Manhattan seen across the Hudson river from New Jersey.New York panorama image

June 2012 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

Zanzibar in relation to the mainland: What price autonomy?

Zanzibar in relation to the mainland.

27/6/2012 - Republic of Tanzania?

Recent discoveries have pushed up the natural gas reserve estimates for Tanzania's offshore region to 28.7 trillion cubic feet. That is getting to be quite significant in international terms, and the country should soon become a significant exporter. Furthermore the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that East Africa's coastal region holds up to 441 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, so there's likely to be a lot more found yet.

This is probably a major factor, or more likely the major factor in the wrangling that is going on about Tanzania's constitution revision. The hot cookie question at present is whether the 'union' with Zanzibar should be maintained, or broken. President Kikwete, when introducing the commission to develop the revised constitution, ruled such discussions 'out-of scope'. But with all the potential wealth involved that seems to be a pious hope.

One of the reasons why there has not been more gas exploration already is that there has been wrangling going on about revenue sharing in the oil/gas blocks around Zanzibar. Clearly an independent Zanzibar would expect to get a significant chunk of territorial water, but I would not like to be on the negotiating team that discussed this topic. Zanzibar is, as you can see from the map, minute in comparison with the mainland, or perhaps I should say with Tanganyika, since it could be called that again sometime soon. What shape its territorial waters would be is anyone's guess. The mainland would be arguing for a narrow strip, not much wider than the length of the island from north to south, going out to the popular limit in such waters of 200 miles, with the Tanganyikan waters extending to the same limit elsewhere. The Zanzibaris would probably have a different suggestion.

However the allocation turned out, if Zanzibar's area turned out to be the prime gas/oil production area there would be cause for considerable friction between the two neighbours!

Even as things stand, it's difficult to see why the union is called "The Republic of Tanzania". Most people think of a republic as having one president, but Tanzania has two, one for Zanzibar, and one for Tanganyika.

There are also cultural forces pushing the drive for separation. Tanzania as it stands is roughly one third Christian, one third Muslim, and one third 'Traditional Beliefs'. But a substantial proportion of the Muslim population is in Zanzibar, where Islam is predominant. So there are the usual Islamic separatism motives also driving the discussion, inflamed by the prospect of future massive gas revenues.

It seems likely to me that the discussion will get a lot hotter before it gets any cooler. Either way the presence of the gas resources remains a fact that could radically change the economic circumstances of the, or of or both countries.

The subject: Described elsewhere as a 'timorous beastie.'

The subject.

26/6/2012 - More Nonsense.

Owed to a Mouse?

I do thank you mouse, for coming here,
to fill the women with panic and fear.
But tell me now please, how much I owe,
for you to pack your things and go.

Perhaps I should get down on my knees,
and offer you a piece of cheese.
Or I could put poison in your hole,
and further tarnish my mortal soul.

Why am I pandering to this creature?
Well, the Scottish Bard made him a feature.
What this lesser man has attempted latterly,
is just imitation, in sincere flattery.

Ok, ok, I'm pushing my luck again! Also I apologize about the stereotype of women's fear of the rodent. But it's the first rhyming verse where I've ever got through to the end in even a half satisfactory way.

Great prawns: There must have been a mistake.

Great prawns.

25/6/2012 - More on Food.

I was having a beer at JKT this evening thinking about what I might cook for supper. I had settled on prawns with a sauce made from ground cooked beans, garlic, and onions, and served with pasta. The reason I leaned in that direction was that a few days before I had bought a pack of good-sized frozen prawns that for some reason had been consigned to the freezer.

As it turned out, Adia had beaten me to it. When I got home, the meal was already a done deal. It consisted of the beans I had targeted, in a typical sauce, rice with some potatoes cooked within, stir fried cauliflower with turmeric, and the prawns.

Now you know what frozen prawns are usually like. You put them in a stir-fry pan over a brisk heat, then within seconds they are afloat in a pool of water that was pumped into them to get the mass and volume up. When you've boiled that off, and they are cooked they are about a third of the size they were in the frozen pack.

