Saturday, January 15, 2011

Life in Zimbabwe


Yesterday I went to Harare to conduct an interview for a doctor position at our hospital. We had asked other hospital board members to come and when we greeted each other I quickly discovered we suddenly had new greetings in Zimbabwe. This wasn’t Shona, Ndebele or English this was Zimbabwean! The new greetings go like this…”so we haven’t had ZESA for 10 days now, how about you?” “Yes, we didn’t have much except midnight until 5 a.m. all last week.” “We haven’t had water for 3 days, how about you?” “We have water but it smells like poop, how about you?” “We have water but without ZESA we can’t pump as much from our boreholes and the water table is down so it is not very clear.” “I’ve tried to call you and couldn’t get through.” “Oh our landline hasn’t worked in 2 months because of a storm, try our cell.” “Every time I try to use my cell phone it says network busy, why does everyone overuse the lines!” "How's your road?" Oh it is bad, so much rain and big holes, looks like a river bed all the way to Chidamoyo now!" "Yes, we got stuck at a river going home the other day for 4 hours!" We spend the first 5-10 minutes of greetings comparing ZESA , water, roads and telephone horror stories and then we can settle down to work!
Then we had to buy suture and so talked to the guys (middlemen) on the phone and they said they would meet me and bring some for me to see and buy. We met at an ice cream place in Avondale shopping center and used their table. The guys pulled the suture out of their unmarked backpack and I examined each one, negotiated the price and gave them the money. Our deal was done and we each went on our way. It quickly occurred to me this was like making a drug deal in public. Who really buys suture this way? Only in Zimbabwe!
The next stop was to go to the flea market to return some DVDs that I had bought earlier that didn’t work well. I went to my supplier and told him they didn’t play well and told him” if I couldn’t trust pirates who could you trust in this world?” He quickly apologized and gave me new ones that he “promised” were good. He also personally recommended some new ones for me. A personal NetFlick consultant—what more can you ask for in Zimbabwe?

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