Tuesday, November 29, 2005

videos. watch out

Watch out cause technology is on the rise. I'm sure this will come to blogger soon as well, but for now, check out my brand new Typepad blog right here. We've got a Typepad account for our various Calabash Music blogs, and we've got a pro account since we're such blogging fiends. Anyway, that coupled with some fun new tools that VideoEgg and Typepad have brought us (for free and sans-adverts for the moment), mean that you all get to see my video.
And it means I get to show you where I've been in more ways than one. First there were words. Then pictures. Now video.
As I said - Watch out.
My first video post is from the Friday night concert at the UN Habitat sponsored Global Hip Hop Summit.
Check it out.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

arriving home

so it only took somewhere around 72 hours after i physically arrived in boston for the rest of me to arrive. sometime yesterday morning i realized that i was back. "they" say that your soul takes a while to arrive cause it can't travel as fast as a plane, and i guess it is true. or maybe it's just jet-lag. take your pick as to an explanation. we've started to get some of the music i gathered up on calabash, so you can check out what i've seen with the 60 second samples. for example, you can check out bhubesii's release. bhubesii is one of the guys from black sunday, and this is that collective's first release in a bit. you can also check out a black sunday alum, pitch black afro and his album "styling gel." other artists that i met include mapaputsi, one of the kwaito originators and vivid afrika, a wicked new jazz project. i met mapaputsi at the EMI christmas release party, when there were also performances by M'du, Brown Dash, HHP (Hip Hop Pantsula), Mandoza and others. Some of these guys will be on our site soon, others may take a little while (but we'll get them!).
vivid afrika is this cool project from the label MELT. we've had MELT on calabash for quite some time, and they have lots of south african jazz. i never really got this music. i just thought it was jazz. but at this record release party, listening to what was going on, i really got it. i realized that south african jazz was happening, that it was new and different and it's own unique style. the vivid afrika project is a cool one, these guys coming together to perform as one group, pushing the boundaries of african jazz. i definently recommend checking it out.
i'll be putting up video clips and pictures here and on my blog that i'm simultaneously publishing to as well. you can check out that blog here.

Monday, October 31, 2005

back in boston

so i'm back in boston and testing a new blogging tool. hopefully this is going to let me post some nice things (videos, pictures, etc) from my trip to both my blog and the calabash blogs. we'll see. . . .
Powered By Qumana

Saturday, October 29, 2005

handlin my business

so maybe going solo works out. i got lucky and got the
one seat left on jozi to atlanta. if i'd showed up
earlier, no seat. if later, no seat. whew. so thanks.
to you. and thanks be.
the wierd part is i'd of course love to stay, but this
unknowing bit is not cool. that and being out in the
boonies, the farmland, is also not cool. i mean, if i
was going to stay, i'd want to be at the kaizer chiefs
v orlando pirates derby today in soweto. soccer in
soweto. yebo!
but no, i'm headed home. so i hope to see you all
much love.

stuck in jozi

hmmmm. remember an email like this before the blog
existed? .. . . when i was stuck in dakar, senegal
trying to get back to bamako? well now it's similar,
but still a huge pain in my arse!
our flight last night from jozi to nyc was cancelled.
so instead of being home, seeing razz perform, being
back in cold boston, i'm stuck in jozi. and not even
the nice parts. i'm out in the middle of nowhere at
some hotel/conference center deal. in a smoking room.
far away from my friends in melville, soweto, etc.
i spent 30 minutes on the phone with SAA this morning
and no deal. i almost had a jozi-zurich-boston but
that filled up before we could confirm it. grrr. and
then the guy took my cell number to call me when he
found something. that was 45 minutes ago. he told me
he'd call within 15 minutes. guess what? he hasn't
called back!
and at least in senegal, there was such a small crew
of travellers that we all stuck together. there was
the diamond dealer and his wife, the young french guy,
the doctor, etc. here there are 400 passengers and
i've talked with a couple, but i'm solo man. no
collaborating with folks, no sharing info, whatever. i
can't decide if i like this or not. i don't really
want to commiserate forever with folks, but i do want
to know if someone gets some good info. so i'm just
jammin on the ipod, in my own little world, trying to
avoid going into that anger space. i just don't find
it helpful, and i really just want to get home at this
point. if i can't be hanging out in the city, hanging
with friends, then i want to be home. HOME! so put
your prayers in the air and get me back to boston.
i'm going to sign off, save some time on the net and
try and find a flight. i'll be back . . .

