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December 2010 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

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Car Park Decoration.

The Lone Painter.

30/12/2010 - The Last Week of 2010.

On Boxing Day, Adia decided to attend a funeral in Moshi, so I was left to my own devices for the day. Needless to say, relatively early in the afternoon I gravitated to the pub. There I met a French guy and his girl friend, and his girl friend's friend and her boyfriend. The beer flowed freely, and by the end of the day I had taken quite a skin-full, and had to drive home in a very gingerly fashion on Kiki. Fortunately it's not far.

After that life returned to something approaching normality, despite my significant overhang on Monday. That day I decided that some brute force and ignorance was about my correct level, so I cut channels in the new staff room walls for electrical conduits, and hacked a hole through the concrete floor and the wall where the squatter toilet will go. Since then, Innocent and his brother Gideon have been in there rendering the walls and taking the tops of the walls right up to the corrugated iron roof. Today I set the toilet on wood blocks in the correct position, and now they are skimming the floor and making the one-step-up platform that will constitute the mini en-suite bathroom.

Lilly has gone back to Bukoba to find out about her exam results and return to helping her aunt. On her last day she broke off the tap that the girls use to get water to do the washing on one of the concrete legs of the water tower. The bit of thread that's left in the socket can be difficult to get out, and it wasn't made any easier in this case by the fact that the tap was just positioned on a length of plastic pipe, so hammering was not an option. I made a primitive extractor out of a piece of 20x4mm steel bar with a tapered end and and sharp edges. Then I cut into the remaining threaded piece from the inside with a hacksaw blade until I had grooves that the extractor could get well into. Ufter a lot of fiddling I eventually got the extractor well wedged in there, and then I was able to turn it round with an adjustable spanner and unscrew the stub of the broken tap. I replaced it with a more expensive and stronger brass tap.

The next day I had to replace the syphon in the toilet cistern in the small bedroom next to ours. A spring in the syphon mechanism had rusted away to a heap of broken rings. I lucked out on that job. Removing and replacing the cistern is one of those jobs where you have leaks as a result and have to spend a lot of time fixing them. But this one just went back on with no trouble - or none that has manifested itself yet.

Yesterday the power was out during the day, so in the afternoon we went and bought more plants. Adia is undertaking a major offensive within the compound in preparation for 'the visit' (of my children) in January. The car park has been spread with clean new moram to improve its appearance and to minimize muddiness when it rains, and a decorator is painting the outside of the house.

Harry recommended him. He's an older guy who works alone and not too fast, and he makes less mess that any other decorator I have ever encountered. He must be a well kept secret, since he's not expensive either - definitely a keeper. If the money will stretch, he'll do the big dining/living room as well.

I still don't know what we'll do on New Year's Eve tomorrow. I shall have to make enquiries at the local pubs today. The best bet will probably be to eat late at one of the restaurants at the Njiro shopping centre. There are several to choose from, plus bars, and it's quite close to home. I'll check out what's happening there later today.

Christmas Brunch.

Adia and me at the Mount Meru hotel.

White Christmas.

25/12/2010 - Christmas in Arusha.

The day did not get off to a good start. Lilly had put Adia's brand new dress in the wash basket, and Kemi had dutifully washed it, so when we rose, it was hanging wet on the washing line. Adia was mortified, and said her day was ruined. I thought it would be dry in three or four hours, so it would be OK.

To get some fresh air and exercise on Christmas morning, we took the three dogs out for a walk. At first just Adia and me tried, but that was going to be impossible, so we took Sippy along to hold Sigi. At first they were dragging us - and they're strong, but after half an hour in the heat they'd got hot and concentrated on panting, and were much better behaved. After a nearly two hour walk, they went unbidden to their kennels, drank a large quantity of water, then lay down and slept.

We had decided to eat out for Christmas as a treat. We left provisions and drinks so that Lilly and the staff could do their own Christmas dinner. We're an interesting ecumenical bunch. Adia is a Muslim, Kemi a Lutheran, Lilly an Anglican, Sippy a Catholic, and I'm an atheist. Of the Christians, only Kemi chose to go to church.

