I’ve finally started working at the Centre de Presse Malagasy. I’m feeling so much alive again, useful after a long wait!
I will be in charge of development and animation: an exciting mission! The Centre organises workshops, press conferences and training and I’m so glad to be part of it.
I’m sharing the same values than the Centre’s manager: skills, being and heading to excellence. I’m humble in my mission and I know I will learn a lot from this experience.
Beauty is everywhere for who knows how to see as this magical moment can tell. One morning, our bus was rumbling as usual on the cobblestoned road. The crowd was eating the thin tin of the vehicle. From far, anarchy was ruling the scene. Absurdity was its sister as street market sellers were offering their clothes, bags or other items. It sounded as if even colours decided to be part of the chaos on this morning.
But you had not to miss these few intense seconds: a line of women carrying big baskets full of mandarins on their heads suddenly moved like this hypnotic movement of grass in the wind, this incredible moment where flora perfectly mimics water. I’ve shared this beautiful moment with François, a simple and beautiful moment. On this packed morning bus.
I’ve not mentioned this topic yet. Though, it is grabbing you when you’re going out of the airport.
Madagascar is one of the poorest countries of the world.
Rugs, poor health of some people (a man walked with his foot backwards) and in utter destitution of others confirm this fact.
It is hard to see it but I always kept a distance with it. I’m not stronger than others but I don’t think money is the best answer. I’ve never lived in opulence or been a frantic consumer. But I’ve changed my habits to try to embrace sobriety when I lived in Australia. I’ve always been upset by waste and what I’ve seen in Australia was really shameful. Don’t even try thinking of put these two next to each other! But it is in the abundant country with lots of resources and cheap way of life that I’ve opted for a simpler way of life. It doesn’t mean that I couldn’t enjoy some times: sobriety is not rigors in my opinion. But it is the simple and obvious respect of what is around: nature puts efforts in growing our food, providing our energy, everything on which we depend, us Humans.
Last time, in 2006, misery was already there, everywhere. Children were asking you as you are a foreigner so by consequence, rich. However, children were not bothering me much as my wardrobe was not really appealing (I prepared it). Today, I’m walking next to François, a vahaza (pronounce ‘vaza’) so beggars insist more. On the other hand, I’ve been told that I’m looking like a karana (pronounce ‘karan’) so people keeps a distance. Karana is an Indian based community in Madagascar and some of them are quite powerful and rich. They are feared by the population.
Don’t judge a book on its cover
It is funny how people could be intrigued by my country of origin... When I was living in Nantes, France, on my 10’s, school mates were doing belly dancing when I was coming as they thought I was from North Africa. In Paris, people thought for sure that I was from the Maghreb area. When I had my very first job in an employment agency in Villejuif (suburbs of Paris), people were talking to me in Arabic. I’ve also been insulted as after September 11, everything changed.
However, some people found more exotic origins for me like India, Brazil, Polynesia, Italy or Spain.
Getting my marks
I’m starting to get my marks after two weeks. Now, I know where to get the bus, which one to get and getting in as it is moving. We are now installed in our little flat.
When can you talk about habits? Do you have to wait days, weeks, years?
I’m starting to get used to our feathery friend, knocking at the window every morning around 6.30am.
However, if there is one thing I cannot get used to, it is the city density. Dense city.
For now, I still need a lot of energy to face the bright sun (right into my weak eyes), watch where I put my foot, the traffic, my pockets, to miss this great or funny moment because I was watching where I was putting my foot and other things.
I’ve been told ‘you live more [intensely] in Madagascar’. I agree, everything is more intense: vegetables’ taste, pollution and people’s will.
I’m coming back to buses. I must say that this is a great inspiration for me and I spent almost 3 hours of my day in these buses, also called ‘taxi be’. About air pollution, I’ve witnessed an incredible situation: inside a ‘taxi be’, where we had less space than sardines in their canned tin, a blue smoke was filling the air. I’ve seen it in a sun beam and for sure, it was nothing like wood fire or night club fake smoke.
Getting into a ‘taxi be’ is also sharing intimate moments with other passengers. I was ‘sitting’ next to a mother breastfeeding and the little feet of her baby were tapping of pleasure on my tight.
I’m a bit resigned about air pollution as it is even coming into buildings (office and home)... The only thing I’m trying to do is using an isotonic spray for limiting effects.
I’ve noticed two types of ‘taxi be’: ‘big’ ones which are probably doing woop woop surburbs and rural areas and ‘small’ ones which are urban. I’m lucky to get the big one for most of my trip. But I still have to sit on a bottom cheek for almost an hour. For the small one, that’s another story.
These buses are mini-mini-buses: there are tiny and quite low. When I’m getting in (as it is still moving), I feel like clothes that you put on a washing machine, except I’ve got bones...
Reading and media
I’ve finished ‘Chroniques de Madagascar’ and ‘Imerina’. ‘Chroniques’ were nice and various and I really enjoyed Lila Hanitra Ratsifandriahamanana’s ‘Le kéré’. It was so beautifully written! ‘Imerina’ was about Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, a great Malagasy writer.
We have not found yet a radio so we are listening to news flashes on François’s mobile phone. We are trying to understand Malagasy news but too tough for now as we know only few words for now. We are listening to Radio France International (RFI) and BBC Africa.
It took us a bit of time to get internet as everything is taking time in here, especially from the moment I’ve started working.
ROI (Return of Intention)
I feel like it was a smart move to start writing again. I’m writing because I love sharing: a point of view, an experience…and I feel like my target is reached when I’m receiving private messages encouraging me about writing these blog posts and the experience of living in Madagascar. So a huge thank you for all your public and private messages!
I feel like you are next to me when I’m walking on this Itaosy’s packed street or face to this Malagasy meal which I cannot remember and even less pronounce the name of, and even, at night, when I’m falling asleep under this mosquito net looking like a canopy.