Monday, June 30, 2008

Bring on the chintz

I have become slightly obsessed with the idea of chairs. Chairs and benches.

When I lived in Liberia, in the beginning, I lived in a pretty crap house. And it had all the local-made furniture that other Liberians would have in their homes. A couple WILDLY uncomfortable straight back chairs, a big table, a couple stools and a big bamboo bench thing outside under the tree. It was one of the things that drove me insane about that house, actually, there was nowhere comfortable to sit ever. Which sounds like a stupid thing to say, but think about it. Nowhere comfy to sit EVER. You are ALWAYS in a state of mild discomfort.

So now, driving around the back roads of South Sudan and hangin out in people's homes when I go to do monitoring and stuff I notice, again, South Sudanese don't have chairs. Usually, there will be a couple communal little chairs for a whole block which get trotted out for guests, but they are usually the rigid back wooden ones which are worse than standing, or they may be plastic ones, but only if you're lucky.

Everyone else sits on a couple low stools, on the ground or perched on the edge of the low wall that goes around their tukuls.

And of course, lest we forget, it isn't like they've got big ol' comfy beds in there. Lots of them are sleeping on the dirt on a mat to top it off.

Honestly, I have no idea why I am so enthralled with this idea, but it goes through my head all the time. Is it possible that generations and generations of Africans (and Thai and Burmese and Swedes, for all I know) have gone through their whole lives without ever having a comfortable moment of repose?

God how I love being not from here some times.

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