But the ones we cooked today miraculously maintained their size, and when cooked they tasted like fresh tender prawns, not like cardboard. It was a wonderful meal - everything was just Goldilocks. Tomorrow I shall go back to the shop and see if there are any of the same batch left, and if there are I'll buy the lot!

I should also comment further on another of the ingredients of the meal. Knowing my penchant for (or I should probably say obsession with) potatoes, Adia usually includes a few when she cooks rice. African rice generally gets a longer cooking time that the Indian varieties, and it turns out that when the rice is cooked, the potatoes are spot-on. In fact, try as I may, I can't get the texture she achieves by boiling or steaming them. Just a tip, try it and see how it turns out for you.

Hard cheese: I bought it at the trade fair last weekend.

Hard cheese.

20/6/2012 - Thinking of Food.

I guess I am hungry, but it's a bit early to eat yet.

When we went to the trade fair at the weekend I bought some cheese made by some Massai outfit somewhere close to Arusha. I'd bought their cheese before, but just the standard grade. That was a bit like Edam, which is not my favourite cheese by a long shot. This time though I bought their 'mature' variant, having tasted a sample at the stand.

The next day I attempted to make cheese-on-toast with it, but it was far too hard. It was a battle cutting a slice off. I think that the piece I tasted must have been something else. Last night though it found its niche. I made Spag Bol, and grated on the fine side of the grater, the hard cheese made a good substitute for Parmesan. When it is finished I shall definitely get some more for the same purpose.

I think I am just about through with the software I've been working on. I'll do another day tomorrow, tidying up, and putting it in as a replacement for the existing system. But then it's time for a change. I need to be doing something that's more like exercise. I'm thinking about broad shelves for the end wall of our dining cum living room to hold the audio system and such things, with ducting to conceal the mess of cables. It's either that, or getting a repeater for the compound's wireless network and finding some place to put it where it can provide a better signal for the two small houses.

The Scribe at work: This is how I feel tucked away in my broom cupboard office.

The Scribe at work.

16/6/2012 - The Stuff of Stories.

Words are like cats,
always tricky to marshal.

  Dreams are like bats,
  flying silent at night.

    Families, like mats
    are well trodden by all.

      Temptations, like rats,
      one is always close by.

        Opinions like hats,
        worn to suit an occasion.

          Theories - vast vats
          of sublime speculation.

             And faith, lacking facts,
             is always a staple.

All-in-all: That's
what a good tale contains.

Sorry - I thought of it while half asleep yesterday morning and today - couldn't resist writing it down.

The KARIBU fair - quite impressively organized.

The KARIBU fair.

13/6/2012 - Small Talk.

I'm still busy programming, so I don't have that much to talk about that will be of interest.

The number one item is that Potter is back in action. Harry's car electrics fundi turned up on Saturday with a new solenoid switch and brushes, and now the starter motor is functioning properly again. There had been some delay because the man had taken the trouble to go to a dealer in Moshi, some 80km to our east, having failed to find the switch at a sensible price in Arusha. I appreciate it when somebody thinks about my pocket rather than just getting the job done and getting paid regardless of cost.

So having Potter back we were able to take a trip out on Saturday afternoon to Arusha's KARIBU Travel and Tourism Fair. This is a tented event held in a large field next to Arusha's airport. It was quite an impressive sight it terms of tentage as you approached along the Dodoma road, and the car park was like a rock concert with many, many cars arranged in neat rows, under supervision.

Once you got inside it shrunk a little, but it was still quite an impressively organized show. We wandered round and collected cards from companies who seemed at all likely to take advantage of Adia's Place. I must email them today.

We're down to one guest at present, and if no others show up, we are intending to visit Zanzibar for a few days, having been offered complimentary hotel accommodation. We'll just have to find the air fare and some pocket money, and the air fares to Zanzibar are low at this time of year. I'll keep you posted on that.

On the bloody computer: Me in my untidy office where I have been for the last N days!

On the bloody computer.

7/6/2012 - A Changeover.

