Tuesday, June 23, 2009

雨过天晴


我很开心地宣布:雨过天晴罗!

经过四天彻底的休息,加上各位朋友们超级温馨地鼓励,我终于走出了想家的阴霾。现在的我,很开心地以全新的眼睛享受世界的美,和人生的美好。比利时的维森说:“要积极迎向人生的每一个机会,要从每件事中看到正面!”新加坡的静雅说:“当下就是你所拥有的一切,而不是你心目中的想象。”我也翻读了朋友写给我的纸条,也察看了部落格朋友的留言。句子字字,只言片语,很简单,但对此时的我,意义特别深远。

我想,追根究底,自己最大的障碍,就是自己的“应该”心态吧。我一直在认为这个情况应该是那样那样的,而不是这样这样的。我应该是开心的,而不是烦恼的。我应该是享受的,而不是痛苦的。我应该更享受这里的,而不是这么忙碌的。种种应该,遮蔽了我的心灵,让我根本看不到自己现有的一切。一直到荷兰的约瑟来到我家,大声惊叹说我的家太好了。我才突然发现,自己一直往上比较的心态,让我完全无视到我家的可爱,而一直让我觉得好痛苦。我比较错了。我不应该因为看到更有钱的人家的所有而难过,而要因为看到更不幸的人家的没有而感到幸运。哎呀我的“应该”心态又出现了。去去去!星期六,我在写日记的时候,一面把家里每个角落重看了一遍。我发现自己的家其实真的很美好,以它自己的方式美好。我的工作,以它自己的形式忙碌的美好,很法语的美好。这样,就够了。现在,就很美好。

上个周末,我给自己放了假,彻彻底底地去享受雅温得的生活。星期五,理查带我我去闻名已久的摩科罗市场找了裁缝裁了两件非洲衣裳,让我正是看到市场的热闹和复杂。之后,布亚的丹尼尔来探望我,我和他以走路的方式看了好多地方。

星期六,我宣布独立,自己搭车到动物园去看动物。路上的人都很好,在我没问他们之前就帮我指引方向了。在动物园,我不出意料地被搭讪了,而且被搭了一整个游动物园的时光。但是,我很享受自己很诚实地拒绝人的经验,既不撒谎也不给假的承诺。之后有社团活动,天黑之后我自己走路回家,非常有成就感。

星期天,我又走路过一个山头去找新来的实习生,然后带她去城市走走。之后是在公园草地上的实习生反馈会,大家谈着谈着从中了解了一堆文化差异而产生的误会。反馈到一半有一群人想和我们这群白人录影。再之后大家去全市最好的面包店聊天吃面包。惬意。

星期一,我去找艾薇怡,她花了一整天的时间帮我弄了一整头两百一十个小辫子。我现在头上混着一堆的假发,加上最近变黑的肤色,应该比较像个非洲小女孩了吧。走在街上,希望会有更少人察觉得出我不是本地人。下两个星期都不用洗头了。崭新的体验。

明天,又能好好投入新的挑战了。

雨过天晴了。心情美美的。我回顾六个星期前的自己,我开始感受到自己不同了。好像什么东西在改变了。我常告诉别人出国实习会改变一个人的一生,我开始相信了。

介绍。。全新的我!

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5 rustlings

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

My closest encounter with con men


I went to visit some banks today for company meetings. After that, I waited for a taxi to go back. Standard routine.

A taxi came to me and I said my address 'La Gare de Bessengue', the driver honked, a sign of acceptance. The taxi had 2 other passengers, both males. The first thing I entered, I realised that the taxi does not have a tag. Oh careless me how come I forgot to check for this before I enter? It is always good practice to ensure that the taxis I take are licensed. But well, let's just be for this time. I carefully looked at the path the driver was taking, just to be sure he's taking the normal route.

Halfway, one passenger who was seated in the front, Mr. Skinny, spoke in English but the driver couldn't understand him, and asked me to help translate. But the second passenger who was sitting beside me, Mr. Fat, helped to translate instead. Mr. Skinny just came off from the airport, and his European brother gave the taxi driver 5000F to take him to the blind centre. He comes from the Vatican City and is going to the blind centre to give them blessings. The taxi driver said that the blind centre is in Yaounde not Douala, and Yaounde is 200km away. Mr. Skinny exclaimed and asked the driver to take him back to the airport after dropping all of us so that he can take another flight to Yaounde. "Money is no problem for me," said Mr. Skinny.