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

the not so far past - continued

dang - blogger is being a pain. i can't actually log
in and post so i'm having to send in my posts via
email. why won't blogger work outside the us! or on a
slow connection!

anyway, back to the story.

thursday, i got up and took the local private minibus
service downtown to where the summit was going to be.
they call these things taxis (i think i wrote that
earlier). anyway, i took a taxi downtown. found a nice
little cafe on the main square across from the museum
africa and market theater.

* side note - apparently the museum africa has a nice
exhibit on how many many south african wineries use
the "dop" system to pay their workers. as in - they
pay the workers in wine, make them stay on the
vineyards all year, provide them food and a yearly
salary of about $100. not so far from slavery . . . .
i hope i can get there to see the exhibit and educate
myself about this industry.

anyway, i found this cafe, got a coffee and headed to
the bassline, a venue where the summit would be based.
i soon ran into the brother of hempza, whom i'd met
the night before and hung out with him and hempza for
much of the morning. the summit was basically speeches
all morning, and then some more open discussions in
the afternoon. the big thing for me that day was
listening to emmanuel jah, k'naan and lady b speak.
they spoke about coming from conflict zones as
children and channeling this into their art.
emmanuel was a child soldier in the sudan and has a
heartbreaking story. heartbreaking. and he just tells
it the way it was, no holding back. the audience was
in tears. and sometimes laughing at stuff that really
you can't comprehend even if you hear it. anyway, the
basic point of this is that hip hop (and art
generally) is helping kids deal with severe violence
in conflict zones, be they war zones like somalia
(k'naan) or neighborhoods with heavy
violence/drugs/etc (soweto, south central la, etc).

after the summit was over for the day, i headed to the
songwriter's club to check out the latest release from
MELT, one of the labels on Calabash. this group,
calling themselves vivid africa were very cool. they
also helped me understand or start to understand south
african jazz, which is such a developed and amazing
genre of music. this stuff is like what is going on
elsewhere, but is completely it's own thing. and a
very cool thing it is as well. so it'll be up soon to
hear some samples of, and i'll put up pictures from
the performance here soon as well.

then i got a ride from another 1 giant leap fixer
named kerry, who had hooked up the shoot here in south
africa this spring. she dropped me off at constitution
hill for a dinner for speakers and artists at the
conference. we were eating in a courtyard at this
complex. the part we were in was part of the old fort,
where mandela was held before he got sent down to
robben island. so we were eating like 50 feet from his
old cell. crazy. this complex also houses the new
constitional court of south africa (made up of 7 men
and 4 women, hear that gw?). speaking of this, south
african democracy really seems vibrant and alive,
putting us to shame. anyway, it was a nice dinner and
then tumi and the volume played and then the mic was
opened up for anyone to do their thing. lots of great
artists got up and did spoken word, freestyle, etc.
nice. i spent most of the night chatting with emile
from black noise, and i'll put more up about him

anyway, i'm running off to get some food now, and my
hour is up. much love to all, and more later!

