First full day in Malawi and that is all I have to say. Started off with a couple sessions on of the usual stuff which I won’t bore you all with here but then we did something that may draw your interest because it definitely drew mine. We were given a list of things to either go and buy or find information about in the market of Lilongwe. Most people decided to go in teams for this exercise but I figured hey, with 2 pages of sloppy notes on language and no sense of direction or reference points in the market I figured it made sense to go myself. So I started the journey and stopped 400 m later under a tree right before the start of the market. I looked down at my book, didn’t know half as much stuff as I did when I left so I looked up, smiled and walked right in. For anyone who has seen a market in India, it was essentially the same thing so I was comfortable in the fact that it wasn’t too different. Aside from that my first task was to get malaria medication which I found quite hard to communicate to a medical supplier because I was constantly referencing my book in these broken sentences. Eventually she laughed and responded in English and I felt like an idiot. This was generally the case as I went from store to store trying to find things, they all seemed to acknowledge and were happy about the fact I was trying to learn their language. I tailored my accent to try and help them understand me better while also understanding them better. I went about these missions as I picked up a phone and some credits. Next up was finding the cost of a minibus to Mchinji in which case English didn’t work and when I asked in Chichewa I was simply laughed at by 8 different minibus driversJ. I later learned that I had gone to the local bus station and not the bigger one on the other side of the market. Awkward experience but that’s how I learn best from mistakes. From there I proceeded to the Old Market where I had the task of finding Chimbuka. At this point I had no idea what that was so I roamed through the random alleys of stands asking some locals about it and got some laughs and some help until finally this guy pointed me directly across this bridge over a river and garbage. I proceeded over it until he stopped me for a toll of 10 kwatcha which if found surprising but just then someone else who just crossed gave him the same amount so I proceeded to do so. I forgot to mention this bridge was basically made of bamboo and had gaping holes so it was an interesting cross to say the least. I got across safely however and quickly managed to find Chimbuka which ended up being international beer. I made the bad choice of buying this and holding it in my hand as I walked back to the meeting point and was constantly greeted by “shake shake” or people just asking to sit and have a drink with me. I got some laughs, met some great people, and didn’t drink the beer since it didn’t really look or smell appeasing and even though I want to integrate into this culture, I should never be too uncomfortable doing so. After this we went to a Malawian household where I learned to make and ate nsima with some awesome rajma which I know would make my mom happy. I also had some chicken, fish and peas which were quite a delight from the very welcoming family. So yea, that sums up one full day in Malawi and I feel like I still missed so much in this blog.
Guess the title makes even more sense now.