is in the TASO Mbale center. It turned out to be both informative and help make us friends. Then we met with the center director, Mr. Kimera, who, after a 1 hour tangent, helped us narrow down our project area. We still have to do some work to figure it out exactly, but we're going to be examining male involvement in HIV care. The specific terms are still to be determined, but I think we're going to look at ways to increase the number of male patients seeking care (currently ~70% of TASO Mbale clients are female) and their participation in family planning and PMTCT (prevention of mother to child transmission). Obviously it's still pretty vague, but he gave us something to think about that could actually be beneficial to them.

In the evening, we had our first major blackout. It started around 8 and the electricity was still off by the time we went to bed around 11. Good thing we bought candles!

As for interesting/amusing occurrences:

1) We attempted to go to the bank in the morning to get money to pay our landlord and it was disastrous. First, the ATM captured Nrupa's card because she took too long figuring out how much money she wanted to withdraw. Then I tried to take some out and I got a message that my issuer was unavailable. While Nrupa got her card back I went to a different bank down the street, but the maximum withdrawal limit is one-quarter what it is at the other bank, so it's not very efficient in terms of fee charging. It would be much better if I could get more money each time so that the cumulative fees are less. Considering that I have a huge US bank and Nrupa has just a tiny one local to DC, I'm not sure why hers will work and mine won't. Mom--you may have to call Wachovia for me because we have to pay the landlord tomorrow (Sunday) and I can't get any money out.

2) Our landlord was not as amused by these proceedings as we were. With the minimal amount of money I withdrew, we were able to scrounge up 3/4 of the first months rent. We have to pay him the rest of the balance for the entire summer (he likes getting it all up front) by tomorrow afternoon. We went back to the bank in the afternoon and Nrupa was able to take money out this time, but I still couldn't. We may need to find another bank with a high maximum.

3) Apparently my poor olfactory system is a good thing. Nrupa has been having an entirely different experience from me regarding smells. I guess there is a very distinct Ugandan BO that I just haven't been able to smell (which I'm not complaining about).

4) Our night guard, Tom, has the best laugh. It starts with a big grin, then turns into a slight chuckle as he bows his head, then laughs fully this kind of giggle/belly laugh. It's wonderful.

5) Last night we were talking with Tom and somehow religion came up. As I've mentioned before, 80-85% of Ugandans are Christian. So Tom asked Nrupa what religion she was and she replied Hindu. With a look of confusion, he asked her "What" and started naming religions for her to pick--Catholic, Protestant, born-again? Thankfully he didn't ask mine too, though since there's a small community of Ugandan Jews just outside of Mbale, he might have recognized it.

6) So far everyone we've met has this very distinctive way of speaking. They insert fill-in-the-blanks within their speech. For example, "We would like to find a way to get men more involved in what?. . . in antenatal care." It's like you're being quizzed during every conversation to make sure you're paying attention. Though usually there's only a very brief pause before the speaker fills in the blank him or herself.

7) Nrupa and I need to align our sleeping patterns or we're both going to be exhausted the entire summer. On the nights when I sleep well, she doesn't and vice versa.

8) There's an alarm at the house/office across the street from us that goes off EVERY MORNING. During the week it goes of at 6:43 and continues for about 20 minutes. Thankfully today (Saturday) it didn't go off until 8:30 so I was able to sleep in a little bit (or, I didn't hear it until 8:30 at least. Nrupa said it went off a little after 7). It often goes off in the afternoon/evening as well. If it continues, we might bring the issue up to the local council. Apparently they can do an investigation and, since this is a residential area, they can require that the alarm be stopped since it is disturbing people. Though we'd most likely have to get someone to present such a case on our behalf since we're muzungu.

9) It turns out that Nrupa's malaria-scare was beneficial for us. We ran in to the Doctor after work yesterday and were discussing weekend plans. He told us he was going to a friend's wedding and, after we mentioned how we were hoping to be able to go to one in the coming months, he asked if we would like to go one tomorrow (which is now today, Saturday). After assuring us that we wouldn't be crashing the party, he took our phone number so that he could call us with the details later. We haven't heard from him yet and it's 10:15 on Saturday morning, but we still have our fingers crossed...

Also, you people need to start writing some comments! Is anyone even reading this?


  1. yes, i'm reading...but i'm still waiting for my observations (you know what i'm talking about)!!!