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October 2011 in Tanzania through the eyes of an Englishman

An expensive mess.

31/10/2011 - The Joys of Business.

Our little incidents were less expensive that the one in the picture. We have a full house of guests at the moment, and on Sunday it was one of them's birthday. All the others agreed there should be a party, so we got in food and booze, and then most of them didn't turn up. Among those who did were some friends who are not staying here, who came with small children.

The latter proceeded to trampoline sticky birthday cake into our sofa, and to scribble on the fabric of it with blue Biro. I was not pleased with even this moderate desecration, so I can partly imagine how Harry felt.

The wreck in the picture was once a rather spiffy Toyota Landcruiser VX. It is probably repairable, but he may well have to bear the full cost out of his company's funds. The insurance company can wriggle out of it because there was no police accident report. The vehicle was being driven in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area by his son (which probably exacerbates the sensation) with

government people on board. We don't know exactly what happened, but whatever it was, the park police were only concerned with whisking the dignitaries away. Harry had to get the wrecked vehicle out of there as best he could, and as quickly as possible, since the park authorities charge an exorbitant daily fee for any vehicle abandoned there.

Adia had to turn down some potential guests today. They wanted a room for 30 days, and we could not do it because we are full for another week and also have a booking that will occupy all the rooms in late November. She'll be putting up tents on the lawn before I know it!

28/10/2011 - Going Quietly?

It's a while since I have ventured in this direction, which I'm sure many of you would say was no bad thing. But sometimes you can only paint a vague picture of things you feel, so here goes:

Mr Thomas says we shouldn't.
And I don't want to be a wimp,
so maybe I'll get bold tomorrow.

Inertia though's a powerful force.
What would my children say,
not to mention my dear wife?

Finding a new direction poses
the worst of problems - to be what?
A rebel once again, without a cause?

The old man's flipped.
Someone should put him right
before he ends in jail.

Sadly, balls don't grow with age.
More likely they have shrunk,
so the whole idea's a stretch.

I wonder if the poet observed
the warning he so eloquently gave.
But wondering's no good!

One has to choose and act.
Yes! Tomorrow would be fine.
Tonight I'll just go gently.

Checking This Morning.

26/10/2011 - A Close Run Thing.

We have been doing quite well for electricity, courtesy of the military base, but the water situation is now becoming dire. We have had none for about five days. Of course this just had to coincide with a flurry of guests.

Adia spent the morning at the water authority trying to persuade someone there to turn our village on for a while. Harry had a go too, as he knows someone there. I don't know whether money changed hands, but at about 18:30 we started to see some signs of supply,like some spluttering noises from a directly connected tap.

Unfortunately, when they do turn it on, the effect is far from immediate. We live at the crest of a ridge, and many of the houses fed by the same water 'main' are several metres lower than we are. So when the flow starts, it initially goes into their storage tanks, and it's not until they are full, and their float valves close that the the general level of the water starts to rise giving us a chance.

Adia, expecting to have a limited time to collect the precious fluid, rushed off and bought another tank, without too much consideration of where it would go, and how it would get filled. They must have seen her coming. Some guys brought the tank - a 5000L one - on a handcart. It was filthy, inside and out, and did not appear to have a lid. I think it is going back tomorrow. We won't be able to use it now, since we'd need reasonably high pressure water to even wash it out, and I doubt that we'll have supply for long enough to fill our existing tanks and that. Harry arrived a little later, apparently under a strict injunction to let the water people know when we are full so it can be turned off again.

If it is like this now, when we have just had some rain, then it is going to be desperately bad in December, January and February. Time to consider a borehole perhaps. As I left it last night, we were getting maybe 10L/Min. At that rate it would be 6 hours or more before our tanks were full. This morning, they were.

Crown Imperial.

24/10/2011 - Whose Idea?

So the move is afoot to abolish male precedence in the succession chain to the British Throne. I wonder whose idea this was. Queen Elizabeth II would be well justified if she had asked any of her Prime Ministers, or indeed all of them, "Have not I, and did not my Great Grandmother function as effective, or even great monarchs, for our time?"

I'm sure that there are many who consider the Monarchy to be an outdated institution. I reserve my position. Generally I think there's more to be said for keeping it that for abolishing it - better the devil you know, than the devil you don't. And as witnessed recently, it does allow us from time to time to put on a damn good show.

As an example of the disadvantages, think of all the tourist attractions that you could effectively destroy by declaring that the British Monarchy and its succession were an outdated artefact of history.

I am 100% for the proposal, and will be very disappointed if it does not sail through Parliament by common assent. But then, I am approaching my sell-by date ;=)

23/10/2011 - And Again!

Manchester City 6, Manchester United 1.

One of our guests had said he was going to Boogaloo to watch the match, so I decided I'd go along.

Utterly amazing! The club that is one of the most outstanding international brands beaten into a cocked hat - at home! I watched in disbelief as the pressure piled on. OK so they got a goal, but by that point City were home and dry, and could afford to relax a little and enjoy the ride.

So are the mighty fallen!

By now, not surprisingly, I am slightly drunk. A happy birthday/Christmas/rest of your day, to all my readers.

22/10/2011 - Shortest Ever BEV Post.

OK, so the fact that Gadaffi died of gunshot wounds poses some problems, but not as many as if he were still alive.

