Thursday, November 27, 2008

Chronology of Sudan time

I attend a lot of meetings. It doesn’t sound quite a glamorous as I save small children with my bare hands in war-torn villages, but, well, it’s the reality of the job. To put even more of a spin on this, I attend a lot of meetings in Africa. Which means there are certain quirks.

Such as the one I am in right now. It was supposed to start at 8.30 am. I asked the organizers if that was a real 8.30 or a Sudan 8.30 (which is more like 10.30 or 11.00). “Oh no,” she says, “We have SO much to do, it is a very packed agenda, we will start at 8.30 sharp.”

Its 10.00 right now, the organizers haven’t even appeared yet, I’m being ostracized as the only non-Sudanese in the room and making very good progress on getting through the e-mails in my inbox.

10.45 - still not here. Sudan time strikes again. I’m thinking I may take up meditation to try to control my temper. Still being ostracized by the rest of the room.

11.15 – the team comes in. They don’t apologize. I’m told now we won’t be getting out until 6.30 and they’re just lounging around instead of actually starting the meeting.

11.30 – the room is excruciatingly hot, we’re all wilting. Because this was, in theory, an important meeting, I’m wearing my professional clothes (pencil skirt, nice shirt and wedge heels) and actually made an effort with my hair (which is now in a bun on my head) and makeup, which has now slid off my face. I have no idea what the UN person at the front of the room is rambling on about, I just want a Coke Light and a nap.

Did I mention it is Thanksgiving today? I should be eating turkey and stuffing right now.

11.40 – We’ve opened the windows to try and get some air, but it has let in the flies, those Sudanese flies you used to see on famine relief programs in the 80s and 90s. The ones that sit on your nose and eyes. I’m covered.

12.00 – Rights are good. Women have a tough time in Sudan. Repeat over and over and over again. In heavy Sudanese accents.

Still no tea or caffeine today. I’m being punished for something.

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