Potpourri (Tuesday, 2010 August 31)

August 31, 2010

Some random things that you might be interested in:

  • Ripe plantains can be eaten raw. They taste much like bananas.

  • I was in a government building at Bafoussam and wandered into the "computer room". Three or four people were sitting at computers, all of which ran Ubuntu and OpenOffice. That was really nice. I can justify teaching OO.o now, maybe even put Ubuntu on the machines when they get fucked up.

  • Ryan was at the market in Bafoussam and started chatting with one of the market mommies. He attempted to learn a bit about the local language — hello, goodbye, that sort of thing. Then the market mommy says to him: "OK, now your turn. How do you say ‘Bonjour’ in your dialect?"

    Ryan, lost for words says, "Uh, ‘hello’?"

    The mommy replies, "No, that’s English! How do you say it in your dialect?"

    (I think I would have said something like "Sups!" but naturally dialects, as they exist here, don’t exist back home..)

  • Went to Baham to buy some bamboo chairs and stuff. Less expensive than the armchairs — these little stools (tabouret) were 500 CFA each, and the bookcase (armoire) was 15,000, less than half the cost of one chair. The dude who sells the bamboo stuff was a grizzled, bitter old little dude, and I took a liking to him immediately. He didn’t haggle at all: he started the sale at the above prices, and refused to even budge 1,000 CFA. Every time Boris tried, the dude would just say, "No, I said 15,000! .. You’re short 1,000 CFA!" He told us in great deal how much effort he’d put into the bookcase, how it took him 2 months, and the amount of craftsmanship that went into it, including gluing parts together and all kinds of things. Boris was taking a tack that tended to work on other vendors, which was brusque and borderline impolite; I tried awestruck respect and humoring his bitter grizzliness. I end up doing this good-cop-bad-cop thing whenever I go shopping with a Cameroonian.

    The old dude didn’t seem the slightest bit surprised or interested in the fact that I was white; he didn’t charge an outrageous amount; I walked away with a pretty cool piece of furniture. Pretty satisfying.

  • Tried boiling small potatoes in their skins for a "new potatoes" kind of effect. Turned out terribly; most of them were bitter somehow and even burned my throat. I spent a certain amount of time not feeling wonderful but not being actually sick. The hope was that I wouldn’t have to peel the little fuckers, but it seems to have backfired. Would not recommend you do this yourself.

    Today I boiled four or five bigger ones after peeling them, and that worked fine. So it’s either the fact that I left them in their skins, or the fact that they were petit. I foresee a lot of potatoes in my future.

  • Figured out why there were so many ants in my house! They had found the candy in my suitcase. Guess that means I need to be eating this stuff faster.

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