Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Friends & Neighbors & Colleagues at Work

My apartment building consists of about six floors and was built in the 70's by the socialist Derg regime. On my way to work catching the mini-bus communal taxi, I have met some university employees who reside in the Bole Road area. First was Adnan, an Egyptian professor in the School of Pharmacy. He has recommended a local plumber for our usual water problems. This kind professor has introduced me to some other Egyptians in the building and we have had some chats and hope to eat together soon. I have also run into some Americans, an Indian informatics professor and an Architecture professor, Sofiya, and some physicians.

The wildlife and horticultural society also introduced me to local Ethiopians like Kassaye and Zewdu who know a great deal about the landscape and nature. Masaret and Ruth are friendly and nice to hike with. There were some Ethio-Americans like Tsion who are fun to talk to about life in the US vs life in Ethiopia. And, more Americans and some new British friends like Sally and Elizabeth. One of my trip roommates was very nice South African named Penny from Durban & hope to stay in touch with her. Marcel from Belgium shared some nice photos with us.

At work, I came here because of my contacts with Rita and Richard Pankhurst who have lived in Ethiopia for 50 years now. They are still going strong. I see them almost weekly at the library acquisitions meeting, or the Society of Friends of the Inst of Ethiopian Studies meetings and lectures. My primary contact with the Library here has just left his position. Ebrahim was very helpful via email before I arrived and after I got here. I would ask him all sorts of work or cultural questions. I now work a lot with Daniel, a new librarian, and some with Mahalet. Terefe, a museum guide, has been very helpful and kind as well. There are numerous good secretaries and assistants who are friendly and ask about my health a great deal. (I have had a string of colds and coughs since I arrived and that seems to be a daily part of our conversation.)

Then, at the Kennedy Library there are some helpful staff like Aynalem and Behailu who I occasionally have tea with. Outside of this university I sometimes see Ato Simon and Girma who now works for Alpha University, one of about a dozen new schools that have mushroomed up in the past 2 years. A friend from the embassy, Yerusalem has been helpful mostly with work projects. And my friends from the past-Bizayehu who drives a 25+ old taxi -and his friend Eschetu who helps me with errands. I also visit my former landlord and landlady, Getachow and Askala. They have invited me for a meal and coffee and at times tutor Kokebe who just graduated from nursing school.

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