Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Sunday Afternoon Update

It is almost 3:00 on a Sunday afternoon. I am working in my office and watching a rainstorm approach. It looks different than most. It is wider and moving less quickly than usual. The airport, which is just a few miles to the east, is completely shrouded in rain. Here is is still dry, although it is windy and dark. It is hard to tell if the line of rain is moving, but I think it approaches slowly.

There have been a handful of things here that have been sources of growing frustration. They have left me somewhat sour. I don't want to blog about them, and so won't go into any detail. It is nothing major, and I am doing fine. But I am looking forward to being done with teaching.

I am definitely in the home stretch. There are only three weeks of classes left. During this time I need to do lots of grading of midterms. But I think the teaching itself is pretty much under control. I also need to help my three senior thesis students finish up. This will be a lot of work, but somehow it will get done.

After those three weeks Doreen arrives from the US, and my only work will be to grade the finals for my two classes. We will travel some in Tanzania, and will also likely do some traveling in Rwanda.

The line of rain seems be holding steady across the valley. The wind whistles around the building. There are windows in the office next door that don't really latch shut. They bang back and forth in the wind. It would not surprise me if someday they shatter.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Street preacher?

In the alley just to the south of KIST, which I can partially see from my balcony, a street preacher is holding forth. At least I assume he's a street preacher. I can't see him over the wall, but I can here someone talking. And talking. And talking. He's been at it for about 15-20 minutes and shows no sign of slowing down.

He is speaking in Kinyarwanda, so I can't understand what he is saying. There are occasional English phrases and I thought I heard a few French words, but I have no idea what he is talking about. From what I can see there is a crowd of a few dozen people who are listening to him. Five minutes ago there was a smattering of applause. Other than that the crowd is silent and motionless. They appear a little bored.

Thankfully he is not that loud. He is not amplified, and he is not even yelling. The preaching and singing and hollering from the nearby church is much louder, as are the calls to prayer that are broadcast through the neighborhood.

It is an odd place to be delivering a sermon, if indeed that's what it is. In Berkeley the street preachers usually set up on a reasonably busy corner. This is an street that is almost an alley. It gets very little traffic.

Yesterday was a day of cataclysmic rain. But it cleared in the afternoon and I was able to go for a nice run in the early evening. After a shower I zipped over to my favorite Chinese place and devoured a delicious plate of spicy tofu.

The end of the semester nears. Just four weeks left. It is the time of the term when the end is in sight. But it is not so near that one can just sprint to the end. I have a lot of work to do the next four weeks.

The preacher preaches on. His tone rises and falls. His cadence quickens and then slows. There are dramatic pauses. Sometimes I think he is done, but then he starts again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I am working, as usual, on my balcony. It is a little after 12:30am. It is cool and pleasant.

There is an unusual sound emanating from the south. I am pretty sure that what is happening is that it is raining heavily about a mile south of me. Here, I am on my balcony as usual, and it is dry. But the rain in the south is pounding the aluminum roofs in Nyamirambo, the neighborhood to the south of me.

The result is a remarkable sound. It is both soothing and gentle, and also a little eerie.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

May Arrives

I spent last weekend in Kibuye, a lovely little town on the shores of Lake Kivu. I relaxed, went for a few walks, ate some decent food, and enjoyed looking at the lake and the clouds and the mountains across the lake in the Congo. I got some good work done on the book. The last stretch involves doing a final proofread and making the index. I am about halfway done with both tasks.

Getting out of Kigali was nice. I like Kigali a lot, but the change of pace was great. It was quiet and peaceful. It was a very relaxing, and yet also productive, weekend.

I returned to Kigali on Monday. Although I got a lot of work done on the book, I was behind in other tasks. So I've spent the last few days getting caught up. Tuesday was a holiday, so my classes didn't meet. Today I taught Atomic Physics. Next week will be midterms in both of my classes.

There is not much other news. I spend my days working, shuttling between office and home depending on where internet works. Sometimes I work downtown. I teach, I grade homework, and I work some more. It is not a bad existence, although it is a little dull at times. I will try to post some pictures of Kibuye later in the week.

It is a little past midnight and it is a pleasantly cool evening. The scene is the usual. I am on the balcony. I can hear crickets and someone is playing a radio over in the science building. There are more lights on than usual. Perhaps many students are studying for midterms. It is week five of a ten-week term.

Tomorrow I will head to the embassy to do some photocopying. And my afternoon is booked with student meetings. In the evening I will probably go to my Chinese restaurant and get some spicy tofu.