I was chatting with people from the Coopération about the behaviour of some expats and it just confirmed what I was guessing.
Some of them party hard and are extremely happy and a bit proud to talk about people cleaning the day after. Who forgot about the mess left after a party? Who can decently let someone else, someone who did not enjoy the party, put their hands into vomit, filth, sticky surfaces with the smell of cold cigarette? We agreed with people from the Coopération about the joy to be able to clean our own filth.
I have the great opportunity to discuss with Malagasy students and I love it so much! I feel like having my finger on the youth pulse.
Most of them would like to move things forward and they feel like the lack of motivation of the youth is a big problem. They spotted weak points: mentality and habits.
I see young people really involved in associations. But I also feel like some associations are just occidental copy/paste of wealthy countries trying to blame (well, protect as well) about pollution for instance. But it sounds a bit like a joke when you understand that some countries are the origin of some problems (climate change) and behaviours (occidental way of life).
We talked about organization models with a student. I was thinking that we should not stay under influence and build our own. Be inspired without being dominated.
Beauty is in details
I saw Beauty in a taxi-be. It was really hot this afternoon. As usual, everybody was packed into this tiny vehicle. This pocket version of a bus is full; some passengers are sitting on places where you usually put only feet. I sat myself at this place.
A young girl, probably a student, sat there, next to street children, probably brother and sister. They were sleepy. It was probably nap time for them. But which nap, which rest when you have so many things to do at this young age?
The two kids drew smiles on passengers’ faces, people facing them. Hot temperature and the traffic jam’s thrumming lulled the slumping kids.
The young girl finally held them back with her arm, avoiding them to fall forward. She stayed in this position until she left the taxi-be, for about 30 minutes. The two kids were dribbling on her arm and she was imperturbable. I felt blown away by the beauty of this gesture, full of pure love, completely selfless, full of kindness, protection, genuine love towards unknown children.
Who is really able of this gesture? Who would honestly not think that this dribble is disgusting on my arm, that these kids are dirty? I’m feeling ashamed, terribly ashamed to confess that I’m not sure that I would have been able to do it.
This terrible shame gnawed at me for several days and questioned me on compassion. What is our limit of compassion? She did not change the world, led a revolution or discovered a cure that would save all mankind. She was just beautiful, without tricks or self-interest. She was deeply human.
We had the chance to watch contemporary dance shows during the international contemporary dance festival in Madagascar, I’Trôtra festival. I really loved local dance companies, especially Master Jah Company. They had a strong message about waste. Their intention was clear and praiseworthy.
For me, intention is more important than technique.
I remember my uncle, brilliant bossa nova guitarist, discussing with me about it. He loved my simple melodies whereas he was a virtuoso and playing complex arpeggios (that I could not play, mostly because of shameful laziness, I must confess).
I love raw emotion. Of course, I enjoy technique but I love ‘true imperfection’.
These shows were a big breath of fresh air in this daily routine of vigilance and pollution. I’m trying to remember the last contemporary dance show I’ve seen, in vain...
I was founding it hermetic, like others, until I met choreographers during reporting. I was lucky to meet Jean-Claude Gallotta in Reunion Island. His late beginning and brilliant dancer career impressed me. And he even told at the end of the interview a great: ’Will you dance?’
My internships in cultural departments in newsrooms gave me access to culture. In Reunion Island, I’ve never been to the biggest theatre (Théâtre de Champ-Fleuri) before covering shows. It was too expensive, too snob as well. I tried to bring everybody who could not afford it with me into the dark room to enjoy beauty and wealth of culture via articles and radio reports. Cultural politics may have changed today and culture may be more affordable. I really hope so...I’m too far from the island and its daily routine now.
In here, from the few I feel, culture sounds possible to access to everybody. I was happy to see that the opening show of the festival was happening downtown, in Analakely, with a South-African crazy awesome dance group (Taxido Arts Production Company). It was a free event.
I was discussing with a local journalist about cultural journalism and its problematics in Madagascar and she told me it was pretty much the same than in Reunion Island.
I still hear karana on my way on the streets. Even my partner noticed that people had a strange look on me. As I’m looking like a karana, it is strange to see me walking on streets as they apparently only move into big cars with smoked windows.
One day at lunch, a Korean man asked me if I was Indian.
It is funny in a way as in Reunion Island, a Reunionnese guy told me I was not looking like Reunionnese. And when I told him I was born in Le Port in Reunion Island, he was even more surprised.