Then, he turned to thank me and Mr. Fat for the translation, and offered us some money for the service. Mr. Fat said no we will not accept it, and I quickly agreed. Mr. Skinny then said he will pray for us instead. So he took the hand of Mr. Fat and mine, and performed some prayer. He then asked us for paper, which the driver gave. He gave Mr. Fat and I each a piece, and asked us to put all our money in, and he will pray that our wealth will increase. Mr. Fat quickly used it to wrap a paper-wrapped bunch, and some loose cash notes. I wrapped it with my 200F (around RM1.60) taxi money. Mr. Skinny prayed for Mr. Fat, and asked him to keep his money in his pocket. He then took mine. When he was about to pray, he frowned.
Mr. Skinny: That can't be all your money.
Me: That's all I have.
Mr. Skinny: C'mon. You should take out all your money so that I can pray for you.
Me: I only had these much for today.
Mr. Skinny: Where are the rest of your money?
Me: They are at home.
Mr. Skinny: Who do you stay with?
Me: My husband.
Mr. Skinny: Is your husband at home now?
Me: No he's working.

(All along, Mr. Fat was doing translation for me into French, which I have repeatedly told him I understand English.)

Mr. Skinny finally performed his blessing for me, and returned me my paper and money.

Mr. Skinny: When we get to your house, I will bless all your money for you.
Me: Ok.
Mr. Skinny: Who are in your home?
Me: My friends.
Mr. Skinny: You know, I don't need a lot of people to gather for me. Just bring out all your money, and I will pray for you.
Me: No it's ok.
Mr. Skinny: Why not?
Me: It's really ok.
Mr. Skinny: You are not bringing out your money?
Me: No.
Mr. Skinny: Why not?
Me: Because I don't need your blessings. Your blessing now is good enough.

By then, the taxi has thankfully arrived at La Gare de Bessengue. I took out the 200F from the paper wrap, gave it to the driver and walked off. This was truly a funny episode, and I have no idea what that weird Vatican man is doing.

When I reached the MC house, I showed the paper to Belinda, and I told her that this was given by a man who claimed he comes from Vatican. Immediately, Belinda looked really concerned. She asked me to check if my handphone is still around, as well as my other valuables. I checked. They are all there. Belinda told me that this is a con, all people in the taxi are one gang of con men together. The MCs started going into their own recounts of the various con incidents they have encountered.

As I was listening, I was like phew! I am so glad that nothing happened to me eventually. Because, though I felt that the situation was weird, I did not diagnose that they were all con men together. I did not realise how close I was with danger. Very luckily, nothing bad has happened to me, except a weird taxi ride. Better still, the sharing and joking of the story has healed my homesickness by a lot. Immediately after the laugh off, I felt so much better now, that I am smart and I have saved myself.

Weirdly, these con men have made my day. But it's definitely been a close brush with danger.

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4 rustlings

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Homesick


Zejun said it's not normal not to feel homesick when you are away so far away for so long. I guess my homesick episode has arrived.

I was at Bamenda, a cool city in the northeast province. It was at night, we were in a taxi, it was raining.

And all of a sudden.

I miss home.

I miss my friends.

I miss the familiarity.

I miss not needing to stuggle and fight everyday.

I was sick again last Thursday. Fever coupled with chills, flu mixed with cough, complemented with headache, muscle and joint ache. I was so sick to the point I had to go hospital. But the doctor just prescribed me with medicine, so I guess it's nothing too serious. But that made me lie dead on the bed for 2 days 2 nights, and gave me a weak body and possibly weak soul.

The scenery around me is really stunning. Beautiful mountaineous greenery scattered with small farming houses and capped with fluffy clouds. But all I could feel is pain and homesickness.

I am once again, painfully counting down to the number of days to go home. I guess if my boss offers me the opportunity to terminate my internship and let me go home now, I will take it up without a doubt.

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1 rustlings

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

活下去


山不转路转,路不转人转,人不转心转。此话果然不错。

昨天,当我再次回到家的时候,虽然一切都还一样,但我的看法已经换了千山万水。当我在厨房装水,然后把水扛到厕所去时,虽然水重得可以弄断我的手指,但我居然听见自己对自己说:“这就是如假包换的非洲生活!”我很聪明地发明了挂衣的方法。我把自己的睡裤裤带打一个结,把结挂在铁钉上,这样我就可以在裤子上放完其他的衣服!那唯一的钉子太小了,根本挂不上几件衣。然后,我把洗好的衣服挂在废弃的花洒的开关上。冲凉的时候会一直传来旁边马桶阵阵的异味。我共提了两桶水去冲凉。冲完之后,居然还剩了半桶。真省水。

