Friday, February 25, 2011

Long Live FB

Thank you my little friends: Aida, Ivani and Soleine

Years ago I went to Senegal on a hot date (...). I was living in Trinidad, happened to be on work visit in Jamaica and flew from there to New York on my way to Dakar. The American boarder authorities and drug inspectors were very suspicious about my voyage and I remember being interrogated by an arrogant, a-hole customs officer for half an hour. But that's besides the point. 

The point is that when I arrived in Senegal, it was my birthday. I already had a Yahoo account at the time, I am talking 10 years ago, and I received no less than 2 messages: one from my mom, one from Yahoo automatic birthday message service.

How things have changed! It is again my birthday today, and Facebook messages are flooding in from all over the world, by time zone, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Belgium, Holland, UK, Morocco, New York City, Belize, Texas - thirty already! Now that feels like having your birthday. Cheers to Mark Zuckerman (or whatever his name is). And to all my friends of course, have a good one!

Soleine and her friends preparing mama's b-day cake
Are you four, are your five, are you six...keep counting girls!

Saturday, February 5, 2011


Hmmm, the whole week I've been thinking what to blog about. Maybe about a new World Bank report I  received in my inbox, putting figures to the political/economical crisis in Madagascar. It describes an 18% cut down in public expenditure in the past six months, major cuts in the national budgets for infrastructure, education and social affairs, in favor of the 'presidential' office, spectacular decreases of foreign investments by 29%, a 77% decrease in foreign aid, and a 35% decrease in foreign loans, off set by an equally spectacular new source of non-tax revenue of 100 million USD from a Chinese mining project. Comes with less strings attached surely, so why not let the Chinese dig away. No further comment...

Then again, I don't really want to blog about politics, crises or mining. I prefer to keep it light. So let me tell what happened to me a week ago. I had to buy shoes for my daughter. And while I believe what everybody says, - that you can buy everything in Madagascar; it's just a matter of searching hard,-  I just did  not feel like strolling on the markets and through the Chinese shops to be paying twice the price local people pay for a pair of pink plastic kicks that probably last only 3 months.

So I go into a real shoe boutique where they sell high quality leather shoes from Italy, as well as Geox. I quickly find a pair of cute trainers for Soleine, priced 240,000 Ar (87 euro, 118 USD). A bit on the expensive side, definitely Vahaza prices, but it's what we'd pay in Europe as well. I look around and around to see if there was anything cheaper. I hesitate some more, then persuade myself into buying them with my credit card. I pull out my card, walk over to the cashier, hand her the piece of plastic, she takes it, but... I am not letting go off it. I seem to be physically unable to hand her my card. A few seconds of pulling between me and the sales lady follow, after which I rush out of the shop with the card!

How embarrassing, she must have though I was one, big, fat, crazy, stupid Vazaha...but I was simply not able to pay the equivalent of a monthly salary (a good monthly salary) for a pair of purple girls' trainers.

P.s. later I found Jina, a French shoe shop where I bought four pairs for Soleine for the same price!