Sunday, November 18, 2007

Indians and Red Indians

Today is the fifth day of the third month of the year 2000, according to the Ethiopian Calendar. Warm days 70F and cold nights upper 30s F.--------
At the University: The first week I was here two people asked me if I was a Red Indian. I explained that term was no longer in use and Native American was the proper term of today. And then I explain I am Asian-American, etc. One of these people wanted me to find photographs of Native Americans and I referred him to some websites. Many people I casually meet-on the minibus or in shops- ask me if I am Indian and I say yes as that is the easiest answer!

My colleague tells me that the Univ has been hiring professors from India for about 7-8 years to fill in where they do not have local experts. I take it that many Ethiopians are dismayed to see these people getting USD$1500 a month when the local people get less. I see Indians around my apt. building and on campus but they are very serious looking and go about their business. When I take the mini-bus to work, I see a few professors each week as well. One architecture professor and I exchanged phone numbers but she teaches on a different campus from the one where I am. Another one also talked to me-he is from the Informatics Dept. and came to visit my office last week.

I had an excellent appt. at the Embassy last week to discuss higher education resource needs in Ethiopia. There will be follow-up later & I look forward to working with them.

The local book vendor had not responded to our library's questions for about 6 months. I volunteered to contact them. They said they were not aware of a book list that was given to them in May. Anyway, things seem to be settled as the book vendor and his director came to visit me to smoothen things out.

Other: The US embassy held a concert with Addis Ababa's Millenium Committee in the Municipality Theater. I was invited and so were some of my colleagues from the Institute. It was crowded and filled with mostly Ethiopians. First we had some nice hors d'ouvres and soft drinks and I found some people from the Wildlife group. The group Chicago Trio played a series of light jazz and American folk tunes. Later, a group from the Yared Music School played serious Ethiopian songs on their string instruments. The Americans finished up with a few pieces accompanied by a sopranist.

Some friends and I decided to hear the popular Ethiopian singer, Teddy Afro (stage name), last Saturday even at the state owned Ghion Hotel and there were no chairs for the audience. We had to wait 2 1/2 hours to hear him sing and so we bought expensive drinks and food from the hotel. Teddy first started with new tunes which I did not know but later sang a new year song and then his favorites. It was excellent (he writes his own songs), but the cold was intense. My feet froze as it was in the upper 30s by the time we left at 1:30AM! I was surprised by the coldness as I had a long winter coat. Some of the women in the audience were wearing sleeveless tops, skirts, or dresses. But, I do not think they came jus to hear the music. We spent over 6 hours at this open air venue.