Thursday, August 5, 2010

Kenya’s Nancy Departs, Barbara’s Beacon Article, Ramadan

Yesterday, on August 4, Nancy, our temporary housemate from Kenya, left our home, creating quite a void. We appreciated her quick wit and sociability. Last week, I went to the graduation at GAO, where Nancy has been a fellow and where she gave the departing ceremony’s keynote address. As she said, and as those of us who have spent fair chunks of time abroad know, it’s hard to leave a place where we have made attachments, even while we still miss our home country and are anxious to return. I warned Nancy about reverse culture shock, even though she has only been in this country four months. Like other GAO fellows before her, she went home overloaded with luggage. After someone makes a trip to the US, all members of the extended family expect gifts. While she was in flight, Kenyans were going to the polls in a referendum on a new constitution that may help heal the political rift of two years ago.

My article about the Peace Corps, especially for older folks, came out in the August issue of the Beacon (p.30), a local monthly newspaper aimed at people over 50. Was also scheduled to record a radio appearance on the Canadian program the X Zone tonight, but there was a storm and their call to me did not go through, probably because of the storm, so the interview was cancelled. I was sitting by the phone waiting, meanwhile, they sent an e-mail saying I did not respond! Their loss as well as my own.

One blog reader comments on my last posting: Obviously Fidel has too many partisans to make it plausible for Raul to just march into his room, smother him with a pillow, and say "Adios, hermano." So what I'm wondering about is, suppose Raul goes first. Then, who?

Obviously, since Fidel has been hanging onto life against all odds, the possibility that he would survive his brother has certainly occurred to partisans of both Fidel and Raul, who must be jockeying for position themselves. But, in Cuba, that’s a dangerous and tricky business and, to my knowledge, no front-runners have emerged. If they did, they might be quickly slapped down and permanently demoted to a job cutting grass with a machete in public places.

The arrival of Ramadan puts me in mind of Muslims in the GAO program who have spent time in my house. Once, I tried observing Ramadan myself with a visitor from Yemen, going two days without eating or drinking during daylight, ending the fast with a date and glass of water. That ceremony and the feasting afterward was nice, but I found it hard to concentrate during the day, so, I abandoned the effort. However, I believe that if I had kept it up, then my internal clock would have gotten used to that eating schedule and it wouldn’t have been so difficult, but I didn’t have the patience to continue, to the disappointment of my Yemeni visitor, who also gave me a copy of the Koran in Arabic and English.

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