The new dress was dry by early afternoon, and we went off for brunch to a spiffy new hotel, were we were quite impressed. I had smoked salmon with green salad, prawn cocktail, tenderloin tournados and turkey with potatoes and roast tomatoes, baked ham with salad, then chocolate fudge with brandy sauce. Unfortunately the Christmas cake had all been eaten before we got to that point. The meal was washed down with a bottle of cheap but pleasant South African bubbly. Adia had much the same but with less bubbly and some fish instead of ham.

The hotel - the Mount Meru - is really nice inside. It is a brand new four-star; a hotel of the same name on the same site was demolished, and they started from scratch - probably a Chinese contractor, that seems to be the way here these days.

The cost was about the same as we used to pay at the four star hotels in Bangalore. We will definitely do Sunday brunches there again in the future. It is a treat I have missed here in Africa.

It started to rain before we finished eating, so we explored the hotel for a while before returning home through the almost deserted city. When the clouds cleared later, there was a thin skimming of snow on the top of the mountain. That's as close to a White Christmas as you're going to get here.

After an hours nap, I went out to my local for a couple of beers. But it's not the same after the best part of a bottle of bubbly at lunchtime - you don't get the same buzz. Then Adia phoned me to ask me to pick up some scones for her supper from the Njiro cinema/shopping centre. That was heaving - I've never seen so many people there, and they were all spending. I went to get Adia to come and see.

Back home it was soon my bed time, though there was obviously a party of some sort going on at the Silver Springs pub. I thought I'd probably had enough - must be getting old. The party went on late into the night, unsettling the dogs, and almost calling me from my bed.

Scroll down a little for full picture & text.
  Christmas Greeting

Every kind of happiness has its price. Life here is good, but it would have been great to see my children and grand-children at Christmas time, and to have helped my son with his pre-Christmas house move. But life is what it is, and I hope they will think kindly of their absent father and grandpa.

There are three people in the picture who have never been introduced. Top left is Lilly, Adia's niece, who has been staying with us for a while. Bottom left is Sippy, and bottom right is Kemi. All are from Kagera, and are probably the best team we've had yet.

The top dog is Hansel. Below, and partly in front of Adia, is Gretel, and Sippy is holding Siegfried. I'm in the middle looking anxious because the picture is being taken on auto by the camera which is balanced on a plant stand a few metres away - the dogs were quite excited, and I had to get to my position quite quickly.

The song is the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl doing 'Fairy Tale of New York' - not much related to the current scene, but one of my Christmas favourites. It's a potion laced with alcohol, sentimentality, bitterness, loss, love, and hope; just like the season.

I wish each of you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you all have a Prosperous and Happy New Year.

Brilliant red seed pods.

23/12/2010 - Another Bed Finished.

Well almost. I brushed it over with wood preserver this afternoon, and after that all I have to do is give it a coat of wax polish. Then I will have made eleven beds. A picture will follow when it has dried and is waxed.

When I was through with that, Adia and I went out to buy our somewhat frugal joint Christmas present - more plants for the compound. The frugality is justified by the fact that two of my children and a partner are visiting in January, and we are not 100% sure what that will cost, so we're erring on the safe side. We found a few plants that we had not noticed before, and I think we will be pleased with our present if they all take. The bush with the seed pods was on the plot of one of our vendors. The pods are a quite striking colour.

When we'd got those home and decided where they would be placed, I went for my ritual evening beers. Everywhere seemed deserted. I think people must be saving their money for Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. I'll tell you better tomorrow.

Adia went out to see her current traditional medicine practitioner, and when I got back she was still some time away. So it's Steve's beans tonight instead of Adia's beans. We'll see how those go down.

My current boot collection.

22/12/2010 - Do We Really Care?

As I observe what is going on in Ivory Coast, Sudan, Somalia, the DRC, Belarus, and lots of other places, I come to think more and more that tacit or statutory bans on the assassination of foreign state leaders, are sending out an incorrect message.

The potential perpetrator countries I am thinking about are the USA, the UK, and other members of the European Union, and any other country that values democracy, transparency in government, free speech, the UN version of human rights, and so on. It seems to me that these countries almost go out of their way to say "I'm on my back with my legs wide open, take me, take me."

Now I can understand why it is that politicians might vote for such rules. It's always comforting to think that nobody will kill you out of the blue for any mean, self-serving and generally nasty 'political' decisions you might make, or simply because you don't agree with them.

But if you can't stand the uncertainty of what people might do to you because of what you do, then maybe you should consider an alternative career.