Having burned the midnight oil sitting in front of the "bloody computer" for some time now I have today uploaded a hopefully improved version of the 'BEV News Feed'. Adia is probably contemplating divorce.

This now replaces the previous comment system in the menu of the BEV home page (but not in other pages at this time).

It's not finished yet - when was software ever finished? But it is a lot more complete than it was before. Now of course I repeat my exhortation to readers to give it a try. I can't mend it if I don't know what's wrong.

Yesterday, while I was doing this stuff, Adia had spiffy new Aluminium windows put in the Old Cottage. If she had not dragged me out to help with the process I would probably not have noticed. I have to say it does look much better now - gives much more of a sense of cohesion and unity of design to the compound. Now I'll want to paint the roof red.

Sitting comfortably? The seating arrangement at a wedding we attended. More like a boring concert than a party!

Sitting comfortably?

6/6/2012 - June.

It is still very chilly by African standards here in Arusha. Maybe I'll make it one of my projects before next year to make a small charcoal or wood burning stove for our living room. I could put a flue-pipe through the wall with a cap to cover its end in the warm weather, when the stove would be removed, and a sleeve to attach the stove in the winter. It bears thinking about.

So, what's been going on? Well not that much really. The cold weather seems to slow everything down. The gang of guests we had has gone. Now there's just one, and Annemarie in the old cottage, but you never see her these days. So it's pretty quiet. Adia is catching up on her lost sleep.

I'm still programming. Regular readers will have noticed that I have

changed the tooltip thingies that pop up to tell you more about images and other things. The new ones were initially based entirely on CSS, and should have been pretty portable between the modern browsers. But I discovered a couple of days ago that they were creating havoc in Google's Chrome browser, so I have been in a state of panic trying to get them sorted. They now look the same, but are done with a combination of CSS and Javascript. The things I discovered along the way will form the basis of a couple of software articles.

We went to a wedding reception on Saturday night. Adia had been involved in the fund-raising committee, so we were more or less bound to go. It was pretty dire, The hall was laid out with many rows of chairs, so once you'd got seated there was little possibility of social interaction. There was beer, but just sitting there drinking got old pretty quickly. I gave it an hour and then said I wanted to leave, but Adia felt obliged to stay longer. I waited in Potter, and walked around the environs for some time before she emerged. On Sunday she went out with her fiend Susan for some quality girlie time. I opted for a limited pub-crawl in the ensuing free time, and got quite drunk, but pleasantly so. Met some potential new friends who I must remember to call.

Two articles,

are now posted in the Software section.

 BEV Micro-Blog  

Squash This List

Check out the BEV retrospective
currently covering 1942 - 1975.

1976 is yet to be started.

What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 70 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 1975. For the years 2003 - 2011, choose a year/month from the tool bar. For 1942 - 1975, choose a year.

Visiting Tanzania?

Adia's Place now has On-Line Booking. Please feel free to check it out. It may not be 100% yet, but if you get a confirmation email then it's a safe bet that we got your booking.

In the short term we will re-confirm.

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 $20 per night. The Old Cottage and the South House are also available for longer term visitors.

Studying in Arusha?

Some of the major study centres in Arusha are at Njiro. There, you'll find the Arusha Institute of Accountancy, ESAMI, and TRAPCA.

If you are not happy with the accommodation there, you are only a 5 minute drive from - a secure haven of tranquillity with African food like your mother cooked for you. Price is competitive with the on-campus accommodation.

Just call Adia - 0762 442888 - and she'll come and get you and show you her place. You won't regret it!

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's a new article on implementing persistent login. I had to do it for the newsfeed, so I thought I might as well make some notes.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

Lofty and remote.

Random BEV Poem.


If you are a Linux user, you might want to try this piece of graphical design software I worked on last year. You can use it to design business cards, labels, logos for your web site, and things of that sort.

You can download it from the BEV COMPO page, where you'll also find the documentation.

BEV Partners.

Please check out our partners page.

BEV extends thanks to:

If you would like to advertise on BEV, or to contribute toward its running costs, please check out the sponsorship page.

Contact BEV.

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