Before there's too much in the way of investigation, someone should take the body a respectable distance out into the Med and dump it with the traditional concrete block. If that causes problems, then there's always the response "sue me".

Those who live by the sword die by the sword.

Trying hard.

16/10/2011 - So What's New?

Well, Potters suspension makeover got completed. Adia got the front shockers and bushes, and a ball joint replaced this month. He feels significantly better to drive. The most annoying remaining area is the back lift-up window. The dampers have gone, so if you lift it, it will not stay open. We've been unlucky at finding replacements here. Also one of the hinge pins has worked loose, and it makes a really annoying squeaking noise. Several mechanics have had a go at fixing it, but with only short term benefit.

We've also done some work on our access road. We got a couple of the village lads to find some stones to put in the bottom of the most serious depressions, and then we got three truck loads of road moram to generally raise the level and flatten things out. I think it probably needs another couple of loads, but I shall let it settle for a while to see which parts need it most. It is much better now anyway.

The new cat Two got caught in the open by the dogs two days ago, and was only rescued by Adia in the nick of time. She's OK, just a couple of cuts and bruises, but it has set back our efforts to reverse her house training. She is used to litter in a tray, which is not ideal given that we have quite a large compound. It had got to the point where she was exploring outside, and might eventually have realized that she had an alternative, but the puppies will have put that sort of move back by quite some time.

She's a cute little cat, and has taken now to sitting on top of the printer in my little office to keep me company.

The last few weeks have been very thin guest wise. We've got some people coming later this month, and a bunch for the graduations at ESAMI booked for November, but we really need to push our efforts at promoting the place here. I need to turn my thinking cap in that direction.

There's a new page in the BEV portfolio. I've been working on a piece of software to allow D programming language programmers to connect to the MySQL database system in what is hopefully a convenient way. It's called mysqlD. I'm hoping to get some comments to determine if I'm going in the right direction - just one so far, but it is the weekend.

Close Encounters.

9/10/2011 - Fecundity.

Well, it has been raining some, but it's not clear to me yet that we are getting enough to fill the reservoirs and the hydro-electric dams. The plants are happy though. The little blue flowers along the edge of our patio especially. In the mornings after some rain, they are at their best. Everything is growing like crazy. Adia had Tuma spread some rotted chicken shit on the lawn, and we're going to be hay-making soon! On the down side, the roads are dropping to pieces as usual. There are some horrendous potholes on the tarmac Njiro road, and the road from there to our place has deteriorated significantly already.

We're still doing very well for electricity - however, while typing that phrase I instinctively pressed Ctrl-S to save my work. You need to do that often in Africa. The Internet is out though, and since it is Sunday we've probably seen the last of it until Monday morning. The provider is not too hot on the 24/7 thing. If someone who knows the boss needs the connection and calls him, it might come back.

We had a snippet of interesting gossip today. The guy who owns the land behind our house, and who presently uses part of it for making concrete blocks, is planning to sell it. The rumour is that it could be to a mzungu. If that's the case, and the new owner uses it for a residential plot then the value of our place goes up, since it improves the prospects for our access road and general area being only for residential traffic. As is is, the trucks/lorries carrying materials for the concrete blocks in, and concrete blocks out, cut up the road.

Of course, if the mzungu bought it to build a lodge ... Aargh! But at least they'd have to drive past our place first.

Close Encounters.

2/10/2011 - What a Difference a Month Makes.

The two cats can now coexist in the same room without too much in the way of hissing and howling. Two in fact, is quite relaxed. It's Cali who is still bearing a grudge about a new cat being brought into the house.

Last night it was as if the weather had been waiting patiently waiting for it to be October. There was a deluge of rain that must have lasted for about an hour, starting just after midnight. As always when it rains like that I was lying in bed having visions of our garden and car park being washed away. Eventually, after a bright lighting flash, and a very loud clap of thunder, it stopped as suddenly as it had started. Later in the night a steady drizzle set in that lasted until just before dawn.

This morning I went out with some trepidation to survey the damage. But there wasn't any. We must have got the drainage pretty well organized.

What else, well a couple of days ago, our gatekeeper was complaining to Adia of a bad stomach upset. She dragged him of to the nearest hospital to get tested, and it turned out that he had a UTI (that's a polite term for the Clap), typhoid, amoeba, and dysentery. Talk about a full package! So he's now on a supervised dosage of some fairly heavy medications. Adia does not trust men - me included - to take medicines. She knows we have a tendency to stop taking them as soon as we feel slightly better. So Tuma gets called to the house after breakfast and has to take his pills under supervision. She spent money on the pills, so they'd better get taken!

I've stopped working on COMPO now, until such time as I get some feedback. There have been quite a lot of visitors to the page, and a reasonable number of downloads, but so far, no comment from anywhere. So now I'm working on a another D project - an interface to the MySQL database system. That is now almost at the same point. I need feedback before it is worth putting any more effort into it.

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What is BEV?

Brits Eye View is the personal blog of a 69 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.

I've just posted some short articles on Getting Started With jQuery Datatables.

I started to use this recently, and while the result is pleasing once you've got it working, I found the getting-started documentation disappointing.

Moods of Meru.

Mt Meru

Pristine.

Random BEV Poem.

BEV Sponsors.

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Contact BEV.

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