I'll focus directly on the USA, which has the means. In Ivory Coast, Gbagbo has lost the election in the view of the USA, the UN, the European Union, the African Union, and you name it - or so they say. If he is allowed to continue on his present course, the civil war in the country will undoubtedly begin again - what choice do disenfranchised people have? Further innocent women, children, and men just wanting to go about their daily business, will be killed, or have their lives ruined, just because one man can't bring himself to give up power.

Make it easy for him. Put a cruise missile on his compound, and continue with such activity until he is either dead, or leaves the country. The number of lives lost in this way will with certainty be less than those lost in a resumption of the civil war. Why is this a hard decision - just because he's a politician does that make his life more special than those of ordinary citizens? OK, I know it's not going to happen, but at least park an aircraft carrier off the coast and promise the elected president air support if it comes to it.

The timid will suggest power sharing, but they should ask themselves if they have ever seen a case where this worked. In Zimbabwe it is a sham, in Kenya it is constantly hovering on the brink, in Sudan it will probably break up as soon as the South votes for independence, in the DRC I don't think it has ever even been agreed, and so on and so on...

OK, I rant. But at the least, all of us chocolate or cocoa addicts should go on strike for six months if we believe in democracy and have any compassion for the ordinary people of Ivory Coast. I shall start today - please comment if you will join me! Such a movement would make it temporarily difficult for ordinary Ivoreans, but it would also make it difficult for Gbagbo to pay his hierarchy of thugs, and if he couldn't, then he'd really be in the shit - they'd have no scruples about rubbing him out if he ceased to provide suitable service.

Change the rules. Don't rule out political assassinations. You may never have to do it, or maybe just do it once in a deserving case, but it would make some people think!

What Every Fashionable Dog Is Wearing.

19/12/2010 - News of the Day.

Sigi is still having skin problems, and at the moment he has a fungal infection between his toes. The vet says we should dip his feet in Gentian Violet solution each day for a week or so. Of course he had to taste the stuff too - Sigi can't resist trying anything that might be edible. He actually looks quite nifty in a punky sort of way with his purple feet and tongue.

A couple of items of Internet news have now appeared covering what appears to be a Mayoral election fiasco in Arusha. The ones I have seen are:

In our more normal life, we went to delve through the second-hand shops again today, but it was very hot, and after an hour or two I'd had enough. We were there earlier in the week, and in the course of the two visits I've acquired two pairs of new-to-me cowboy boots. Another fashionable dog - pictures later.

If I can organize a quorum, it might be a Chinese night tonight - it's a while since we had a Chinese meal. Oh, and also, I posted Ebook year 1974 today, so now I need to get started on 1975.

A Dung Beetle.

18/12/2010 - How Seriously Can You Take Religion?

The content of today's picture and text are perhaps unrelated. I don't know if the Quran, or subsequent hadiths had anything to say on the dung beetle. From what little I do know, I don't think Christianity or Judaism had an opinion on its activities either.

I was quite impressed by the beetle's efforts. As we watched, it rolled the ball of dung, much bigger than itself, across maybe 15 feet of road. It moved backwards - pushing with its front legs, and roling the ball with its back legs. Occasionally it would climb on top of the ball of dung to check whether it was heading in the desired direction. What lessons are there here for mankind?

Today I was seriously considering writing a post about the teachings of Islam, along the lines of things that the Quran (apparently the final statement from god on how the faithful should live their lives) fails to mention - subjects such as the H bomb, genetic engineering, and democracy. I don't need to attack the Bible and the Tora on the same grounds, since they did not claim to be permanently definitive.

But it turns out that I don't need to bother, and thus further commit myself to eternal damnation.

Someone else has already done much the same stuff for me. Check out the page Hundreds of Questions to Ask a Muslim. After a bit of fiddling, the page invited me to start a new article "Hundreds of Questions to Ask a Christian", but then it proceeded to tell me that any edits I made would not be saved. Editor - where is free speech?

The closest attack on Christianity I could find was at 10 Questions To Ask A Christian, and this was from an atheist web page. The situation is a bit one sided. Muslims should respond to the first page with a list of gripes about Christianity and atheism.

New Drivers License.

First 'Main Crop' Fig.

15/12/2010 - Lazy Day.

