It was a bit of a weird start to the week, with various messages coming through warning us to keep away from Khartoum University as protests were kicking off. We did as we were told and kept away, only learning later that a student had been shot dead, and how near some of our friends had been to the place at the time. One SVP-er was actually teaching a lesson there at the time. Scary stuff indeed. If you're interested in what went down and why, you can read about it here.
On our walk back from work that day, there seemed to be a huge hold-up in traffic, and several huge trucks full of people with flags and loudspeakers went by, followed by even more trucks full of police. Since I only speak about 10 words of Arabic, I had no idea what they were saying, but wondered if it was connected to the protests. Luckily, a Sudanese man who spoke a lot of German stopped us for a chat and told us it was to do with a football match. At 9.30am....? Hmmm. Mysteries. Many mysteries.
Things seemed to calm down and go back to normal pretty quickly after that, which for me meant I taught many a lesson to many a student. One girl had excellent henna for a few days:
I shall take this opportunity to introduce you to a new volunteer/character. He shall henceforth be known as... The Hat. You'll notice him in one of the photos below, perched upon the head of some guy. Watch out for him. I think he could be my nemesis.
Strangely, he then insisted that my country is "really racist actually". I refrained from asking why he wanted to live there if that was in fact the case, and tried instead to explain that of course some British people are racist and clearly others are not, and that perhaps it's better not to generalise massively (and also I don't know, greatly insult your teacher who is voluntarily giving up her time to help you, or whatever). Ignoring this, and the nods of agreement from several students around him (I should point out that the the majority of them are nice and polite), he proceeded to tell me that "THE MEDIA SAYS
that all westerners hate the Arab world, and then demanded to know "how many mosques are in YOUR country?" Not the best moment ever. That said, that this was the most rude/weird anyone has been to me since I arrived here many moons (two and a half months) ago, goes some way to show how lovely so many other Sudanese people have been. MIXED FEELINGS. FRUSTRATION. ARGH.
After venting all the above to The Tedious Englishman, who has the misfortune of living with me, we took ourselves off to the hilariously. and aptly, named Souk Shabi for a bit of adventure. As with seemingly all markets in this place, you can buy basically anything there. American flag screwdriver? Check. Tower of dusty broken microwaves full of other broken stuff? Check. Fluorescent fluffy 70s style waste-paper bins? Check. Needless to say, we bought all of the examples I've just given and our house is now looking (and feeling - thank you texturally ridiculous waste-paper bins) fabulous. Others might insist that actually we just bought a lot of fruit and vegetables, and just took pictures of everything else. They would have a good point.
I call this collection of photos, "The Tedious Englishman's Blue Shirt Tours Souk Shabi". Some people will insist on being in every picture. Others will insist on taking bad photographs.
Come back next week to find out exactly how much I lost at tomorrow's poker night (hosted by The Hat, obviously) and whether the house-warming party The Tedious Englishman and I are hosting this weekend ends up with the frogs burning the house to the ground and establishing a long and tyrannical rule from the ruins. It could all happen. I'm sure Audrey is in cahoots with them.
All the best. TO YOU AND YOUR KIN. (Christmas songs in a threatening voice. Funny every time.)