One of the loveliest things about life is
that is starts again every morning. Can you imagine what it would be like if it
didn’t have the break of a night in between all that happens? If everything
just carried on and we didn’t need to sleep? Suicide rates would sky rocket.
The best thing about the night/day
arrangement is that it gives one the opportunity to reinvent oneself every day.
There is always a hope that things may improve and that one might be more
organized, smarter, more successful, kinder tomorrow...
Yesterday was a Bad Day. As usual I got up
with the best of intentions, glad that it was a new day in which to have
another go at being kind to my employees and those in the library team. But this
plan invariably breaks down. It is harder just now since it has been full moon which
affects me badly, and I am also rather stressed out because I am leaving in
less than a week and have a lot to get done. The Library project is in its
final days. I went in to check the progress and found that one detail on the
excel document describing the manuscripts- the physical measurements- had been totally ignored by the team. They
have less than a week to fill in the whole lot! Two years of measurements! ‘Oh, but it is not very important, is it?’
ventured Mohammed. ‘You bet it is.’ I snapped with some emphasis.
‘ If you don’t do it, I will have to spend
the whole of September at the British Library filling it in, and I have other
I went back to the hotel and the studio to
check on the progress of the MaliMali team and found to my utter horror that
Alpha, my new tailor, had drawn in RED BIRO on the front of a white dress decorated
with black bogolan lines- a fabric that I only can make and which I had spent
at least a day working on, including visit to the river to wash it. It is an
order for Bamako, and I have no time or wish to redo the fabric. And Alpha decides to draw on it in red biro!
He made a mistake, he said. I HOWLED at him to get outta there and that I couldn’t even abide the sight
of him. Then I decided I could not even bear staying in the studio so I wandered back to the hotel, where my fortunes
changed again- living in Mali is, in the well-turned phrase of my Dutch friend
Birgit ‘the square root of emotional roller coasters’.
I sat down in the bar to calm down and nurse
an ice cold beer when the hotel guests turned up. Yes! We had hotel guests
yesterday, three jolly Frenchmen who had nothing to do with the elections or
the crisis. They were here making a documentary about the French explorer Rene
Caille, probably the first white person to arrive in Djenne in the first part
of the 19th century, about
30 years after Mungo Park’s famous voyage
which brought him close, but not quite to Djenne.
One of this threesome was an actor,
playing the part of Rene Caille! The explorer had travelled in disguise and
pretended to be an Arab. When I found this out I pleaded with him to get
dressed up so that I could be pictured with Renee Caille! And here we are... M. Caille I presume?
But after this uplifting interlude I
ventured back to the studio, where I found poor Alpha lying on a mat in the
corner, quietly crying... How dreadful am I to cause this gentle man such pain!
He might not be a very good tailor, but he doesn’t deserve to be treated with
such contempt as I just did. So, unnoticed, I quietly took the red stained garment and
went to try and remove the stain. This turned out to be fairly simple, so I
went back and told Alpha that all was not lost. It would all be OK, and
tomorrow I would show him how to mark the garments without using biro. And Alhamdilullah, the
next day he did come back and all is now well once more! Isn’t it great that
night follows day, and that day comes back again all new and shiny and full of possibilities.
Take tomorrow for instance: the EU Election
Observers arrive to Hotel Djenne Djenno- one from Italy and one from Sweden. Election is almost here and this time it is really quite exciting and full of possibilities. I have given my guesswork below, but there could be enormous surprises!