It's quite hot - maybe 27°, so I am resisting the temptation to buy wood and make more beds or whatever. It's tempting, but riding the motor scooter Kiki around creates more breeze, and keeps you cool. Last week it looked like the short rains might have finally set in, but it seems that all we're getting this week are scattered afternoon thunderstorms.

I got my spiffy new Tanzania drivers license on Monday. It will be interesting to see how long it is before the film peels off the front. It was supposed to allow me to ride Kiki, but the thing that turned up only shows a car, like the previous one. I've never been stopped driving the pikipiki so far. I guess I'll find out if it's important when I am. At the TRA when I was applying for the new license they didn't seem to think it was a big deal.

We've eaten two more figs. I was trying to leave them until they were really, really ripe, but the birds forced my hand. Birds love figs, so you have to pick them at the first sign of bird interest. That works out roughly so the birds get 1/3, Adia gets 1/3, and I get 1/3. Adia has now become a fig addict too. There's only one left now from the first few. When that starts to swell and ripen I'll try and find a way to make a little chicken-wire cage round it. Fig trees produce two batches of fruit a year. A small crop from last-year's wood, and then a main crop on the wood that has grown in the current year. The first of the new wood figs has just started to grow. I'm hoping there will be many more.

When they have ripened and been picked, the tree has to be severely pruned to generate a low spreading set of main branches from which new wood and figs will grow each year. I have to try to organise the shape so it will be possible to build a frame round it that can be netted when it has ripening fruit.

Speaking of addictions, Adia got another quite large shipment of Seseni (fried/smoked grasshoppers) from her mother in Bukoba on Monday, so she's now busy supplying the Kageran population of Arusha. Kagerans are all Seseni addicts, and actually since I've got used to them, I'm now not far behind.

13/12/2010 - Pictures Not Words.

Give away fruit.

Pretty flower.

Pretty birds.

Heavy mango crop.

You may wonder why I don't include more videos on the page rather than simple pictures. Well there are a variety of reasons.
  • My most competent video camera is too big to carry in my pocket,
  • Lots of my subjects are not really video material,
  • It takes a lot more skill and planning to make even a short video,
  • But primarily it is an issue of bandwidth - my Internet connection is such that testing pages of the web site that contained videos would just be too much of a pain.

10/12/2010 - Tanzania Events.

I'm working on some small tables - coffee tables, occasional tables, or whatever - to go with the big sofa. I'm going to make them so they more or less match the style of the dining chairs. They'll have a mninga top, and a steel undercarriage with the same feet as the chairs.

I had got two pieces of 9"x1" mninga from Harry's uncle before I discovered where I could buy mninga for myself. When they turned up I was not sure what to do with them, so they have stood about for some time, and consequently dried out pretty thoroughly. They'd seasoned well, and were still pretty straight and true, so I have used them for the table tops. I got them planed to the same thickness, and a good straight edge on each of them at one of the local machine shops. Then I cut them in half to make two tables - I don't have enough cramps to have glued them together and then cut the result in half.

Independence Day Parade.

The first table top got jointed yesterday, and the second today. After doing the second join I finish planed and sanded the first one, and gave it a coat of Linseed Oli. I've also made the feet for both of them.

Tomorrow I need to make up my mind about the exact form of the steel undercarriage, and find a steel worker who will get them done pretty quickly. I'd have started that before now, but yesterday was Tanzania's Independence Day, and today in the afternoon we had another long thunderstorm and heavy rain, so I'm a bit behind.

There was a local international football match today between Tanzania and Uganda. It was one of those goal-less affairs with extra time and then a penalty shoot-out. Tanzania won.

I tried to get a picture of the latter from the TV, but it did not work out, and amazingly I can't find a picture of either the match, or the Independence Day parade on the web. I figure you're all probably fed up with pictures of pieces of wood, so today is without a picture. I might graft one on later.

This morning (Dec 11), I did find an Independence day picture, but still no picture of the saved penalty that gave Tanzania the win over Uganda.

8/12/2010 - Good Old Bureaucracy.

Today it was my turn to go through the process of renewing my Tanzanian drivers license. Now given that I had one before, you'd think that would be fairly simple. Think again!

