Re house staff. I think it's pretty normal in Africa (and Asia) for expats to have a lot of staff. They work almost for free. When you rent a house, it mostly comes with a cook, a cleaner, a gardener, a poolguy, etc. We have seen that in South Africa and Kenya but also in Sri Lanka. There were 'boys' for everything. The hotel we stayed at in Senegal last week also had so much staff.
It is pretty normal in case there is anyone who hasn't lived the expat lifestyle. But there is the quandary of do you employ a lot of staff because then you are giving jobs to the locals or do you not because you don't really need all of them and it is just 'make work'? Coincidentally enough I was told today of an expat, the one that sneered when he learnt of my car, who was paying $3500 a month in rent for a place that was obviously far too big for him and his wife, but as a status symbol, plus, he was paying $1500 a month for various and numerous staff. Our rent includes amongst other things the shared gardener, shared maid who comes twice a week and shared night security man. The people we share with have more staff than I can recognise at the moment though they only have the same size place as us. How much it would cost for our workers would be, for us, cheap I suppose if not included, but still a sum that would need to be considered.
Thanks for the answers on my previous questions. Re: wells ~ I'm wondering if there are many not in plain sight, behind houses, etc.
If your annoying acquaintance is paying $1500 for "various & numerous staff", he's probably paying as little as he can get away with, which pretty much sucks. If he were paying a decent wage with paid vacation & possibly a Christmas bonus, you can bet he'd have fewer employees.
I appreciate that even in your short time there you've managed to show something of how people on the regular, non middle-class economic level live. It tells way more about a country than any number of attractively touristic shots.
It feels a little unnatural to me to be living an expat lifestyle (even after many years) and hence I still enjoy and relate more to the 'common man' (whoever that really is I suppose) than otherwise. I am aware that it is only by a quirk of marriage that I am where I am and in these circumstances, literally and figuratively. Anecdotal evidence suggests as regards the cost per month that working for an Indian or Chinese employer is far worse. I really have no idea but it is what I'm told.
Oh definitely be positive.... things in Africa are definitely different and have been since I was born in Kenya. Do not think it is below some one to be your servant. It is an honor. To our mind this cannot be. Leave them in peace. They are content.
Hmmm. Maybe. Maybe not. I don't think any of us here are qualified to put ourselves in their shoes. However, anything that puts food in the mouths of their children and clothes on their back is almost certainly an improvement.
One character trait seen here, and by reputation is fairly accurate, is that in general Zambians more easily display happiness than many other African nations I have experienced. I have no idea as to what the reason is but I am pleased to see so many smiling and/or laughing. Every day I come across instances and it usually takes the form of something being said that obviously I don't understand because of the language, but the reaction is a smile and a laugh. It may seem quite simplistic a viewpoint but you'd be hard pushed not to notice something is different here in comparison. Every day I hear the 'servants' next door laughing and joking with each other. The gardener will say something in greeting to the night guard each morning which provokes a laugh, the cook will shout pretend abuse to the cleaner etc etc. The guards on duty at the shopping mall will be bantering with the lads who collect the supermarket trolleys. There are no end of examples, and I mean every day without fail.
It is not that the locals are like simple children amused by anything, nor is it forced or cutting sarcasm being used. Whatever the reasoning behind it, and I don't look at this as a patronising and condescending expat, more as just an interested observer as I always consciously pay attention to a lot of small things out of interest, but whatever the reason is, is possibly even not known by the locals. The reason I say this is because I had a small conversation with our cleaner today. She has one brother and one sister. Neither have a job. Her father died of HIV many years ago leaving her mother to be looked after as she got older by the children. They take turns in living with her. Not just visiting, but staying a week or so before the other takes over. Our cleaner is the only one with a job and she supports the others. Fortunately there are no children in the picture.
She spends most of her time with me singing to herself, even if she thinks I am not there, I have heard her. I see her pass by and interact with the others from the neighbours. I hear the tone of voice when she is on the phone. I asked her today about this being happy thing and her reaction was that of surprise. She didn't think she particularly was. Nothing out of the ordinary for the life she leads. I told her that Zambians have in general a reputation for being friendly, good natured and usually in a good mood. She didn't think she or they were but said that if other people think 'we' are that way then maybe it is really just them who are unfriendly and often angry and irritable. Her perspective was that Zambians are just normal, it is the others (meaning nationalities) who must be normally unhappy with something. She may have a point.
One other small thing I've noticed - there is a supermarket here that invariably employs people who are deaf and dumb (is that still PC or should there be another term?) on the tills at the checkout. Hovering somewhere around doing other duties is also an employee who can speak and hear but knows sign language, just in case of difficulties. Good stuff. Like it.
