So, I know I've mentioned this before, but I just needed to restate how much I hate the subject of money in Uganda. Anything having to do with money is so awkward because it always involves someone asking me for some. Two recent examples:
1) Yesterday morning, mine and Nrupa's go-to boda driver, Robert, asked us for 20,000/= for his kid who is apparently sick (we didn't even know he had a kid--he's 26, though most people that age probably do have kids). Though 20,000 shillings is not much money (about $10), it's the principle of the matter that is more important. First of all, we haven't known Robert very long. At home, it's often uncomfortable asking even one of your closest friends to borrow money, but here such social restraints don't exist. I'm sure Robert asked us for money before he would ever have asked his friends or family because he assumes that we have it, where as others don't. Obviously, we do have $10 and, if he seriously needs it for a sick child, are willing to help, but we don't want to set a precedent whereby he thinks a) it's okay to ask us for money and/or b) that we will give it to him. We're going to wait until he brings it up again (which I'm assuming will be tomorrow morning as he even called both me and Nrupa while we were out of town this weekend) and we're going to offer him a proposition. He told us he would repay the money plus interest, but we're not going to take his word on that. Instead we're going to tell him that we'll give him the money in exchange for 20 boda rides, each of which costs 1,000/=, and we'll give it to him in two parts. He won't get the second 10,000/= until we've received 10 boda rides. I'm going to let Nrupa do the talking because she's better at dealing with these things.
2) The World Cup is on, which is a time for celebration and excitement. As we don't have a TV, I've been having to find other places to watch it (which is not a problem at all. Every TV in Uganda is tuned to Super Sport (the TV channel) during games). Tonight, I went to Mbale Resort, which is just down the street from our house, to watch the game. I was hoping to go alone, but our night guard, Tom, wanted to watch the game as well so we went together. We were essentially sitting at a bar so I felt that I had to order a drink. Both Tom and I ordered pop. At halftime, I decided to leave to go to bed. I went to the counter to pay for my pop. While I was waiting for my change, Tom said something to our waitress, who then came over and asked me whether I was paying for just my drink or for both. I said just mine, which she reported back to Tom. He had a very disgruntled look on his face and as I left he didn't really say anything to me. If we had left at the same time, I was going to offer to pay for his drink, but only if he attempted to pay for it first. I hate the assumption that since I'm muzungu, I'm obviously going to pay. At home, there's usually an argument over the bill. Here, so far as I've experienced (outside of TASO), if you're with a muzungu, the muzungu pays. No discussion needed, even if the muzungu doesn't agree with this decision. First of all, I didn't even invite Tom to go with me. He actually asked Nrupa if I was going to watch the game at the Resort because he was planning on doing so, then waited for me to walk there. Secondly, I never offered to pay for his drink or said that I was going to. If he doesn't have the money for it, he shouldn't have ordered it! This is actually a recurring problem with Tom. It seems that every day he has something new he wants us to buy or something for which we need to give him money. One day it was a trash can, even though all of our trash just goes in a pit in the backyard. The next it was a TV so that we could give it to him when we leave (even though he has a TV with a satellite dish at his house). Today it was money to sharpen his machete that he uses to cut we don't even know what. Apparently it's something on our property, but we've never actually seen him engaged in this alleged cutting. And the thing is that I was willing to pay for his drink this once, but I was afraid that if I did he would assume that I was going to pay for it every time we go to the Resort. Given that the Cup just started and lasts a month, I was not willing to set that precedent. Oh well. I don't think he likes me much anyway, so this will just reaffirm his feelings.
Updates about last week/weekend are forthcoming.