A whole new raft of law has been introduced, that is being tried out first in Dar and Arusha. It's quite 1984 like - I've never lived in a country where getting a drivers license was roughly equivalent to becoming a convicted criminal. To get the new license, Tanzania requires:

  • A TIN (tax identification) number, or if your'e a foreigner, your passport number and photocopies of the passport,
  • Your old Tanzanian drivers license, or if you are a foreigner, the drivers license corresponding to your nationality (your old Tanzanian drivers license doesn't count for anything),
  • Your digitized mug shot,
  • Your digitized fingerprints - all ten,
  • Your digitized signature,
  • $26 - it was $7 last time, and the new thing only lasts 3 years, same as the old one,
  • A visit to your local police station, where you can be required to redo the written parts of your driving test.
A lot of this could well be retribution against local Tanzania Revenue Authority staff for having issued so many drivers licenses purely for cash-in-hand in the past. To that end I have to applaud it - it's a step in the right direction against corruption. But at the same time, I can see it from the other side. Tanzanian civil servants, police, etc, get paid a salary that puts them only a little above the subsistence level. The cash-in-hand drivers licences were a supplement to a meagre existence. So there's a possibility that the people who know, or knew the system, may now leave and seek employment elsewhere. Then it could become very difficult to run the new system, and for people to get a drivers license at all.

Also, it's difficult to see why the applicant for a renewed license should come in for all this new flak, which does seem to be a large intrusion into freedom and personal privacy.

Arusha Rain.

A police officer stopping you for some traffic offence would not appear to need anything more than a picture on your license. There's no way your digitized fingerprints or signature are going to help him - they don't even appear on the license in a legible form. He most likely does not have a car or a motor bike, let alone one with a network connected computer.

If you think about the combination of these factors, it's going to become a big temptation for criminal organizations, or people baling out of the TRA, to invest in the equipment needed to counterfeit licenses. The policeman on the street does not have the equipment to check, and if a large proportion of people started to prefer those to the real thing, the underfunding would simply be magnified.

I don't actually get my new license until Monday. I'll show you it then.

We got caught in the rain after we'd finished our business at the TRA. Arusha city centre is prone to flooding, since all the roads that lead into its principal street, slope down from the north, and most of them have little or no drainage system of their own. In consequence most of the water ends up flowing onto Sokoine Road where the drainage system is then overwhelmed.

Nests in Our Giraffe Tree.

Eight Chairs..

6/12/2010 - Always Something New!

The very day after I posted the picture of the bower nests, I was down by our gate and noticed that in the Giraffe Tree next to it we had two similar nests built by the same yellow birds. They look brand new, and I'm sure one of us would have noticed them if they'd been there long.

I'm pleased because I like to see birds in the garden, and we have been getting increasing numbers of visitors. But the tree is very close to the parking space for the South House, and I can see complaints in the future if the birds shit on the car there. It may just be out of range - time will tell.

I finished the last of the eight chairs for the big red table today. Interestingly, with eight chairs round it, the table looks smaller.

At present, there are considerable variations in the colour of the leather between chairs. This is primarily because some of them have not had a coat of polish yet. But in any case, the newer chairs will soon darken with exposure to light, in just the same way as the wood colours will change over time.

My next job is to make some occasional tables to go next to the sofa in the living room. Adia is very keen to have those in place by the time my children come to visit us in January. After that I may have to return to chairs for some time. Two of our recent guests have said they want to have sets of chairs made. Whether this will develop into a firm commitment remains to be seen.

I think I have now got the retrospective music section of the page back into order. In the course of doing so I discovered that I had messed up on November by putting links there that were actually to December music. I have corrected the November page, and I think that it and the current page are now reasonably accurate except for MP3 files I have been unable to find.

The process of doing this was considerably complicated by an extended thunderstorm that started around four this afternoon, and rumbled on until just before dark. Lightening strikes were taking the power supply down at quite frequent intervals, to the point where I was hitting Ctrl-S after every few words of typing while it was on, and twiddling my thumbs when it wasn't.

Bower Style Nests.

5/12/2010 - Life Goes On.

The birds probably used this tree for their nests long before the road junction became a busy spot. Maybe it has favoured the birds in terms of edible refuse, but more likely it's just like the attitude of the great majority of the people of Africa. Shit happens - get over it!