tuesday update (and the past a bit)

things here have continued to be busy. today i got 2
deals signed, so that is awesome. i have lots of new
music to listen to, so look for some on the 'bash and
at our house parties!
i can't really believe how busy i've been, and how
much has happened here in the course of 6 days. i've
taken some photos, taken some video, and lots of
i'll try and take things back to my arrival to give
folks a better sense of what i've been up to.
i arrived wednesday morning, and got my phone and cash
sorted out. i then found a ride with the conference
organizer's brother and a bunch of other folks
attending the global hip hop summit. a journalist, a
couple artists and a youth activist. they got dropped
off at a hotel and i headed out to meet with a label
once we got into downtown jozi.
after my meeting with the label, i headed to melville,
where i'm staying. i found a nice little cafe
(recommended by meetali) and settled in for some food,
drink, relaxation and writing. meetali didn't get off
work until 5.30 and i was staying with her that night.
so i got some food and read and wrote for a while. got
to watch an amazing thundershower that shut down the
sidewalk half of the cafe and cleared the streets
briefly. when meetali and her friends showed up, it
was already a bit late. so we headed to a bar next
door for a drink and then they dropped me off at the
welcome party at this mall called "the zone" in a
suburb called rosebank. swanky swanky place. both the
mall and the suburb. more fancy stores than anywhere
in boston that's for sure.
at this dinner, i realized that the UN in the form of
UN-Habitat was sponsoring the event, and i got to meet
some of the artists and other folks at the summit. DJ
Awadi and Positive Black Soul were there from Senegal,
and besides being legends, they are super nice guys.
Guru (from Gangstarr) and his crew showed up way late.
Kind of funny to see other artists and the staff at
the restaurant fall over him. More on him later.
I finally made it home late, found the (small) couch
and crashed.
The flight over had been 3 hours to ATL, then 8/9
hours to cape verde to refuel and not leave the plane
and then another 8 hours to joburg. and i probably
slept only 4-6 hours total on the plane. looooong
next post: thursday

Monday, October 24, 2005

2 worlds in one city

i'm sitting here in melville, the 'safest' suburb of jo'burg (aka jozi) writing this. i've got 10 minutes left on my internet time, so this may be short. anyway, i'm in a nice cafe overlooking the street in my nice pants and dress shirt, about to go meet with gallo and hopefully get them on board (finally). i'm a short walk from this nice little guest house i'm staying at where i have a small neat single room with breakfast for just about $60/night. and for the past 2 days, i've been haning out in Soweto. the south western township. THE soweto. soweto is about 20 -30 minutes drive from here, but a totally different world. it feels like the poorer parts of africa i've been in, whereas melville could be a neighborhood in california anywhere. little shops, galleries, cafes etc etc. whereas soweto is, well soweto. saturday, i got a tour of the township along with a few of the guys with the artist k'naan's group. hempza and his friend karrabo took us around. hempza is the lead organizer of this neighborhood group called "black sunday". basically, the tour was short, but we got to see the houses selling for over $350,000 in the neighborhood, hector peterson square (where the student uprising in 1976 started), the squatter camps where folks live in structures of 4 tin walls and a roof about 8x8 foot in size. and we also got to see black sunday's headquarters. (i'll get to what they do in a sec.)
yesterday, i took a public taxi (the sotrama of s.a. - vans outfitted to seat 10-15 people.) downtown, met up with hempza and his mom and took another taxi like that into soweto. then we went to hempza's house and started setting up for black sunday.
black sunday is a weekly event held on sundays in the townships around here that showcase the hip hop scene. djs, mcs, bboys, grafcats, etc all get together and it is basically an open mic, with new guys getting a break, established folks honing their acts, and famous guys dropping in. yesterday, a bunch of the acts that were at the global hip hop summit (which i was at on thursday, friday and it was pretty good - more about that later), were also at black sunday.
so, k'naan, postive black soul, emmanuel jah, gidigidi majimaji, and many others were there. tight! i've got some nice video, so i hope it makes it back and i can show you.
i've got to run now, so much love to all.
p.s. if anyone wants a "black sunday academy, soweto" t-shirt, let me know.

