Sunday, July 27, 2014

Rainy Season Blues

The rainy season takes its toll on me. In the rainy season all is harder than usual. The internet connection, sporadic at the best of times, becomes virtually nonexistent. Everything made by human hands grinds to a halt, falls apart and disintegrates. The termites on the other hand are alive and chomping their way energetically through whatever lies in their way: textiles, pictures, furniture and even the very mud of the buildings.  Suddenly they make their unwelcome 
appearance  on the walls in little mounds made by whatever their digestive systems have just regurgitated. Everything is muddy. Well, of course everything is always potentially muddy in a mud hotel situated  in a mud city, but this is when this potential is abundantly realized. Everything drips. Everything slips and slides. There are leaks in the newly painted rooms even before any of our scarce guests have even had even had time to sleep in them. The rainy season in combination with Ramadan is even worse and most of the staff are asleep somewhere and I have to go looking for them in order to get anything done and to continue working in my studio. Here is Papa the chef ( helping out in the studio for the last couple of years now, since there is not much to do in the kitchen) with Dembele stretching  out some fabric in the sun which does come out and shines very brightly in between the downpours.

Bad Brush Rose

The last few days I have been trying to galvanize myself into some action on the fabric front. MaliMali needs new fabric designs and new garments too.  But even that is harder than usual too in the rainy season, because I feel so worn out by the perennial difficulty of just living during this season. And as usual there is no decent material to work with. As usual the termites have been at the pattern paper or I find that all the brushes have disappeared, and when I raise hell and ask where they have gone no one has any idea. Maman says he will have a look around. He comes back and says he has found one brush. Well it is a brush, granted, but it seems to have been used by Ace’s workmen during the recent hotel room painting. In the absence of anything else, and too tired to make a fuss, I decided that I might as well have a go. This fabric will be called the Bad Brush Rose. I am quite pleased with it actually....

Bad Brush Blues

And in the spirit of the Swedish Eighteen century chef Kaisa Warg  who said Man Tager Hvad man Haver ‘One Makes Do with Whatever is at Hand’,  I decided to continue and be inspired by this Rainy Season Blues instead of complaining about it.  The next fabric is a called Rain Branches and it is made by mud dripping, in the absence of any decent brushes or tools.  It is therefore a perfect expression of my existence here right now.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In memory of the Foresters

Last week I went with Keita and his colleague Barry deep into the bush to begin a new Trachoma operations campaign. This time we  (   -projects) was sponsored by my father’s old college companions. My father Sten died before I was born, but his college pals have continued as a close unit of friends throughout their lives, and my mother and I have always been part of their community. Finally, when my mother married again she chose Gillis, another one of these old foresters. They are now all approaching their nineties, and sadly many of them are departing. This spring three of the old men died in the space of a month. Those that remain decided to honour the memory of their three friends by donating money to MaliMali’s eye operations which we have been carrying out sporadically over the last seven years. The message above reads ’ Thank you, the Foresters!’

Keita, Barry and I  travelled across a smiling early rainy season country side where the millet and the corn had started to grow and where the villagers were busy weeding the furrows. 
Once we arrived at the village of Noguna, some fifteen k from Djenné the examinations started on the villagers who had been waiting for our arrival.
The village chief’s house became a make shift hospital where Barry carried out the operations with the assistance of Keita.