Tuesday, 4 October 2005

State of Muppetry

How do you know when an African country is really in trouble? When there's no Coca-Cola to be had anywhere. If those guys can't get the deliveries in, something's screwed.

I am Concerned now with a capital C. I'm hoping it doesn't develop into full-blown paranoia. We're almost entirely out of food, and re-stocking will necessitate the 3-hour round trip to town. I can't even grin and bear it and live on Nsima, having just had to throw out two sacks of maize meal which were wriggling off the shelf of their own accord.

The whole country is YET AGAIN completely out of fuel. We have an emergency can of petrol, which would get us in and out of town to buy food, which is obviously necessary. But if we use the emergency fuel in that way, we have no way of replacing it right now. This is not funny when you live in the bush which is full of snakes and rabid wildlife and other Dangerous Things which might constitute a Medical Emergency.

It is an hour and a half's drive to the nearest hospital, or, five and a half day's limping if you have no fuel. The options seem to be (1) use the fuel to go fetch food and risk being stuck in the bush with no fuel and possibly dying some hideous death by attack of the monster locust, (2) Starve, safe in the knowledge that at least we have fuel to get to hospital if necessary.

Planning ahead is a waste of time here. As with the fuel, we try to have emergency cash, for the times when the ATM doesn't work. Thing is, it rarely works, so the emergency cash gets used up. As with the so-called emergency fuel. There are rumours of planned riots in Lusaka this weekend. What fun ho! Somebody somewhere needs to sort this stuff out. Me, I am signing up to become a biodiesel producer.

And for your amusement, below is a little test for anyone who is thinking of working in development:

Test: You are required to help your colleague resize some digital photos, which are only available on her hard drive, and email them to the UK office. Your colleague's computer is running Windup 88. It does not have email. The floppy disk drive is broken. Where there should be a CD-Rom drive is a gaping hole. It will take a memory stick, but no other computer in the office will. Some of the other computers have CD drives which work, some have floppy drives which work. No machine is fully functional. Two of the computers are randomly networked. There is only one printer. There is a portable CD drive which works sometimes. One of the computers which is connected to the internet has no email system set up on it. The only computer with email and internet is password protected and the person who uses it is not in the office. You have 30 minutes in which to complete this task. This is not a Rubix Cube.

I need booze...