Monday, October 17, 2005

testing the email post . . .

testing the email post option to see if this works.
got to get the dust out of the system before this trip
. . .

headed south

getting ready to go south. sitting at this part time job i've got (for a couple more shifts) wanting to be home getting ready, or home hanging with akr. trying to use this time productively on my own stuff so that i'm more or less ready to go. the plane leaves in just over 12 hours, and although i'm pretty much packed and ready, i don't feel ready. this trip has been so fast in coming together, that i haven't had to time to think about it. but the 20+ hours in the plane will definitely provide that mind space.
i'll try and post as much as i can while i'm away. i've been told that public internet cafes and such are pretty widespread, so i'll try and get to them as much as i can. and i'll have my camera so maybe i can also get some photos up soon.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


so i had to turn on word verification for those of you who want to comment. i'm getting hit with comment spam. sorry about that. when it goes away, i'll turn off the word verification.

Central Square World's Fair

This sunday I stage managed the Central Square World's Fair and a bunch of acts performed. It was a great (if exhausting) day. I'll post the rest of of the acts in later posts. But first to Fellyko. I didn't know this guy existed 2 weeks ago, but he is sweet. Sweet guy with a sweet sound. Playing a sweet guitar given to him by Banning. wow. get up and dance!

Andy Brown Show

So I'm going to start posting pictures from the shows that I go to either for my own fun, for Calabash Music, or for Afropop Worldwide.
You can also see more info about these groups at

My first post is about Andy Brown, a musician from Zimbabwe, who has had the interesting role of being FOR Mugabe's government. This despite all the horrific acts Mugabe is undertaking. But maybe it is a little too tough not to take the money, especially when you see opponents houses bulldozed, careers crushed, etc. I obviously have never been in that position, so I'll withhold judgement, and only say that he has been in an interesting position. I guess that Banning Eyre from Afropop had a great conversation with him before the show, some of which I bet will show up in his new book about Thomas Mapfumo.

Monday, September 05, 2005

america is great

. . . . . but the government ain't .

this whole katrina thing does seem to prove that America is great when you measure this country by the people who make it up. Everyone (well, almost everyone - i'll say more later) has pitched in and done something, or shown the willingness to do so. I say almost everyone, because apparently those in washington, starting with the big loser W, haven't done shit.

but out whole country: black and white; north and south; red state and blue state; Democrat and Republican; poor and not so poor; christian, jew, muslim. all have turned out with a willingness to do something and fix the situation in new orleans.

bob hebert, in the NYTimes today gets it right.
"After days of withering criticism from white and black Americans, from conservatives as well as liberals, from Republicans and Democrats, the president finally felt compelled to act, however feebly. (The chorus of criticism from nearly all quarters demanding that the president do something tells me that the nation as a whole is so much better than this administration.)"

he continues: "Mr. Bush's performance last week will rank as one of the worst ever by a president during a dire national emergency. What we witnessed, as clearly as the overwhelming agony of the city of New Orleans, was the dangerous incompetence and the staggering indifference to human suffering of the president and his administration."

he concludes: "Like a boy being prepped for a second crack at a failed exam, Mr. Bush has been meeting with his handlers to see what steps can be taken to minimize the political fallout from this latest demonstration of his ineptitude. But this is not about politics. It's about competence. And when the president is so obviously clueless about matters so obviously important, it means that the rest of us, like the people left stranded in New Orleans, are in deep, deep trouble."

and i conclude with a combination of things. first is bush's butchering of the famous phrase "fool me once". and second would be some pictures, but i can't get those right now. so here goes:

Fool me once [pictures of looters in baghdad] shame on you. Fool me twice [pictures of looters in NOLA], shame on me.

Looting in both of these cases is not about people trying to act malicious. It is about a failure of certain people to anticipate people's needs. Basic needs like food, water, electricity and medicine. And it is about people then attempting to meet those needs on their own. And in the absence of government and law and order, you get looting. So while these things could have been anticipated and alleviated or avoided, bush led us straight into the disasters that we now have to clean up and fix as best we can for the next generations.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

just checking in

to see if friendster picks up my blog . . .

