I’m often asked what’s a normal day in Addis like? And to be honest, it feels like an oxymoron to put the word ‘normal’ and the word ‘Addis’ in the same sentence. Some ‘normal’ everyday things you can expect are the ladies out on the street selling corn everyday from 3pm without fail, blue and white minivan taxis ferrying passengers around the city with the conductor/assistant/spruiker hanging half out the window yelling the taxi’s destination to any passerby who might want to climb on board…because there’s always room for more people to squeeze in! A ‘normal’ day will almost always involve at least 5 kids running up to you and pointing and yelling ‘ferenji’ (white person), and asking for a high 5, and unfortunately sometimes money.
But without fail every day will include some random event. Take today for example, it started when I woke up to these 3 friendly donkeys in my yard:
Soon after this moment, when I was on the way to grab some lunch at a nearby cafe, one of the shoe shining boys on my corner who I have a little laugh with each morning about the state of my muddy boots, declared he loved me! For many ferenji girls this isn’t such a rare occurrence, quite often men will yell out ‘hello’, ‘are you fine’, ‘will you marry me’ (always in that order and obviously the natural progression for a conversation and courtship around these parts)! Flattering at first. Just plain annoying after the 5th time. One guy recently professed his love for me (after 5mins of talking with me on the street) and then backed it up with, ‘…actually I just want to marry a foreign girl’…yep, he was a real charmer!
Moving on from the morning confessions of love, in the afternoon a couple of friends mentioned they were off to see an art exhibit in one of the city gardens. So off we set in search of these gardens. Walking into the gates of the garden reminded me of Ceres, a community garden space in Melbourne. There were bizarre sculptures scattered throughout the gardens and the hippest looking Ethiopian’s I’ve spotted yet.
And then out of nowhere this dude appeared from the gardens playing a didgeridoo! Which was quite a surprise for this Aussie. I only knew about the eucalyptus trees and horses that Ethiopia inherited from Australia.
So who knows what the evening will bring but everyday there’s a new and random scene to witness, and sometimes, it’s every few hours. I must admit, this randomness is part of what I like most about being in this city and country.
So here’s a few more random moments that I’ve encountered and some of which I’ve managed to get a snapshot of:
Every morning I will pass by a guy walking the neighbourhood streets selling brooms and mops. And everyday I will inevitably be asked if I would like to buy one. He will be baffled by my decline to buy a new broom or mop each day, but clearly there is a demand for this, given there is a home delivery service catering to the market.
(Note the quirky tax dept advertising in the background).
Oh and I have an awesome broom joke to compliment this story, but you’ll have to read on to find out what it is…
Then there was the weirdest and funniest yoga class of my life. I was waiting in the yoga studio for the teacher to arrive, alone. It was already 10 minutes after the class was due to start and I was feeling a bit concerned why there was no one else attending this class. Then when the instructor walked, or should I say, swaggered in the room I knew why I was the only person there. He was wearing short basketball shorts, no top and a black silky robe! Hmmm, this was going to be interesting. Then 2 Ethiopian middle aged guys arrived and went and sat (on the same mat) at the back of the room. This was weird. Very weird. The room was about 50m long, with myself and the ‘guru’ up the front and these two guys just sitting on a mat at the back. The slick yoga guru carried on with the class and would repeatingly demand us to ‘breaaaaathe in, breath out’. This was pretty much all he said, and he would say it so quickly I barely had enough time to breathe in before I was supposed to breathe out. He would have us (well, me) do a relatively easy pose and then all of a sudden transition into a really advanced move! This was not my kinda easy going yoga. But entertaining all the same. I stuck it out but haven’t returned since. Although I kinda wanna go back just to get a photo of him for this post…
Then theres the book guy near my house that I previously mentioned I couldn’t even crack a smile from. Well, there has been progress with this situation. Rapid progress! I broke the ice by stopping and chatting with him one day about his books (thanks for the advice Melissa). There were a lot of maths and science books and my knowledge in this area is somewhat (ok, alot) limited and I knew I couldn’t really hold a conversation on these topics! But luckily he mentioned he could get an Amharic language book for me if I liked. The next day he had it waiting for me! And now we’re like besties. We share big waves and the long winded greetings each morning and night on my way to and from work. But things took a little turn last week when he said he will escort me to work and teach me Amharic on the way…what is it with men offering to escort me places??
And finally, here’s a selection of shots from other random moments:
Fake palm trees line the streets of one of Addis’ ‘glitzy’ suburbs…
I also recommend these 2 gems from the Internet:
A man dinking/doubling/giving a lift to a goat whilst riding his bike – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX41Vzfda1Y
Crazy Addis driving, which somehow works – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RD7Q8UxDY5g
And finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for – the broom joke:
why was the broom late?
~ because it over swept!
Until next post,