Apart from my rather vague comments on the way the recent election was conducted in Tanzania, we now have a couple of dismal examples of the conduct of 'democracy' in Africa. The majority of African nations have a 'democratic process'. There are laws that state that elections should be held after a certain number of years. And for the most part, that happens. It seems that the existence of such process is accepted by donor nations as proof that only democratic countries are being given taxpayers money.

But in practise, this assumption turns out to be crap. If the election results don't come out the way that the incumbent president or government wanted, they are simply declared to be invalid. Just look at the situations in Ivory Coast, or Egypt to see what I mean.

Now the developed countries that provide billions in aid have problems of their own! They all have obscene government financial deficits. It may not be an enormous contributor, but the aid given to the African nations that don't understand democracy does come out of taxpayers pockets eventually. The politicians who make such spending decisions are trusted by their electorate, and they in turn apparently trust the opinions of the State Department. Guys, start tuning in on the Internet to the media in the states you are supporting. Read between the lines, and ask questions. Either that or just take my word for it, and say no!

The African electorate needs to be shocked out of it's complacency. Just because a party is called "the peoples' party" does not mean that is acting in your interest - you know damn well whose interests it is acting in. The primary motivation of politicians in Africa is to have power, and to line their own pockets. If you don't get what the government promised, then:

  • Never vote for them again,
  • Shut down their local office (tell them first so nobody gets hurt), and make the village party chairman a pariah,
  • Send text messages to all your friends to make sure they understand they are being ripped off.
It took over 700 years between Magna Carta - the first serious challenge to the absolute authority of the monarch of England - in 1215, until there was something approaching democracy in 1928 when women were given the same voting rights as men. In terms of world stability and plain old justice, we can't afford to wait 700 years until democracy becomes real in Africa.

Cactus Flower.


3/12/2010 - Still Behind.

If I have to present a list of excuses, they are:
  • I really want to get the dining chairs off my back (I am working on numbers 7 and 8),
  • It's been hot, which slows you down (my condolences to readers in northern Europe),
  • Adia has a table full of guests again, so there's a tendency to stay at the table and talk after dinner when I should be working on BEV.
Maybe tonight it will be quiet. It was an examinations day for some of our mature students, so possibly after that they'll hit the nightspots, then they'll be able to sleep without worrying about 'did I get X right?'. But, at the same time, to be fair, Friday night isn't the same here as it is in some other places. The rule is largely a six day week, so it's mostly TGIS, not TGIF.

Anyway, in our own little life, Adia went out and paid the outstanding monthly bills today, so now my financial management task is simple.

I just have to look at the bank balance regularly, divide it by the number of days remaining until pay day, and make sure the resulting number stays reasonably constant. If it doesn't, then there has to be a spending freeze for a couple of days to get things back in balance. If Adia's Place is making money, I try to ignore that so it will be left available for development projects.

It's quite likely that I never mentioned it before, but back in 2003, when I lost my job in NY City, I was obliged to file for bankruptcy, which was granted. I had a bunch of credit card debt that had accumulated as a result of continuing with an unsuccessful business venture for too long. Also I owed money on the VW Jetta I had at the time, that had to go in the process. New York State unemployment benefits did not even nearly stretch to making the payments. Some time this year, after seven years, I'll probably be an honest US citizen again. But also, I'll probably never know, since that was several countries, addresses and telephone numbers ago.

A primary result of that process is that I now have a high-level aversion to debt, so I'm fairly careful about financial management. I would love to go back to Manhattan for a month's holiday, with a fat wallet or a heavy debit card, but it's not likely to happen. I have to console myself with 'been there, done that.'

Back on the TGIF topic, it's not even chicken and chips at Boogaloo tonight, since in principle we have dinner guests. They'd better turn up! My traditional attitude toward Friday night is still alive and well!

Passion Fruit Buds.

1/12/2010 - December.

So here we are, embarking on the last month of another year. This seems to me to happen with increasing frequency - something to do with the ageing process I should think.

There's not a lot new to report. The Internet connection now seems to be sorted, but the power was out all day again. I went into town to get plumbing bits to finish off the public bathroom, and get another piece of Mninga to make the last two dining chairs. It was very hot - the sort of weather when I have to carry a towel about with me in Potter. It felt like a storm was coming, but it never really materialized.