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


So we are about to launch a new feature of our website which will allow us to do playlists. I've created my first top ten list - go check it out and let me know what you think. and soon you'll be able to create your own! and read, listen and buy other people's playlists.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

may day

so the snow is gone, my schedule is full, and i haven't posted in forever.
calabash is busy, though we've not been filling up the summer/fall with festivals the way we had hoped.
in any case, we've moved into a new office, and launched a new version of our website. all lots of work, and all good for the company and my state of mind.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

last larium!

just took the final larium. mixed feelings about that. mixed feelings about taking the stinkin drug to begin with. just thankful that i don't go too crazy on it. none of the camp lejeune killings here, thank you very much.
so i guess that means i am back home. whether or not i want to be. no more pretending i am in africa. although i do get to go visit my folks this weekend, so maybe i can warm up a little bit when i'm at their house. sunny and 60 always. or so says my dad.

Monday, January 24, 2005

ahhhh! snow!

hiding out at home in boston. trying to dig out my car. just put in 1 hour, and i've done one side of the car. damn. too much snow and nowhere to put it. welcome back to the usa. no fun.
and just when i felt i was almost back here. getting things going again. stuffing up my schedule with too much stuff as usual. calabash, producing a couple shows, afropop, dance, the usual.
drifts up to 6 feet or more, about a solid 4 feet all around my car. insane. no one in mali would believe this stuff.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

thanks for this

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

-jesus, from the gnostic gospels of thomas

long time no post

hello out there. so this has been a very interesting week. trying to adjust to being back in the usa (still), having people (mis)read sections of this blog and go on to high drama, etc.
i think one of the biggest things that is strange is living in a house basically all alone. my 3 roommates are rarely around, and if we overlap in the house, it is for a couple minutes. so strange. i had to go to the coffeehouse yesterday to just be around other people. this life we lead in the us is so isolating in so many ways.
i had a great dinner and discussion last night with mf (names shortened to protect the innocent). anway he and i talked about this project that we're wanting to do, which would be really great if it happens. it should be exciting to watch this whole thing happen. then we picked up his girlfriend and went to see "huckabees"
interesting movie. funny stuff. i had more to say about it, but i'm going to run off now. see ya!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

culture lag

i'm not sure if it's jet lag or culture shock or both or what. anyway, it's a tough little re-entry process. went to the supermarket tonight for essentials and of course that just totally bugs me out. i also think all the quiet is really freaking me out. bamako was never silent like it is here. not in a house with 30 people moving around, not with people playing radios and stereos all over, not with animals running around at all hours making noises. chickens crowing, donkeys doing their sick ass (ha ha) noise thing, dogs fighting/mating, etc.

remember africa . . .

Romilly Greenhill, policy officer for ActionAid, said deaths as a result of poverty and preventable diseases in Africa amounted to the equivalent of the tsunami death toll every week.

Africa is the only continent to have grown poorer in the past 25 years.

It is the continent with the largest number of people living on less than a dollar a day - 49% of the total population. [in Mali, that number is somewhere around 70% of the population living on less than $1 a day!]

One African in three is undernourished.

Twenty-eight million people in Africa are now affected by HIV/Aids.

There are 11 million orphans in Africa as a result of Aids.

Africa also accounts for 90% of global deaths from malaria, and a woman in Africa is over 100 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than a woman in a developed country.

(from the BBC)

the minister of sound

listening to "edou" last night, i was taken back to fiji for a sec. edou was one of the groups that was headlining the festival in fiji in november. they are a traditional/reggae/pop group from new caledonia. good stuff. lots of fun to listen to and to dance to. anyway, listening to the cd i was reminded that their guitar player is the minister of culture. that's right, the guitar player is a minister! nice. kind of like brazil in that they've made gilberto gil the minister of culture there as well. get some people who actually know music in positions to help other musicians. edou's guitar player is a great guitar player and a great guy as well. fun thoughts and remembrances . . .

