28.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 5

So things have cooled down significantly here in Kumasi. Either that, or I'm slowly starting to get used to the sweltering heat that is a reality of living in a country along the equator. I can say for certain that experiencing equatorial heat in Ecuador was a great precursor to the temperatures of rainy season Ghana.

Leah and I work at Kapital Radio, the "heart of music" in Kumasi, Ghana, as observing journalists (read: be as furniture, and twice as silent,) and co-producers of "Know Your Rights", Ghana's only human rights radio show. It's pretty wicked. Our coworkers are awesome - very friendly, very curious about Canada and Canadian journalism, and they seem to love teaching us nonsensical words in Twi and watching us attempt pronunciation. The three great loves among them seem to be, in no particular order, futball (Barca, Man U, and Chelsea are the favourites here, as well as the national team, the Black Stars, and Asante Kotoko, the local squad in Ghana's premier league,) cell-phones (I've received plenty of comments about my "big man" phone, which is my brother's old blackberry, which I have NO idea how to use,) and Christianity. Already within the span of two weeks, we've had multiple indepth conversations with our colleagues about religion, with poor Leah getting blasted for professing to be an agnostic, something which many Ghanaians just can't seem to understand. The concept of not believing in anything is foreign to them. I get off easy because I "confess" to being a Christian (sorry) though I don't have half the zeal (sometimes over the top, always well-intentioned) of Ghanaian Christians.

Days are long at Kapital, where we start at 8am and usually leave the office around 6:30pm... (do the math, that equals a 10.5 hour work day. yeah.) We walk there from the Presby Guesthouse (our humble abode for the rest of the summer,) which is about 30 minutes each way with grueling inclines (I can finally say that I have to walk uphill both ways to get to work!), sketchy sidewalks that lead into oblivion, and hordes of marauding mosquitoes that love nothing more than to feast on obruni blood. Leah's getting it worse than I am, however... guess they know she's half white, and is therefore half delicacy. By the time we get to work, we've downed our Nalgenes, are soaked to the bone with sweat, and usually need to sit for about an hour before we stop sweating. it's a lovely time.

Anyhow, I'll cut it off for now as this is getting lengthy. Thanks for continuing to keep up with my adventures, and make sure to check out my official work blog posts at www.jhr.ca/blog, where I'll be posting my "professional blogs" or something like that. If ever you find them too business-like (which they probably will be, as this IS a job that I'm doing,) then check back here for all the nitty-gritty personal perspectives on what I am loving and loathing about my time here. Here's something juicy: I HATE LEAH (just kidding.)

ok peace

22.5.11

Happy belated Mother's Day.



Creds to Petey Ko, Mendel Uy, Adge Lui, and yours truly. Peace y'all.

19.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 4


This is an open sewer. They line the roadsides of every town and city in Ghana. They collect rainwater, piss, garbage, and animal and human feces. Guess who stepped in one today.

FML

17.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 3

Hello from Kumasi!

So after four days of legit pre-placement training in the capital city of Accra, we hopped on a bus to Kumasi. In this case, 'we' is Leah, Lin, and I, as Raquel and Alyssa were off to Takoradi by way of tro-tro* HARHAR. The five hour ride north to Kumasi was rough; I shudder to think what it might have been like in a tro-tro.

*a tro-tro is like a mini-bus... and the driver pulls over at random while the mate screams out the destination and people scramble to the nearest tro-tro heading to their destination and you get real close with your tro-tro buddies because you're both sweating onto each other and making a right mess and the whole deal costs less than it does to think about taking a bus back in Canada.

Anyway, once within Kumasi city limits, the bus driver kicked us off in the middle of a chaotic downtown street with literally hundreds of people milling around, hawking wares and yelling Tvi and there is poor little us, sweating like eskimos in a sauna, hauling around too much luggage worth of camera equipment and lightweight clothing, and very obviously with no idea of what to do.

This is when the cabbies pounced.

First, they tried to put our bags in one cab and us in the other. I was like, 'mahfka, no.' Then they tried to convince us we needed to pay for their bag-hauling services, and I was like, 'mahfka, no.' Then they tried to hustle us for 10 cedis and I was like, 'mahfka, no!' Anyway, we finally reached Kapital Radio, where we met the infamous Mufty** (made infamous by Laura and Ashley's stories.)

