Friday, November 25, 2005

Maria - The World 1-0

I'm a wild one! The two past weeks has been party, party and party. That's not why I came to Sudan! But what to do when there is nothing else to do? I'm starting to get sick of this thing with the job with AHA and Swera. They say they're still negotiating about my possible future employment, but if I haven't heard anything else about it in a week, then I'll start looking for something else. I just can't wait for too long. I'm thinking of going to Darfur or Juba in January or something like that if I can't find a payed job in Khartoum. I'd rather stay here and travel around a bit, but I'm prepared to take almost anything. One thing's for sure, I will not leave Sudan until I've had a job for at least a couple of months, so if you miss me you can always contact everyone you know in Khartoum and say that there is a really pretty, nice and competent Swedish girl who is just HUNGERING for new challenges! ; )

A few nights ago I was standing out in the street waiting for a raksha, when a taxi stopped and started to talk to me. I was too tired to care, but the more I think about it now, the more angry I get. I'm not married, but I've found it convenient to tell people that I am since most men respect a married woman more than if she's single. The conversation went something like this:

Taxi Driver: Hello, where are you going?
Me: To see friends
Taxi Driver: Okay, get in
He unlocks the door
Me: Thanks but I’m waiting for my friends
Taxi Driver: When are they coming?
Me: Any minute
Taxi Driver: I want to be your friend
Me: Thanks, but I’ve got enough friends
Taxi Driver: But you wouldn`t regret it!
Me: I’m sure, but no thanks
Taxi Driver: But why?
Me: Because I get these requests ten times every day by different guys
Taxi Driver: Really?!
Me: Yes
Taxi Driver: But I’m not like the other guys!
Me: Yeah, that’s what they always say
Taxi Driver: So are you going to see your boyfriend?
Me: No, I don’t have a boyfriend. I’m married.
Taxi Driver: No you’re not
Me: Yes I am. My husband lives right over there
Taxi Driver: Oh, but white women have many boyfriends even if they’re married
Me: Uhm… no…
Taxi Driver: Yes, I’ve seen it in the movies!
Me: Well, movies don’t always represent the reality.
Taxi Driver: Really???
And now he's genuinelly surprised
Me: Yes, really
Taxi Driver: But at parties you kiss other men!
Me: No…
Taxi Driver: No?
Me: No
Taxi Driver: Oh.. so if you’re married…
Me: …you stick to your husband
Taxi Driver: But you’re not married
Me: Yes I am, he lives right over there
Taxi Driver: Why are you not with him?
Me: Because I’m going to see friends
Taxi Driver: Boyfriends?
Me: No, I said I’m married
Taxi Driver: Oh
Me: Yeah, oh
Taxi Driver: Do you have kids?
Me: No, not yet
Taxi Driver: Not yet.. are you newly married?
Me: Yes
Taxi Driver: Ok… good bye
Me: Bye

And that was of course not the first time that I heard about Sudanese people's ideas about western women. In their eyes we are easy and will have sex with anyone, anytime, with or withou boyfriend/husband. But to have it thrown into my face like that and that he actually expected me to get into the car with him was just too much. Apparently there has been a little bit too many assault on western women in my area lately, mugging and rapes (which I nicely had to experience myself last week when three men blocked my way and started to get violent before I managed to slap one of them and get away from there). From now on, I'm not walking alone after midnight.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And Suddenly...

...Everything feels a little bit better! I've started to settle, once again. Things are going a bit better with my employer (but I still plan to leave the house as soon as I get a payed job) and thanks to the upcoming winter I don't die from heast exhaustion as soon as I leave the house.

And hey, I think I've managed to leave many problems behind me and be able to concentrate more on my life and my mission (saving the world and all that). I'm fine again so don't worry. I'm having a great time!

Last Thursday I drove a car in Khartoum for the first time and that was an experience I will not soon forgegt. In Sweden we have trafic rules, as in most other countries. But not in Sudan. The only rule they apply here is to honk and drive and hope for the best. Luckily there wasn't too much trafic on my virgin trip so me and my passengers made it out unharmed. We got to a big party in Khartoum II where we mingled for a while before the police came and stormed the place, took all the alcohol that was left (pleased with that I can only pressume...) and turned the music off. For a while we were locked in since the police were looking for any Sudanese, but nothing serious happened. The police usually leave foreigners out of it because they don't want to get mixed up in international business, but a Sudanese who gets caught with alcohol can probably look forward to a couple of nights in a not so nice prison. Luckily, my Sudanese friends made it out unharmed.

Me and Alberto were supposed to go to the pyramids last Friday, but that never happened. So instead, me, him and Alessandra went to Omdurman (the old Mahdi capital) to have a look at the whirling dervishes. Every Friday they gather in their mosque and leave from there to a big field where they play drums and recite "la illaha ilallah" (there is no God but God) until they reach trance. This trance is supposed to open up a your heart so that you can have direct contact with God. Some people flip out completely and whirls around and around and around until they almost fall down. Unlike most muslims, the sufi's are dressed in clear red, green and yellow, plus that most of them are wearing dreadlocks, which made me feel like being in some kind of rastafari festival where everyone was flying high. Since it was the first Friday of Ramadan, we were honored to see the sufi leader of Sudan at the gathering. He was a fun man dressed in a clownish hat in bright colours and bells.

We had our first inoficiall feminist meeting, which was interesting. We will have help from a juridics student and a gender professor, among others. Our first goal is to talk to a couple of the more liberal imams and ask them preach equality in the mosque. A sudanese man will take this on. I doubt that an imam would even talk about feminism/equality with a khawajia. Instead we will do it nice and easilly and promote everything that's about equality in the quran.

Except this, not much else has happened. Have mostly been hanging out with Alberto, drunk sweet tea with mint and smoked sheesha.

Saturday, November 5, 2005

Eid Mubarak!

So, there's been some problems lately. I got some problems with my employer and have started to look for another job. Swera finally contacted me again and now I'm their volunteer liaison officer, but will probably be employed by AHA since Swera doesn't have any status in Sudan yet. AHA wanted me to come to Darfur with them, but I don't have that much freedom in the family where I love now and I doubt if my present employer would agree.

Ramadan is finally over and now people have started to eat and drink and do everything else "forbidden" again. Now is eid however, Sudan's mostly celebrated holiday, with parties and family gatherings and all happiness. A little bit like christmas really.

Björn, Alessandra, me and Alberto
I've been to a couple of souqs, a barbeque party and hung out with Björn, Alessandra and Alberto. Today we went to Souq Omdurman and tried to find Alberto a cheap bike, but it was too expensive. Instead we went to Mograin Family Park where it was crowded with eid-celebrating people. We enjoyed watching people and then went back home.

I've been missing Sweden a lot lately, probably because of all the shit going on with my employer and all. A couple of days I was really close to rebook my flight ticket and come back home, but I luckily changed my mind. I mean... what do I have to do in Sweden in the middle of winter when i can be in Africa, get experiences, hang out with loads of wonderful and interesting people and "enjoy" the killing rays of the sun. So, even though things feel like crap at the moment, I believe I will stay for a while longer. Especially if I get that job with the AHA.

The ghosts in the house has stopped harassing me. They're still there, but the poking has stopped. Maybe my craziness is going away : )