Monday, January 10, 2005

my favorite photo from fiji so far. i figured since i got this thing sorted out to post pictures, i'd put this up as well. this girl grabbed the ukulele that had been used in this village by their string band and was happily 'playing' away. so cute. even better when she grabbed the guitar (as big as her) and tried to play and then carry that. too much.
Posted by Hello

one more post

one more post for today. got lots to get off my mind and lots of writing to do here and in my journal to get back to the states mentally. leaving mali was tough. i had never really known what the phrase "parting is such sweet sorrow" meant until now, really. before after big trips, leaving places i had always either finished what i came to do, wanting to get the heck out, or just wanted to get home or get wherever i was going. however, this trip i really wanted to stay but really wanted to get home. i had some wonderful trips and was with some wonderful people, but was really ready to get home, get back to my wonderful friends here and get back to work. hence the sweet and the sorrow. (kind of like sweet and sour food, but different)
sidy, ba and kadi all took me to the airport in a cab. now that the air france flights arrive and leave at night, getting to and leaving mali is a different story. now you drive through town both ways in the dark and when arriving, don't really realize where you are until morning.
at the airport, check in was easy and my bags fit the weight limit. i even had the same porter as in 2001. he recognized me from the music videos i was in last trip and started up the conversation again from 2001. crazy stuff.
i left the airport to hang a bit with ba, sidy and kadi and then they left and i went through customs, security etc. managed to spend a little bit of cash on some last minute souvenirs. and spent some time talking with the aforementioned nurses from utah. they were really great, and it was nice having that conversation.
on the airplane, i finally got a chance to see some photos of the tsunami disaster and read a bit about that. shocking. i feel like each trip i take to mali, some huge disaster unfolds. i hope that is really not true cause i want to go back. the first trip was sept 11 and this trip the tsunami. it is really interesting how i rely on photos to give me a sense of what is happening and what is real. i had of course been listening to the bbc and rfi and knew kind of what was going on with the tsunami and that hundreds of thousands had died. but it didn't really sink in what was happening until i saw the photos in the magazines. wow.
france. cdg airport is a bad place to spend lots of time. alone. not well organized, so lots of lines, lots of confusion, expensive expensive food, fairly dirty, etc. but i made it out and made it home to be greeted by karen and lucy. and i've spent the past 36 hours kind of unpacking, but really just adjusting mentally to being home. my room is a disaster since i had 8 hours to drop unpack and repack between fiji and mali. so it'll take some time to sort out. and of course post africa, i have this urge to just throw all my stuff out. or rather find a way to get it to those with less.
just a reminder that i am extremely lucky and priviledged. trips like these are always humbling and grounding and centering. if i haven't called yet, don't take it personally, i'll be easing back into life here. thanks again to all of you for your support of me in these journeys. stay tuned. . . . . . .

one more photo for today. this is m'ba couliblay, one of the kids at the coulibaly house. ami, another 'kid' at the house, took this photo after i showed her how to use the camera. good stuff.
Posted by Hello

a bunch of these photos, including this, were taken chilling just outside the coulibaly's house. the white/pink building on the left with the ambulance in front of it is Asacado, the local health clinic for the neighborhood. i didn't check it out this time, but last time when i went in and found one patient room with 3 beds and 1 IV stand, one birthing room with metal table, one stirrup, one set surgical pans, one pair rubber kitchen gloves. and in talking to some nurses i met at the airport on my way out of bamako these are good conditions for mali. they had just spent 2 weeks in a village outside bamako as an ob/gyn surgical team helping with births, doing a c section and putting women back together after their many births coupled with hard labor right after.
Posted by Hello

ba (aka jiffy), the 2nd youngest child at the coulibaly house. last trip he was petrified of me and his cousins had great fun putting him in my lap and watching him scream. this time he was always around wanting to play or hang out or snuggle. a terror and a sweet kid at the same time. he was always wanting to see my photos and look at my family and friends (and see what else he could get his hands on in our room or see what other trouble he could find). here he is practicing his karate.
Posted by Hello