A new passion fruit vine has grown along the south wall of our compound. Presumably from some seed left over from the compost heap that used to be there. Now we have been unlucky so far with Passion Fruits. We've had several vines, that we've grown intentionally or accidentally. They've all made good starts, but then just mysteriously died, or continued to thrive, but never produced any fruit. This one appears to be doing well at the moment. The first couple of fruits it produced were very large and promising. Now it has a slew of flowers and buds. If a third of them made it to fruit it would be a massive crop. I have my fingers crossed.

As an aside, I have a mystery visitor, possibly from Dallas, Texas. I've seen long sequences of hits from this IP address in the past that have looked like a crawler scanning the site. But this Monday there was another long sequence that did not follow the same pattern.

If you - the visitor - are human, please get in touch.

I have not fixed up the past years music links yet, since there was no Internet connection. I'll try and get that done over the next couple of days. version 3.0
If you can see this, you probably have JavaScript disabled, and BEV 3 will not work as designed."

Squash This List

Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1974.

1974 is WIP (work-in-progress).

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 68 year old Englishman - Steve Teale, started in January 2003. It's currently about life in Arusha (Tanzania), and previously in Bangalore, Manhattan, and the Bronx. It deals with life in general, building a house, food and drink, computer programming, opinion on current affairs, 20th century history, and so on. It may give you some insight into what life is like in 'the third world', or encourage you to visit Tanzania.

I started playing with it in January 2003, when I was living in Manhattan. At the time I felt I was going nowhere, and exposing the details of my life could be no worse than not. Almost immediately I changed partners, and quickly recognized that while I might be prepared to live in a goldfish bowl, other's weren't.

The same year I lost my job - recession, exhausted my NY State unemployment benefits, and got a job in India. Consequently a large proportion of BEV was written in Bangalore. India was OK, but I could not see what I was going to do there when I retired.

This uncertainty was resolved when I met my current partner Adia in 2006. She was a Tanzanian, studying law in India, so I came Tanzania in 2007. Here we have built a house, and made new friends. The rest, you can read on BEV.

At about the same time I had the ridiculous idea of extending BEV backwards to cover the years 1942 to 2002. So far I have got to 1974. For the years 2003 - 2010, choose a year/month from the tool bar. For 1942 - 1974, choose a year.

Visiting Tanzania?

If you have done all the usual tourist destinations, then make a leap and discover Africa! Come and visit Arusha, Tanzania.

You might be able to stay at - a great centre for safaris to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro, and of course our own pet volcano, Mount Meru.

Please feel free to contact us. We can tell you about hotels, facilities, prices of basics, etc.

We now have very pleasant bed and breakfast rooms available at $15 to $20 per night. The Old Cottage is also available for longer term visitors.

This Month's Posts

If there's something particular you'd like to go back to, just click it here

Top 20 BEV Pages.

Exchange Rates.

BEV Software Blog.

There are a couple of new items described on the current software blog post. The first is a site mapping script in PHP - this is what provides the new 'Site map' item on the BEV main menu.

There's also a rather convenient page that provides for translation of 'difficult' characters in computer code so that the result can be safely used in a web page.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

White Christmas.

Random BEV Poem.

60 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Phil Harris: The Thing

- Patti Page: The Tennessee Waltz

50 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Elvis Presley: Are You Lonesome Tonight? (comic version here)

UK Chart number 1

- Johnny Tillotson: Poetry In Motion

40 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- The Partridge Family: I Think I Love You

- Smokey Robinson & The Miracles: The Tears of a Clown

- George Harrison: My Sweet Lord

UK Chart number 1

- Clive Dunn: Grandad

Can't find an MP3 of this, and I can't honestly say that I'm sorry. However, it blocked out anything else for a full month. Try this instead - it could have been number one in December.

30 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Kenny Rogers: Lady

- John Lennon: Starting Over

UK Chart number 1

- John Lennon: Imagine (re-entry)

20 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Whitney Houston: I'm Your Baby Tonight

- Stevie B: Because I Love You

UK Chart number 1

- Cliff Richard: Saviour's Day

- Enigma: Sadness Part 1

10 Years Ago - Hits of the Month.

US Billboard #1

- Destiny's Child: Independent Women Part 1

UK Chart number 1

- S Club 7: Never Had A Dream Come True
Is this Karen Carpenter in a new life?

- Bob The Builder: Can We Fix It?

- Eminem: Stan

Contact BEV.

If you want to get in touch outside the built-in comment system, email Steve Teale.