Handsome husband has been living in a very different Uganda than I. His entire experience has been marked by plenty of interactions with local working people, and he has a sense of what the real Uganda is all about. His skills with the art of chat have helped.
He is a big talker and has a tendency to know all about those people that few ever really talk to. He knows the story of the Rwandan girl who serves coffee in our favorite coffee shop, he chats to the Boda Boda men, the taxi drivers, the bag packers at the grocery store, and the cleaning lady next door. He talks to everyone. He has always been known to step out of a taxi. any where, in any city, and know more about that taxi driver than you or I would ever even want to know. It is somewhat of a family joke. Now, his propensity to chat has found an ideal outlet as he hangs out in the markets and rides Bodas all in the name of business. He is meeting people who live day in and day out in that market where women peel matoke and fold samosas. This is a place where young babies are tied to their mother’s back or sit on a box while she sells vegetables to make a meagre pittance. This hard market life is their reality; seven days a week they will sit on their stoop, in the mud, the rain, the sun. When my Mzungu white husband turns up to stand amidst this scene, I can’t imagine how they perceive him.
I on the other hand, spend my days at school mixing either with the Ugandan elite or a fine selection of expat children. The teachers might be adventurous Aussies or Brits or very educated Ugandan’s. The local teachers eat Matoke for lunch and us expat folk microwave our sun dried tomato pasta. Two worlds, but not the same disparity as a French Canadian in the Market.
My frustrations about living here do not even register with handsome husband. Power cuts? Well, they are a lesson not to take power for granted and an opportunity to step outside our comfort zone. Incompetence in the pizza delivery service? An annoyance but one that can be dealt with, all part of the bigger picture. Only recently when stuck in a traffic jam where his car remained in park for 15 minutes with out moving, did the veneer of patience begin to crack. In fact, I think that much of what irritates me here actually inspires him. I have been begging him to write a guest post with his perspective but he says he is too busy. Maybe he will come around.
His interactions with the Ugandans have coloured his opinion and experience of living here while my narrow world of school and home have coloured mine. Despite living in the same house we are living in two very different places.
I think he has found answers to questions that he may not even know he’s been asking. He is very comfortable here and feels settled. The essence of life here that is raw, base and distilled to the fundamentals of survival, appeals to him. Life expectancy here is 53 years but to him this is not a tragedy, after all we, in the Great Shiny West, live a life far longer than our bodies are intended for. In fact, we prolong life beyond what it should be until we have demented and shuffling people drooling in old age homes. He can see beauty and maybe even charm in the simple yet poverty stricken life, but I only see tragedy. Yes, life here is sad and hard but more than anything it is real.
The different tints we wear over our eyes, also called perspective, are powerful in determining our experience in any occasion. I wish I could borrow his glasses for a day.