我的房间今天亮灯了。又是一盏小黄。收留我的Richard帮我换了灯。傍晚跟我同睡的Beatrice一回来,喊了我一声:“Ma copine! (我的朋友!)亲切得让我突然好感动。她问我吃了没。我说我应该在外面吃吗?她说不是,你回来吃。晚餐时她弄的。前天吃芋头、菜和牛肉,今天吃香蕉和辣椒牛肉。都很好吃。只是分量有一点大。我跟她说了。后来爸爸吃饭时,我跟他说了一声:“Bon apetite!”他听得好开心。晚上,我就在他们的客厅写日记。写完之后我在床上用电脑,一直到睡觉。我在睡觉前跟Beatrice提出了要一点放东西的位子。

早上好像不需要设闹钟。外面的小孩嬉戏的声音在七点就会把我弄醒。早餐是Richard帮我弄的。吃了两天的香蕉糕。今天一早,Beatrice给了我几个衣架挂衣服。我很自便地把她的衣服挪在一起,腾出一个位子给我挂衣服。然后,我又把自己行李箱里日常用的东西拿出来,摆在桌子的一个角。可能今天晚上我问Richard要一张椅子来放其他的东西。我的旅行背包腾空了。终于可以把他打包好让它好好躺着休息一下。否则,我真的很担心它的背脊会不会坏掉。我把剩下的东西放在旅行箱里。

我好像又适应了。我好像又很快地把更多的舒适丢掉了。Tim告诉我他老板的阿姨家里有空房。Guy说住不好的话跟他说,他会想办法。Heleen和Jana都在慰问我。我应该在这典型非洲家庭里呆下去,还是去找另一片舒适?非常矛盾。我的健康意识和我的冒险精神在辩论。

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4 rustlings

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The ultimate


With all excitement, I moved out of Ubrine's house, to stay with my hosting family. I have no idea who they are, where the house is, and how was my living condition going to be like. But I think it's going to be fantastic, because I have seen Jana's house, and it's really luxury as compared to the house I am staying in. Not to mention the cold water and no fans which I have abandoned these needs since long time, but she has a room to herself, she has shower head, she has clean room which she can take off her shoes before entering. So I went, with a lot of hope and excitement.

But the house turned out to shock me all the way till now. The house has 3 dogs, the entire family speaks French and I can't understand them, I am sharing a room with the sister, sharing the bed and have no place to put my stuff at all. I saw a cockroach ran past the floor. The best thing is, my room light is spoiled. I spent 30 minutes yesterday in the dark to look for my shower stuff. The host, after seeing me taking so long in the room, came and asked me innocently, 'you can't find your things in the dark?'

In the bathroom, there is no flowing water. A little boy carried a pail of water for me. Looking at the quantity, I know I don't need to dream about washing my hair today. There was no hook or any place to put my clothes. In the end, I hang everything dangerously on two nails. Perhaps, the better thing the bathroom has as compared to the MC house, is that it has locks.

I wanted to go out and buy bottled drinking water, but my host suggested that I should adapt to drinking from the tap.

I admit I am not strong. A mere bad living housing condition is destroying my loud shouts about wanting to do an internship in Africa. But somehow, I find it hard to convince myself that I can live on here. Yes there is a possibility of shifting homes, but I guess it is very rude to do so, as it shows you despise the house. I have talked to the host here, the things that can hopefully change, is to have lights in my room and place to put my stuff. I can't demand them for flowing water or for a bed to myself. I guess I have to live with wearing footwear all the time. But water.. having to compromise on hygiene. My health consciousness is screaming at me. And safety. With no place to put my belongings, it means everything will stay in my suitcase. And where will I lock my money and laptop? Unless I lock and unlock the suitcase everyday. Or should I just trust everyone and leave them open? It's probably rude to show the host family that you don't trust them huh. I don't know!

There is a part of me that is saying that it's ok. It's only 8 weeks. You are here to challenge Africa, and people do live in the living condition that you are currently in. So you are here to experience it like them as well. Furthermore, you won't die without having a place to put your stuff, without light in the room, or without washing your hair everyday. Let's see how far you can push your boundary to.

I am really missing home very much now. I miss not needing to worry about hygiene and health. I miss not needing to worry about flowing water. I miss walking bare-footed. I miss the hangers in the bathroom. I miss the comfort. I don't know why I am here for so long. I should just touch and go without complicating my life too much. Right now, I really really missing my home, or the room in my hall. I miss the space, I miss the light. I miss free drinking water.

I want to go home......

Somehow as I am writing this, at the back of my mind, I know I will somehow change my mindset very fast. I will somehow adapt, and start throwing away more comfort that I always think I need. And then I will start living comfortably in the same environment, enjoying the life again, and start wanting more challenges again. I think I will. I hate myself being so rational and so strong. It seems like there is no way for me to just collapse, and let others take care of me. Somehow, I will always save some energy for sanity and mental strength to support myself through. It is good, but it is so tiring.

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3 rustlings

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