a woman at the compound where the woman who did all of my bazin dying lives. bazin is the white cotton which is dyed by collectives of women in the markets or in neighborhoods. it is then made into all of the really fancy clothes in mali. djeneba, a friend of sidy's, did some nice work for me to help create some clothes for me, calabash and my folks (merry christmas mom and dad).
Posted by Hello

pickup soccer, malian style. the kid in the blue shirt is adama, one of seydou's nephews and one of the 20 or so kids that live in the compound i stayed in. despite repeated requests to jump into a game, i stayed on the sidelines . . .
Posted by Hello

a sotrama (from society du transportation mali or something like that. these are the private public transportation vehicles for most bamakois. these are owned and run by private individuals who hire drivers and prantigis (apprentices - the guys who hang out the side door and holler out where the sotrama is going and collect your cash). but they run on set routes and have set fares and i think are regulated by some aspect of malian government. anyway, for 100 cfa you can go to the market or for 125 cfa you can go all the way downtown from where i lived.
Posted by Hello

more kids, these guys were some of the 50-150 in attendance at each of the dance classes i took. always a fun thing to have 100 or so onlookers watching you dance. anyway, they were obviously excited by my great dancing ;) or maybe it was just that they could see themselves on the screen of my video camera. great invention that, allowing the screen to flip so the photo subject can see themselves. always sets off a great scream of joy from the kids. it is really funny to watch the video when i flip the screen and the kids realize what's going on.
Posted by Hello

some kids in kolokani, rokia traore's village, watching the filming of the 1 giant leap sequel.
Posted by Hello

culture shocking

so i've been back in the states now for 36 hours or so. and i'm still in culture shock. i think it is unavoidable, and not sure exactly what triggers it; the cold, the snow on the ground, driving, the amount of food on the plates at restaurants, the prices of everything, the supermarket, the number of white people, the lack of kids running around everywhere, the tv in the house, the fact that i can actually drink the water from the tap (not that i have yet - some things are just habit and harder to break), seeing pictures of the tsunami, seeing the amount of crap i have in my room, . . . . . . .
the list goes on.
needless to say, mali and boston are 2 completely different worlds.
and the transition between those worlds is not an easy thing. i think i was fooled a little bit on the trip over and my transition into mali, as it went pretty smoothly this time. no major disease episodes, no major problems with food or language. my stomach was able to better handle some things (watching animals being slaughtered or prepared for eating, open toilets, open sewers, etc) and i was just less shocked by things and my senses were not as on high alert as they had been last trip. the smells and sights and sounds while still there and still noticed were not accompanied by alerts and shock like they might have been before.
i'm trying to download something so i can upload pictures, so i'm going to cut this post short and get that up and then write more. as you can tell from the time post on this blog, my body is still adjusting and i am feeling like i have to write right now.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

back again in the ussa!

i'm back in the states and starting my readjustment process, including relearning how to type on an english qwerty keyboqrd. as you can see, it'll take a bit of time.
i'll be around at 617 776 2857 until i get my cell phone back up and running
more later

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

ahh mali

i can't believe it's time to go. i've confirmed my flight out of here on friday, so am counting down the hours. mali is great. i don't know if that is cause i know i can leave at almost any time, or really cause it is a wonderful country with wonderful people or some combination of the two, but i will miss it when i leave.
taking care of final details, getting in final dance classes, going to a final ceremony, etc etc. although it has been 'cold' here lately, with temps dropping into the 50s at night, and i have been putting on long sleeves, i'm quite scared to come back to the lovely boston winter. just in time for it to really start being nasty. although i am also actually looking forward to being home.
in these last couple of days, i have started carrying my camera and video camera with me. normally i don't carry either cause they are nice expensive targets for theft and it is also culturally quite rude to take photos without asking and video the same. the video is great cause it also takes stills, and i can show people the stills right away. amazing. they love it! and i love it cause i get great photos!
anyway, i am off home to finish up some stuff there, and will probably next post from boston allah so na ma (inshallah/god willing)