**Mufty will be our mentor at Kapital for the next 2.5 months. We'll be producing his show "Know Your Rights" every Saturday evening, the only show exclusively dedicated to human rights in all of Ghana. Gonna be dope.

He shook our hands, showed us around, and then brought us to the Presby Guesthouse, our supposed home for the next 2.5 months. Problem is, they want to charge 20 cedis a night per person, which would come out to 600 cedis monthly, which would come out to $450 for rent, which is what I pay in Ottawa for a much bigger, much less hot place, so I was like, 'mahfka, no!' Anyways, we're staying there tonight while Mufty tries to find us something better. Hopefully he is successful.

That's all, really. Some quick observations about Kumasi:
1. Less hectic than Accra.
2. Less noisy than Accra.
3. Less dirty than Accra.
4. Less white people (obroonies, or "foreigners") than Accra.
5. Hotter than Accra (fml.)

We had jollof rice for supper. As we have for the past four days. What I wouldn't do for a poutine right now...

14.5.11

Ghana Updates: Episode 2

Ok, so we've been in Accra for about a day after almost a full day of travel yesterday... if anyone ever tells you the Toronto to Brussels to Lome to Accra flight is nice and relaxing, they are bare-faced liars and should be shot.

On that note, I would love someone to shoot me with a watergun right now because I am about two seconds away from dying of heat exhaustion. Seriously, if anyone ever tells you that Ghana in May is not hot, they are bare-faced liars and should be shot.

On that note, I would muchly enjoy if somebody shot my dumb ass for losing my brand new BPA-free Nalgene bottle LESS THAN 24 HOURS after landing in Ghana, and with a full load of what the locals call "peer wata" (loosely translated to pure water,) in it too! Left it in a cab after getting too excited bargaining for a good price. Now I'm stuck with my old, trusty Nalgene that has been with me for years and is very much NOT BPA-free. New health concern for this summer: cancer.

I've got 11 minutes left on my time at this internet cafe in Osu neighbourhood, Accra. I think I will promo this on facebook, check my email, see how the Bulls are doing, and look up some fancy Ghanaian phrases to try out at dinner tonight.

Next update will most likely come from Kumasi, unless I manage to get here tomorrow. Be blessed, y'all.

11.5.11

This is excellent. Courtesy of http://www.tickshady.com

-----
"A few rules.

1.Never stop thinking. This is important. If someone ever says to you ‘You need to stop thinking so much,’ call them ignorant in your head and keep thinking deeper. It is this mentality that breeds stupidity and sheeple. Your mind is the most important tool you have, if you stop using it, it will atrophy. Question everything.

2. Stare into space blankly and don’t mentally punish yourself for doing it, even if it is for that split second. If you have a problem with staring blankly, think of it as daydreaming.

3. Root Beer sucks after having spicy food.

4. Everything is going to be just fine. If you worry about acne, you’re going to get a fucking pimple.

5. Don’t be afraid to talk about anything. You shouldn’t be afraid of reality.

6. Everyone is a hypocrite.

7. You are all original. Every life experience is case sensitive and unique. Every time you wake up or go to the bathroom or quote someone else, you are becoming more you than anyone has ever been.

8. Do pointless things. Don’t actively restrain or hide yourself from the redundant.

9. Stop rushing. Shut up and embrace the sound of silence.

10. Religion shouldn’t be taught, it should be found. No one should tell you what to believe except you. And while were on the subject…

11. Don’t be restrained by one religion. People change every moment of everyday. Minds grow and evolve. Religion has no law so feel free to mix and match. Make your own.

12. Going to the bathroom is not a right nor a privilege. it’s an act of nature.

13. Talking to yourself is healthy. Is there anyone that you have more in common with?

14. There is no such thing as time. The sun never sets or rises. Days and years don’t exist. There is only your life. Earlier today you were born and death is predicted later in the evening.

15. We will always be in a transitional phase. Look outside and know that everything will be replaced at some point. This existence is temporary.

16. Its not half empty or half full. Its half a glass.

17. Every now and then take something that you see everyday and try to see it in a different light. Renew its existence.

18. Be happy, but don’t force it.

19. You will always succeed in trying.

20. We are all crazy. Every person you read about in the history books had some kind of ‘disorder’, they just knew how to use it.

