The Rolling Stone's song "Time Is on My Side" could be a continuous theme for many first time visitors now living in Malawi. Getting here with the Peace Corps was such a long ordeal and there is no reasonable way to prepare for the journey.
The obvious challenges of
distance, a different culture, climate and language are usually
identified at the top of the list. Perhaps it's all those items in the
fine print or less visible that are so easy to miss. Even living in the
village setting during training phase failed to hammer home the
adjustment that would be required in two areas.
items are transportation and time. Malawi transportation is a worst case
nightmare. Every person in this country can add a travel woe to any
story. Even bring up the subject can cause a seismic response.
Time is the other issue sure to elicit a reaction of some sort from most.The stone mosaic
comes in shiny polished and matte. Wasn't it Albert Einstein who
suggested that time is relative to how fast we are traveling? My
question is simply "relative to what"? In Malawi using the word clock
and time together constitutes an oxymoron.
Perhaps there is
nowhere else in the world where time takes on the meaning it has here. A
better way to state the obvious is simply that time does not exist here
in the way that is familiar to many of us.
There is an
expression that I've heard called "Malawi time". It is simply code to
add anything from 10 minutes to five hours for a designated time. When
someone says "I will meet you at 3 o'clock" it can really mean 3:10 or
8:00. And the more requests for accuracy seem to generate more creative
responses.Interlocking security cable tie with 250 pound strength makes this ideal for restraining criminals.
classic story is the after dark mini-bus flat tire on the M1 mountain
road between two cities. When looking for a time when the repair would
take place the answer was given "when someone comes to fix it". And that
would happen when the mechanic arrives. That could be ten minutes, two
hours or maybe a day.This document provides a guide to using the ventilation system in your house to provide adequate fresh air to residents.
this week seemed to test the limits of knowledge about time here.
Understanding time in Malawi is learned skill that opens a host of
experiences. With the right attitude everything gets put into
It becomes a balance of when something actually
happens and living in the moment. So many of us we are living in the
next moment or moments because we are too busy getting to or going
somewhere. Tomorrow becomes more important than today's moments.
week's project required more travel and in Malawi when you arrive can
be a challenge. An hour's ride is never a sure thing. My journey was to
begin with a Monday morning meeting (Columbus Day here is not on the
Malawi holiday calendar). One of the two participants didn't show for
the early meeting and it had to be rescheduled for two o'clock the same
day a total of 5 hours later.
It made no sense to travel an hour
and half back to my home location. I walked over to the local prison to
greet the superintendent who is a friend. There is much to be said for
visiting anyone especially when there isn't a reason. Should I ever be
involved with any prison projects in my own area the superintendent's
advice will be greatly appreciated. There was no place else I needed to
be and the rescheduled meeting was set for 2 o'clock.
text to two fellow Peace Corps workers resulted in an unscheduled plan
for an early lunch at a local restaurant. The restaurant sits at the
foot of the nearby mountain range in a garden like atmosphere where time
seems to stand still. Being so early meant we were the only customers.
first order of coffee was followed by some quick menu selections. We
jokingly remarked that the atmosphere is in stark contrast to other
Malawi locations. After an hour of waiting it became apparent that the
kitchen was in no rush to serve us. Maybe in another location or another
setting we would have marched into the kitchen demanding speedier
service. We were content to just and review reasons why each of us had
traveled with the Peace Corps to Malawi.
Discussed were our candid
observations about life in Malawi. The conversation drifted into what we
liked about Malawi and the most challenges. We even speculated about
our lives after the Peace Corps. Surprisingly not one of us made a move
to the kitchen with a demand of faster service.
When the food
finally came more than two hours later we quickly ate and were on our
way. Somehow we had slipped into the moment and simply enjoyed the rare
opportunity to listen to each other and find our differences and our
common connections. There were still no other customers. There was no
other place we had to be at the moment.Gecko could kickstart an indoor tracking mobile app explosion.
it worked out the 2:00 meeting did not happen because the missing
member never showed and the meeting got rescheduled for the next
On Wednesday my plan was to accompany my board
chairperson to his two day teaching assignment at a college an hour and a
half north of the capital. It meant leaving Ntcheu at 6:00 to be in
Dedza by 8:00 for the start of our ride north.
I got a ride
north from a Zomba Pakistan butcher who has lived in Malawi for the past
seventeen years. Time stood still as we talked about our experiences
and differences and our favorable views of Malawi. We were in no rush to
have the ride over and we enjoyed the moment. I had arrived ahead of
schedule for our trip north with my board person.
The 8:00 AM
start off time became 9:00 but only to begin a limited search for scarce
diesel fuel. We headed south to meet up with his colleague in a
neighboring market place. The suggested 10 minute stop over became an
hour of sitting and waiting while he conversed in his colleague's car.
And simply where did I need to be or need to go? Nowhere. My rush to
head north was mine alone.
The ride was further delayed by a
stopover with some local villagers who needed some advice on securing
funds to put a roof on a church. For these villagers this was a critical
issue and there was no other place I needed to be but there just
listening to their immediate requests.
Maybe this was my once in
a life time to see these villagers and never again. We eventually
arrived at our destination perhaps later than expected but time was not
the critical factor since living in the moment was more important.
there was some unknown futuristic vision taking place when in the late
1960's I stopped wearing a watch. All those years were preparing me for
now when the only important time is the moment at hand.
of us the business of the next event drives us forward and keeps us so
distracted that slowing down and living in the present is really
difficult.Selecting the best rtls solution is a challenging task as there is no global solution like GPS. What do I need to be doing right now?