Friday, October 16, 2015

Martial Methods

 Is a good place in Bamako as in so many cities around the world- Keita and I have happy memories from Dakar last January for instance. In Bamako the Institute has a concert venue and a  good restaurant and is the centre of many interesting cultural activities. I am a fan of 
L’Institut, although just now we have had a little malentendu:

I have what seems like mountains to climb before my departure, and thankfully I am feeling strong enough for at least a couple of hours in the morning to try and achieve what is necessary. My tasks have to do with the library or sometimes also the hotel which will remain open in my absence. My very dear –and kind- cousin Pelle once gave me a book called ‘The Art of Being Kind”. I have tried to study this book and to learn from it, but to no avail. I am chronically unable to be kind and patient. The book argues from a utilitarian point of view: one gets better results by being kind. I am afraid experience has told me that in certain cases this is just not true. Just take my quarrel with L’Institut Français in the last few days as a pertinent example: The Institut Français was co-sponsors of the recent conference in Djenné which was held in the Djenné Museum. (picture last blog post) . The speakers at the conference stayed at Hotel Djenné Djenno and were supposed to pay their bill as they left the hotel with money that they had been given by the Institut. One of the speakers stayed for two days and when he left he did not pay his bill saying that he had not had any money yet and that the Institut would pay the hotel directly. Meanwhile I had left for Bamako and left all business in the hands of Samake and Baba- emails winged their way backwards and forwards and a promise was obtained from the Institut that they would be paying the bill the next day through telephone money transfer to Baba at the hotel, if the bill was scanned and sent- this was duly done. Something was now wrong with the bill- no problem, they  sent another with the correct wording, but no money was forthcoming.  
This was a few days ago: last night Baba had still not had any money. I now sent an email asking them politely to send immediately the money as per the agreement. I received a long and complicated response back about how it was after all not possible for them to pay the bill since the conference speaker had already been give some of his money etc etc. And he would have to pay the bill himself. Now, I am leaving for London on Monday. Baba is in need of money at the hotel. I cannot be kind and patient and wait for something to happen here. Therefore I wrote an irate email informing the accountancy staff at the Institut that I was thoroughly fed up with this situation and that I was arriving the following morning to collect the money in person.
When I arrived this morning I was in a combative mood but started out nevertheless with a smile on my face as I explained to the lady in charge of the Institut that I had come for my money. This lady told me that she had found my attitude in last night’s email ‘très desagréable’. ’Madame’, I countered, ‘it is très simple’: If people pay their bills I am charm personified.  However, if   people don’t pay their  bills I do indeed become  very disagreeable.’
She took me to the accountancy department where I explained the situation to the employee in charge of the case. This lady started giving me a long winded explanation about the impossibility of giving me the money.  I replied that I was not interested in hearing what she was saying but that I was simply interested in picking my money up in cash there and then. I added that I had no intention of  moving from my chair until the money arrived, and that I had no other tasks for  the day. If they had any objections to my plan they could call in the Gendarmes to have me removed.
Now, this actually worked. Within 3 minutes an older French lady  (who I assumed to be the big accountancy boss) arrived and asked me simply the amount I needed. Then she returned immediately with an envelope with the cash for which I was asked to sign.  It was as simple as that! So Pelle, sorry, if I had been kind and patient I would not have been able to send the money to Baba this morning- he would not be able to start the all important repair work necessary  at the hotel: sometimes only martial  tactics work!
Well, as the above indicates, I am perhaps already well on my way to becoming a monster as feared in my previous entry. But I have no regrets about my behaviour at all!

And what else?

The tests from Germany have finally come back and this morning I had a consultation with the Professor at the private clinic here where they looked after me for a few days in September. He thinks I should definitely go back to Europe and try to regain my hea1th: it seems that I have something called Chron’s disease.

Meanwhile Keita has just had his last treatment this time around (more to follow in a couple of weeks) and he is going from strength to strength. This makes it easier for me to leave of course for a two month period.


Blogger Laurent said...

Chron disease is a very serious matter and can lead to terrible complications. I urge you to seek treatment in Europe and get it attended to without delay. Best wishes to you.

3:36 AM  
Blogger David said...

Yes, that's not good news. Did the doctor give advice about what to do here? Do you want me to prepare the ground in Hammersmith and Fulham or Kensington and Chelsea?

In the meantime of course we all wonder at your esprit, and yes, you were absolutely right. What a core of steel you have to see something like that through, rotten as you feel. It's very encouraging...and, again, so pleased that you can leave Keita for a bit with a good conscience. Anyway, you've thrice extended his life and what he's been able to do, so I hope his family appreciates it.

4:04 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Dear Laurent and David,
thank you for your concern and kind support!
the diagnosis is not 100% certain- and when I get to London I expect I will have to go through all the tests once more: and my guess is that they will first of all send me to the Hospita1 of Tropical Diseases for an investigation there- that tends to be what happens when one arrives from Africa with something...
The plan is to go first of all to my normal Doctor in the Portobello Health centre where I am registered. He will then refer me to the appropriate places. So David don't worry about any preparing of the ground! Looking forward to seeing you Tuesday.

5:04 PM  
Blogger David said...

OK. I spent months after coming back from Pakistan sweating and laid up every three days and thinking I had malaria. The doctor wasn't bothered, and it was only after five weeks of suffering that I went straight up to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases that giardia was diagnosed, a prescription made and I quickly got back to normal.

1:08 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Interestingly, apart from being treated several times for malaria and once for typhoid since I fell ill in August I have a1so once been treated for guardia! But it has not helped..

3:22 PM  
Blogger Gilliane said...

Glad that your willpower is undiminished when dealing with bureaucrats :) I wish you a safe journey and quick recovery :)

5:08 AM  
Blogger Pascal et Monique said...

Bon retour à Londres et bon courage pour les differents examens médicaux. On espère que le diagnostique sera encourageant et on te souhaite un prompt rétablissement.

8:03 AM  
Blogger naniepat said...

Bonjour Sophie,

Désolée de lire ces mauvaises nouvelles de ta santé. Nous espérons qu'à ce jour ton état s'améliore. Nous passerons à Djenné en novembre et regrettons déjà de ne pas avoir l'occasion de t'y rencontrer. Nous espérons que tu seras néanmoins bientôt sur pieds pour rentrer chez toi au Mali et te souhaitons un prompt rétablissement.
Félicitation pour ta détermination face à ces instances qui se croient toutes puissantes. Je crois aussi que la témérité est toujours payante quand on est dans son bon droit. (j'ai moi-même fait un "sitting" au siège de la BNP PARIBAS Fortis à Bruxelles en janvier dernier. L'argent que nous avions envoyé pour notre voyage en novembre 2014 était toujours dans la nature et malgré mes mails et appels journaliers je n'arrivais pas à avoir une réponse.
Le lendemain l'argent était de retour sur le compte de notre association!!!)
Nous te donnerons des nouvelles de Djenné-Djenno et prendrons quand-même un verre sur la terrasse à ta santé (sans jeu de mots). Nous t'embrassons. Michel et Annie

9:44 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Chers Michel et Annie,
Contente de votre succès avec la BNP! Je suis desolé qu'on ne va pas ce recontrer en Novembre.. Mais l'Hotel est ouvert et Baba et le personnel vont vont bien s'occuper de vous si vous decidez de rester chez nous.
Je vous souhaite bon voyage et vous embrasse,

7:02 PM  

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