Monday, January 03, 2005

bad day to be a chicken . . .

new years eve is a bad day to be a chicken in mali. everyone prepares chicken with onion, carrot and a couple other veggies (peppers and ?) on new years. the coulibaly's went out and bought 10! everywhere there were chickens being killed (cut the throat) and defeathered, either straight away or after being soaked in hot water for a bit. then the women butcher the chickens and start em cookin.
ba and i got the new years started by getting stuffed with this fresh chicken at the coulibaly house. full and in new outfits (ba in new 'american' jeans, shirt, hat and me in a bogolan boubou and hat) we got in our rented taxi and started out. picked up allison and sidy and headed across the river to visit abdoul doumbia and one of sidy's friends, chris. got to abdoul's house, found a bunch of toubabs drinking beer and hanging out. sekou camara was also there, which was nice to see him. we hung out for a while, then i found out abdoul was home, so i found him, also good to see him again. sidy made the mistake of inviting our taxi driver into the house here, and he was part of our party for the rest of the night. not really a bad thing, just kind of wierd. here we are, four friends, with this tag along guy. but who are we to deny him a happy new year party as well?
we then headed over to ramata diakite's house, as she had invited me over earlier in the day. we hung out a bit with her and her husband, and again, got fed lots and lots of chicken. this was also good stuff, but it was farafin chicken, not the toubab chicken we had at the coulibaly's. the difference will be apparent shortly. toubab chicken are like toubabs, well fed (maybe over fed), farafin chickens are like africans (farafin), fed.
this was the awkward part with the taxi man. ramata's husband basically told him to stay with the car, but he came in and sat down and ate with us anyway. too funny. also funny was ramata's guardian (house guardian) trying to take all of our picture. i don't think the guy had ever held a camera, much less a crazy one like mine with parts sticking out all over the place. i explained how to take a picture, he said he understood, then he looked in the viewfinder and pointed the camera at the ceiling. nice. we'll see how the picture turns out, but it was too funny. midnight struck as we were at ramata's house, and firecrackers were going off all over the place. more about them later.
we then headed out to one of the free concerts happening on new years. all the clubs were charging ridiculous prices, fine for a toubab alone, but not happening for a toubab with 2 malians in tow. prices started at 5000 cfa (10 bucks) and went up from there. i actually don't think there was admission under 20 bucks anywhere that night. this in a country where 70 percent of the people live on less than a dollar a day. a well paid functionary can bring home somewhere around 2000 dollars a year, but the artists i hang out with are making about 20 - 40 bucks a month from ceremonies. so how they got away with charging this stuff is beyond me, except that there are lots of toubabs and mali's small middle class must all come out on new years.
so we headed for the tower of africa, where ORTM, the malian tv station was having one of their 3 live shows. big crowd, artists lip synching to recordings which sometimes worked, and lots of firecrackers. (mom stop reading) it was a little unnerving, a little exciting. i think we were the only 2 toubabs in the crowd. anyway, we stuck around for a little bit, but we bailed after a particularly large explosion close by. allison was pretty unnerved, and that's probably good, cause i would have been happy to stick around, which was probably not the best idea. anyway, we headed out, looking for a cabine telepone to call moussa and joh and find out what was up with them. we couldn't get ahold of moussa, but found joh at his mother's house with his toubab crew. we found them, and again were stuffed with tasty chicken. i had enough, my stomach was about to burst. so we just chilled at joh's for a sec, letting our bellies expand for the chicken.
we then headed out to try and find a spot to dance the rest of the night away. oumou sangare had finished her concert, and by the time we got to the paradise club, it was after 4 am. so we bailed, leaving joh and crew to dance it up for us. made it home by 5 and got a good couple hours of sleep before the new year officially started . . .