I’m proud I was born over there. This town has a bad reputation (dangerous) but I only have good memories in Le Port. Engines’ purring of the electric plant, hot chocolate coming from a coffee machine (my childhood Graal), my uncle and aunt, my father back from fishing and the old 4L (old French car) that my brother and I loved so much, dried savannah and pebbles.
We spent few years in Nantes, France and lived in the capital city, Saint-Denis when we came back in Reunion Island but I’m from Le Port and I’m proud to say it.
We moved our last things from Itaosy. My partner is definitively following me and now living in the city centre with me. It is a relief as it is complicated to live on two places.
I was happy to see again Itaosy for a day and nature. It is good to go _a bit_ away from pollution, to have nature as horizon (not green as nature is arid in here!). It is good to blow my nose and not having these horrible dark spots. But our missions lead us to be downtown… C’est la vie!
We had not time yet to leave the city but we should have an opportunity, maybe in two weeks. We cannot wait!
Readings (and film)
I’ve finished Milan Kundera’s ‘Life is elsewhere’. I’ve found a comic from my hero, Riad Sattouf. I love him. I ate his ‘L’arabe du futur’ 1 & 2 (The Arab of the future). I would like to call him my idol but we cannot idolize humans as we have too many faults. But, God, what a pencil line! What humour!
I also discovered a great concept of comics and journalistic investigation with the French magazine ‘La revue dessinée’. In the same line, I’ve read ‘XXI’. I’ve heard about it before but never read it. It was good. The last issue had a great article about new adventurers Roland Jourdain and Corentin de Chatelperron (and his stories about hens on a boat).
I saw a great Spanish movie ‘Blancanieves’ during the Spanish Film Festival of Antananarivo (first edition!). It a recent silent movie in black and white (of course, similar to the French ‘The Artist’). This Snow White remake is beautiful, very aesthetic, with a wonderful photography. All women of this movie are stunning. Snow White’s grandmother is so charming…
Living in Tana
Even if I’m still vigilant (safety, health), everyday life is starting to be more relax. I’m feeling more flexible on my knees, like in boxing. I’m starting to have few habits, to know a bit more about procedures (how to give my neighbour the right change if she or he has a big note, all this into a religious silence when the radio is not belching French 70’s hits) and do okay kely kely (a bit) in Malagasy.
We cannot say I’m trapped in a routine yet. One morning, during the trip, our taxi-be stopped on the side of the road as smoke was coming from under the driver’s seat. Everybody quickly went out of the taxi-be!
The few I’m starting to understand and learn from Malagasy language from lessons and from students at the Radio Université Ambohitsaina appears beautiful and poetic. For instance, the brown water served with the meal in some greasy spoons is called ‘silver water’. The language is full of pictures. Felaka is usually an envelope with some money as defrayal for journalists. But I’ve been told it is also meaning to slap. A student told me journalists were ‘slapped’ with money, ‘blinded’.
I’m really lucky to be amongst these people.
This last week was really heavy and fast-paced. It went really quickly. I feel like I had no control on time and no time for myself. No sport, no post on my blog…
I’ve introduced interns to the Centre de Presse Malagasy, recorded interviews and texts for future radio programs ‘Médias Dévoilés’ and did thousands of other things. My four days of work looked like two weeks.
But I still have efforts to do. I am shamefacedly bumping into Malagasy names (they are so long!). I had to do it several times and fortunately, the sound technician is very patient.
I’m physically exhausted but mentally, very happy!
We visited the Volunteering Day stands at the Alliance Française of Antananarivo. It was interesting to see the different initiatives.
We stopped at the ‘Relais’ stand and had the chance to discuss a bit with one of the manager of the Malagasy network. This association is directly linked to Emmaüs, the most famous charity association in France. I’ve found this initiative very sane as it is self-funded and demanding its independence from international investors. It is rehabilitating people by work in factories, five star hotels and other activities. I read about other similar projects in Mexico with chef Gaston and in France with Thierry Marx in ‘La revue dessinée’.
Questions about humanitarian actions and development are right into your face in Madagascar. It is a daily matter when you live in here.
Sunday in Antananarivo
Sunday is my favourite day in Antananarivo. Everything is calm, soothed. I like to walk in empty streets and enjoy serenity. Everybody is at the mess. I really would like the other days to be like this one. But maybe it would lose its flavour?