I used to think that Mexicans had the stupidest sense of humor because they would laugh at almost anything. I finally realized that it was a really positive trait displaying a willingness to laugh and be happy when the opportunity presented itself. It gave me a much better enjoyment of humor, since now I give myself permission to laugh at stuff that my former self would have considered too silly. Sounds as though the Zambians have that same attitude of taking joy where you find it.
Since you asked, either deaf or hard of hearing is the preferred term. Really, most deaf people are not mute and can vocalize or communicate in some other way.
Mark - I am glad to hear your environment is a joyful place. It seems like mine here in my home. My house maid and my once a week ironing maid love joking with Cylvias the gardener. So much so, that on a day when windows are cleaned she does the inside and he does the same window outside - all the time chattering away and giggling. When I take the ladies to the bus stop they find it very amusing when I complain about other drivers being too slow or stopping in an awkward place. We often part company amid howls of laughter!
Now the work place is not so happy as different nationalities don't see eye-to-eye on many things and try to avoid communicating with each other as much as possible.
Bixa, when I was in Egypt I found that virtually all the cashiers and most of the bag fillers were deaf. This was in Carrefour. In the Amman one it was different. I never saw any. Here it is a supermarket called Pick n Pay yet in the others there seem to be none. I'll try and remember to ask someone what their policy is next time I go. I bet there are some regulations here as regards employing your quota of..... errr....... disabled(?) but I also bet they are not adhered to.
Humans are fickle creatures, aren't they? Happiness is relative and I think a lot of the expats don't know how lucky they are. Especially the long serving ones to whom the biggest problem is not being able to get decent orange juice or something.
Part 4-ish or so of what a travelling spouse gets up to when the bread winner is at work -
As usual I disappear out this morning and don't take my good camera with me. I usually keep a cheap point and shoot in my bag but I really must make a determined effort to remember. Hence I apologise for the quality but they are suitable to give you an overview. I mention this because, with the place being new to me, I'm constantly coming across things to photograph to give you an idea of what day to day life is like. When we move into some proper accommodation you can guarantee it is a bit bare. So we tend to buy or bring with us some colourful posters to hang on the walls. Some are fine just stuck on but others really need a proper frame. My task today was to call at a place that did framing as we've looked a lot in the normal shops and come up blank. On the way there I noticed a sign pointing off the main road for a supermarket I'd not heard of. The thing that stuck out was the sign was in multiple European languages.
In conclusion - which I know normally comes at the end, but I like to be a little rebellious - I've found the place the Chinese come to do their vegetable shopping. It isn't a supermarket but an indoor market You know in a lot of reports about markets, like the one I did regarding the indoor market in Frankfurt, there are numerous mouth watering photos of all that is on offer. Not so here. The reason being there was nothing much here of note and even though a tad more expensive, I've found better in the normal supermarkets. There were no unusual veggies or meats or prepared food at all. It was a bit of a letdown. But, you have to take the rough with the smooth.
The reason I know this is where the Chinese come is because there were three eateries around the building. All served Chinese food, all had menus just in Chinese and the cook cum helpers were Chinese. Not a local Zambian in sight and employed by them. I did though have a lovely big bowl of noodle and veg soup. It probably had a proper name but I just pointed at what a man sitting down had.
On comical incident was these chaps -
I had heard a crash a little away from me and a bowl of them had been dropped or knocked over resulting in a mad scramble to try and pick them all up before they ran off -
They mainly came from Lake Kariba, about 3 hours or so away and were fresh that morning. Not appealing to me though.
Mark I would also hesitate...maybe only briefly, in buying those fresh water crayfish. I would like to know where on the lake they are harvested - for instance might be a sewerage outlet. They would be teeming around it.
tod, I'd want to see where they exactly come from as well.
Late breakfast today whilst shopping in a bit of a rush. The alarm didn't go off this morning so we were a bit late doing things. Cheese and broccoli pie with chips, and to keep it healthy, a coke lite. Total cost as it was a meal deal/menu was 3 euro -
I'm not sure I really want to know about the last one -
I knew it wasn't a local operation and expected it'd be from SA but there seems nothing much wrong with their stuff even if it does come frozen. There is lots of choice and what I've had before is fairly tasty, though I'm not sure how good the meat really is. They do say, "King Pie pies are made with 84 layers of trans-fat free traditional flaky puff pastry which contains no rising agents and their fillings are 100 percent pure beef and chicken with no meat replacers." But that can still mean they mix up all the off cuts. I'm happy with it once a month or so as a quick on the go snack.
Mark I admire you for wanting to roast a turkey in this heat! I'm dreaming of those feshwater crayfish now....In Australia I think they called Yabbies but the ones I tasted were only as big as a Queen prawn. My husband says he doubts very much whether raw sewage would be allowed into the lake so thinks those little critters could be quite OK - and quite delicious!