21. We are all about as similar as we are different.

22. Ideas are just as valuable as people. Why do you think we keep making people?

87. Numbers don’t have to go in order.

24. Words will always be just words. Love is just another four letter word, only the feeling is real.

25. Ask a child for advice. They may not know much, but they know what is important.

26. Prove you’re alive. Do anything from dancing in the supermarket to screaming ‘Fuck’ during a moment of silence. Remind the world you are still here.

27. Don’t take anything, even this, too seriously."

10.5.11

Toronto (soon to be Ghana) Updates: Episode 1

Hello fam, so the long-awaited countdown to departure for Ghana is almost down to the ng! (that's nitty-gritty, for all you abbreviation-illiterate types.) I'm currently in Toronto for four days of pre-departure training at the jhr head office before shipping out (flying, actually,) on Thursday.

Expect updates to be sparse for the next few weeks as I acclimatize myself to Ghana, the weather, my new job, the laundry-list of assignments that CIDA has bestowed upon me, and intermittent electricity. However, once I've settled in, expect frequent updates as apparently there is little else to do past 9pm other than read by headlamp or write things on your laptop. So yes, this summer will be THE summer that Chris Tse's blog makes a comeback of Chicago Blackhawks proportions (that is, return from the dead in a dramatic, convincing fashion that delights fans and shocks haters, only to tragically fall short of the collective goal in a hard-fought but ultimately futile battle against a tougher, more talented opponent. In the Blackhawks case, the Canucks. In my case, my knack forgoing old projects for new, sexier ones. Believe me, the blog won't be so enticing for me to write when it's the middle of June in Ghana, it's a balmy 35 degree evening and the last thing I want to do is transcribe my adventures onto paper [or screen, if you will.])

So, to recap:
- the next few weeks will hopefully receive an update every few days;
- the following few weeks will most likely receive a flurry of multiple daily updates;
- the following few weeks will most likely see a decline in activity to the point of nothingness;
- things will pick back up near the end of the internship when I realize I'm coming home and will be, in my excitement, inspired to update you all on the level of my excitement.

Anyways, here is where I'm staying at the moment.

http://theplanettraveler.com/

It's quite lovely.

I'm going out for cheap pitchers at the pub down the street. Yeah, that one. That ONE pub on College Street in DOWNTOWN TORONTO. See you there, maybe?

4.5.11

Watch this.

Even if you are not a basketball fan, watch this. His speech starts at 2:30. I guarantee, it will be worth your while.

2.5.11

Current Musical Gold: Installment 20 (WITH YOUTUBE LINKS YO!)

So I've decided to stop teasing you kids with my recommendations of dope muzak and actually link you to it so you can experience the excellence of my musical taste for yourselves. Except in the case where the tunes I'm down with are too indie for youtube, cause I'm so hipster like that. HA. You're welcome.

-----

"I like music. It defines life, love, and everything in between. I also happen to have an abnormally ridiculous amount of music in my possession, most of which I listen to very very rarely because I have a tendency to overplay. As in, overkill. As in, when I'm feeling a song I will play that tuneage over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again until I am either sick of it, or it is inducted into my special itunes playlist simply titled LEGENDARY. Many songs have come and gone; only the chosen few have made it to LEGENDARY status. Every so often, because I like to share music that is good, I will post the tracks that I am feeling at the moment - the ones that are on trial to make it to LEGENDARY. Hopefully in this manner, you, my readers, will be able to expose yourself to a broader variety of good music. And who knows - maybe it'll even make your LEGENDARY."

---

Current Musical Gold: Installment 20 (in no particular order)
1. Brand New Spaces - Michael Bernard Fitzgerald
2. Fly Away - D-Pryde ft. Erika David
3. When People Go - Craig Cardiff
4. Mama Hold My Hand - Aloe Blacc (as recommended by Mr. Petey Ko)
5. Indiana - The Strumbellas
6. Hey Little Sister - The Postelles
7. Future of Music - Kixxie Siete ft. Robby
8. A Calming Wind - Whitebrow
9. Weighty Ghost - Wintersleep
10. Brutal Hearts - Bedouin Soundclash ft. Coeur de Pirate
11. We Don't Eat - James Vincent McMorrow

Be gold, be blessed, be musical. Peace y'all.

1.5.11

Things learned on May 1, 2011

The world will stop to watch two things:

1. weddings.
2. death.