Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Has anything changed?

I questioned in my last blog whether my old home will seem familiar any more… the truth is, I wonder if anything has changed? OK, so Woolworths isn’t there any more, a garden centre has become Lidl, friends are pregnant and my parents have decorated their bedroom, but otherwise…?!
When I first arrived I was too exhausted to really take anything in having not slept well, if at all, for the previous few days and during travel. Arrival at the aiport was almost just as I imagined, with my parents, brother and sister-in-law ready and waiting with open arms (and a warm coat!) I landed straight into the busyness of an Easter weekend, but sadly I think I was too tired to really appreciate that special time of year, though I’d been looking forward to it for so long. Now that I’ve rested and my energy levels are somewhat restored I am starting to take in my environment more and catch up with people.
Truth be told, the environment is the same, though I am much more aware of how neat and tidy England is, how ordered life is, how people keep to the rules of the road (so that driving proved to be a joy rather than a stress when I took my first trip out on my own) and how there are lots and lots of cars! There’s just tiny changes like more recycling, more people out on bikes and new property developments.
The familiarity of everything, the ease with which one can slip back into life here, makes the reality of being here like some strange time-warp. I know that my stay here is only temporary and I refer to Tanzania as ‘home’, and yet at the same time it’s as if the last two years never happened. Even relationships have been picked up remarkably easily (helped, I am sure, by how faithfully people have kept in touch in my absence). However, at the same time as living here, and going through the motions of normal life in England (even playing the piano at church again on Sunday, which was a real privelage) I feel strangely disconnected… I’m half here and half in Tanzania, living in two time-zones as I keep in touch with close friends that I miss there while interacting with friends and family here that I have missed for two years!
On the positive side, some of the things I am really enjoying (besides the obvious pleasure of being with my family and friends) are eating nice cheeses, yummy meals out, walking in the surrounding countryside, long twilights, a fast internet connection and breakfast cereal!

Out for a walk with family and friends on my birthday

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

What will it be like?

I’ve been musing over what it will be like to return to England. I can’t quite take in that in a week’s time I’ll be on my way. I picture scenes of greeting my family, who I have not seen for two years, with big hugs, and returning to familiar places and ways of life. But will it seem familiar any more? How will it be…
…to drive a little car on busy roads after driving a Land Rover on dirt tracks?
…to walk into a shop and have to choose which brand of margarine to buy, after only having one choice?
…to walk into a supermarket, after using shops that more closely resemble a village corner store? …to pay with plastic rather than cash?
…to walk down a street without being called out to, blending into the crowd?
…to drink water straight from the tap rather than from a filter?
…to be able to put a frozen pizza in the oven instead of making it all myself?
…to be ignored by people walking by rather than receiving friendly greetings as I go?
…to be reunited with people who were close, knowing that I have changed and that they too will have moved on?
The truth is, England doesn’t feel like home anymore. It seems like another world I once read about, my only connection with it now being through emails, letters and the BBC website! How will it feel to walk on English soil once again? Will it then seem like Tanzania is just a dream?
I think one of the hardest things about living here is that nowhere will ever feel completely like home again. I love Tanzania, but it’s not my culture, I can’t feel completely at one with the place. And yet I’ve absorbed something of this place into my being, and so England will never quite be my home again either. Where does that leave me?!