A couple of weeks ago I was visiting Kenya. It was a big change in many ways for me. It was my first visit in sub-Saharan Africa, although I already know some people from there, it was really interesting to experience a different way of living and the friendliness of Kenyan people.
Before going there, I had already read about some cultural differences. Even the conception of time seems to be different in Africa. But now I'm back to Finland. And it's cold, very cold in here. I really have hard time readapting myself to the weather, but I guess I have already readapted myself to the stress and the busy life. Unfortunately.
Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.
Yesterday I was going to see my friend, who is originally from Africa.
I had said I'd be there at 17.30. and for me it really means 17.30.
When I was walking, it was so cold, that I decided to pass through the shopping center. Just so that it would be a little bit warmer.
Then I remembered, I would have to close my telephone subscription, and there it was, the shop where I could easily do that. I thought, as I still had 15 minutes left, that I would just pop in and very quickly get this thing done, so that I wouldn't need to come back here another day to do it. For one second, I wasn't too sure if I should do it now, if it takes more time than I thought it would, but I thought, as it was already late, there wouldn't be so many people there, and I could try anyway.
I took my waiting number. And saw that it was very slow. In the shop they were just trying to sell new phones and stuff, I felt that it took ages. Then i thought, maybe I should leave, because my friend must be waiting for me. But I thought, as I already waited for 10 minutes, it would be wasted time if I didn't stay and do this now.
It was already almost 17.30, so I sent a message to my friend that I would be a little bit late. I didn't feel good at all, as I just didn't want to wait there, and I was hungry too.
I started to feel very angry. It seemed as if this was just ridiculous, the people working in the shop didn't even try to make things go faster, one was even drinking her coffee behind the curtains, I saw it! She must have seen that there was a huge queue and the people really didn't like to wait there. I had been waiting for almost half an hour now. That's when I heard this song on the radio. Ironic? Indeed. Sometimes the situation really is like it says in the lyrics of the song: "It's like ten thousand spoons when all you need is knife".
I really tried to just accept the situation but as I was already very anxious, I asked one salesperson how much time this would still take, because I would just like to close my telephone subscription and it shouldn't take long to do that, instead of those customers who are trying to decide what kind of phone they're buying. I even asked, if it was possible to leave a piece of paper with my information on it, so that they could do it themselves, as I was busy and I didn't want to wait any longer. I even thought I should leave, but I think if you have been waiting for 30 minutes and you're already late because of it, you don't want to leave without having this thing done.
The salesperson said that it would not be possible. I said I had thought this wouldn't take this long time.
- You shouldn't be thinking that, he said and continued to explain all the good things about iPhone4 to another customer.
Now that makes you feel better, doesn't it?
He said that he would anyway need me to sign the paper, so that's why. OK then.
The only possibility was to wait some more. Let's just wait then.
Then I tried to just forget about the situation and waited until it was my turn. Really, it didn't take more than 2 minutes to close this subscription once it was my turn. And I didn't have to sign any paper at all! What the...??
Well at least now I got this done. Then I walked to the restaurant and my friend even wasn't there.
Yes, that's right. Well, I thought it's normal, because even last time he was late and I had to wait for him for 20 minutes. And that time I thought maybe I was in a wrong place? But no problem with that, once you know that's normal for him.
Well maybe I should start not to worry if I'm late. But for some reason I have the feeling it's my bad if I'm late, even if it wasn't.
But just like this time, I don't know if it's possible to know weather I should have went to the shop or not. You never know how long it takes. I was wrong thinking it would be a piece of cake, when it wasn't.
And when you're trying to be in time everywhere, it gives you so much pressure, because things just don't go the way you want always. You can't make the world adapt to your timetable, but maybe you should adapt your timetable. This meaning, maybe somebody has to wait sometime, or like in this case, maybe not.
My friend arrived just after me.
Would I be happier in a place where it's not that bad to be late?
I would just concentrate on the things that I'm doing, not on the things that I should be doing in 15 minutes, and hurrying to do other things to get there in time. If you continue like this all the time, you can never stop. You can never feel that you have enough time to do anything. And I don't have...
But living in Finland it must not be easy to live in African time, I guess you just can't first go out and then start thinking about where to go, because it's too cold out there. You first have to think where to go so that you can actually run to the place and not be totally frozen.
I think maybe in summertime Finnish people also get a little bit more relaxed. Can't wait for the summer!
Let me now share with you a poem written by an immigrant who's originally from Iran.
The sun ran away from the sky
No it's not right
clouds being released from the far away heat
are licking the lights with greed
The rain hammers upon the sunny roof of the beach
and swears "it's summer, Finnish summer
Don't hesitate, take time to enjoy,
if you have gloves and scarf with you."
poem by Kiamars Baghbani
Translation Marzieh Sabetghadam
I will be writing more about my experiences in Kenya soon.