Monday, 18 June 2012

"Un Dimanche à la Piscine à Kumasi"

So this dimanche I thought it was high time to do nothing. But a relaxing sort of nothing, as opposed to a recovering-from-illness sort of nothing. After spending the majority of last week in bed, I felt that on Friday, when I returned to school, I must have looked like a recently-released hostage: pale, unaccustomed to daylight, desperately in need of a haircut and a little out of touch with the rest of the world. So, first things first, I got myself that much-needed haircut: I had begun to look like Captain Caveman. What's more, it cost the equivalent of 80 pence and, amazingly, it's just what I wanted. My fellow Year Abroaders from this year will, I'm sure, have a deep understanding and knowledge of the all-consuming, unbridled terror that grips you when having your haircut in a foreign country. A select few of you will be all too aware of my infamous "Egg Incident" in France some months ago… But here, there was no such misfortune.

A trip to the nearby swimming pool was, I thought, a good way to make use of the sun again. I had the place to myself for the majority of the day; listening to African hip-hop remixes being blared out at many thousands of decibels, while the two staff members would dance in the shade of the deserted bar. I kidded myself that I was doing exercise when for the most part I was definitely floating around for ages in the middle of the pool. Think the start of The Bourne Identity, but if he hadn't lost his memory and had decided to go on holiday for a bit of respite instead. 

When eventually a family did turn up, I got talking with the children and they asked me if I could help them to learn to swim properly. There's nothing like giving demonstrations, tips and advice on a technique before watching them give it a go -  as they sink like a lead weight. But we made progress as we got on. Funnily enough, they knew of me as a teacher before we spoke - they'd seen me around the area before. This is becoming a common occurrence:  I'll walk around and hear little children, who neither have I spoken to before nor do they go to the school in which I teach, shouting 'Niiiick! Morning-o! [Ghanaian-English for all of you linguistics fans]' everywhere. It's like a glimpse into a celebrity lifestyle. Being an obruni, I rather stand out here. I long ago became accustomed to being stared out wherever I go; whether it's on the minibus, walking home from school or just being around town, 99% of heads turn my way. I can't help but think that I'm not entirely deserving of all this attention, and whether it's all really necessary - yet on the rare occasion that I've seen another obruni here, I guarantee that I was staring at them far more intently than anyone else around. So I'm not one to judge.

I'm really looking forward to getting back to a normal week at school. There's sure to be plenty more incident with the minibus, more Social Studies and English lessons, a token 'practice' on the keyboard and the chance to get back to a favourite book: it's one that I've read before, yet I still can't for the life of me work out how the Ukrainian terrorists are going to get off the world's largest oil-tanker without having to blow it up, causing the Kremlin and possibly the US President to fall in the process. I look forward to finding out though...

Ghanaian Vehicle Moment of the Week: To help fifty to sixty pupils squeeze onto the minibus, I took one for the team and became the luggage rack. This selfless act tragically ended with the lower-most bag leaking what I chose to believe was water, all over my trousers for a good twenty minutes or so before we reached school.

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