Saturday, August 22, 2009

Saturday in Lilongwe

Today was my first saturday in lilongwe. I celebrated it by sleeping in till 9:30. Today I took care of some errands - bought a wifi card, got some basic necessities from the supermarket (shoprite). I also took the opportunity to walk around old-town Lilongwe (it is like 2 streets). I made friends with a tchatcha salesman - fantastic - who took me through all of his paintings. I wandered in an out of shops and stalls. Mostly I wandered and took pictures. I would like to go on a hike somewhere, or visit lake Malawi. Maybe next weekend. I still have not had any local Malawian cuisine. All the food here is european or indian. I had indian tonight in fact. I think Anthony Bourdain should do a No Reservations Malawi - to help foodies who travel here.

Today I also met with Josiah, a researcher at Mzuzu University. He stopped by Lilongwe on his way back from Blantyre (Malawi's capital). Sadly, we had an electrical outage in the middle of my RapidSMS demo and I blew the ac adaptor for my cell/modem. Damn you belkin power surge protector - you are worthless! The good news is that this will force me to integrate RapidSMS with a usb phone (like an ericsson). Josiah and I decided that I should o Mzuzu U and hold a lecture on RapidSMS, Django, and Python - so students/profs and use the system for their own projects and for data collection in the field. He's setting up a system for me and I'll be going there early Sept.

Thats about it - I wish I could upload the pictures, but the network connection is a bit slow. I attempted to ftp the pictures earlier, but I am blocked on everything but port 80.

Time for some reading, movie watching, some meditation, and a beer. These nightly beers cant be good for me - but it is helping me stay vegeterian - at least that is the excuse I am giving myself.

I have put down Development as Freedom and I'm now reading Globalization edited by Arjun Appadurai. It is a collection of essays about... Globalization - I am currently on the 3rd essay. The first two seemed a bit meandering, the high point was a colorful map of the vectors of movement and influence in Africa. I love maps. The third essay, though, is a lot of fun. Its by Andreas Huyssen on the contemporary obsession with memory - basically he is discussing modern obsession with museums/memorials and the creation of the Holocaust as a supra-national atrocities trope (where as the Rwandan Genocide for example is national - it is not used as a universal symbol for attrocities nor are there memorial museums around the world - as there are with the Holocaust). The essay just started to discuss the modern complaint that the art of memory is no longer taken seriously - people don't have to remember anything they just need to know how to access a memory (or piece of information).

I am totally obsessed with memory, and memory and the construction of meaning, memory and the construction of experience, memory devices like memory palaces, people with incredible memories - and of course, with the Alan Watts quote "Just as you need a memory, you also need a forgettory." The forgettory - also the name of my interminable novel ( a novel that I will now have to change to include a museum theme)

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