Ordinary Things and Little Things.

Although I have wireless internet (which is too slow and expensive to satisfy my old streaming habits) in my home here in Zomba, Malawi, I do not yet have television via satellite (which is available and reasonably priced). I am interested in following the news here in English so that will be my next “creature comfort” for my temporary Malawi home.

In the absence of being able to fall victim to “moving image hypnosis,” my mind has slowed down and I am observing a lot of the “ordinary” and “little things” in my environment. For example, the subject of “trash” is quite ordinary, and as an American, I either put things in the recycle bin or trash can and every week those items disappear and I never see them again. Trash has a very different trajectory here in Malawi. It doesn’t readily go away. It hangs around to remind me of what I have been using and the impact that use has on the environment.


This is a picture taken of my back yard. To the left is a small building that my gardener, Robert, stays in. To the right are two fires. The one on the left is burning yard waste. The one on the right is burning all of the trash that cannot be composted. The remaining debris after the burning (cans, glass, plastics, etc.) are buried right there in a pit.

P1000422.jpgOh. And yes. That is a garden of potatoes just starting to come up. Included in the vicinity are tomatoes, onions, carrots, kale, chives, lettuce, and cucumbers. It has been strongly advised by my colleagues that I have Robert start a garden since the market vegetables can be laden with various microorganisms that will make me ill. The most problematic are salad vegetables since it is difficult to assure adequate washing. Things that are boiled are fine.

In regard to appreciating more of the “ordinary,” I have grown accustomed to having a security guard here 24/7. This is Jucia, who is the day guard. The security company, G4S, is contracted by the university:


Hopekins, who is a high school student in a nearby village, has become a regular visitor to my home. I got to know him several weeks ago when he was selling carved wooden statues in my neighborhood. I offered to give him a ride home to his village from town during a heavy rain and we became friends. He wants to be an engineer.

This is Hopekins (advertising for FSU):


This is his statue of a woman from the Ngoni tribe.


On the one hand are the “ordinary things” and on the other hand are the “little things” I have come to appreciate. Most people, Americans included, are accustomed to sharing their homes with the occasional insect or two. But here in Malawi, the hospitality is more broad. The geckos grace my walls with their cuteness every day, and I do not mind at all.

Here is a mommy (or daddy) gecko on my bedroom wall (about seven inches long):


And this, I presume, is the offspring. This little creature is about two inches long:


Now, you must forgive me for this last “little thing” indulgence. I know that cockroaches are perhaps one of the most least appreciated living creatures on this planet; however, I just had to marvel at the difference that perspective makes. Last night I sprayed some insecticide in my living room for a resistant and annoying army of harmless ants. I guess it is easier to kill them because they are so small and I can’t see the details (like I can with my trash now). The devil is in the details. . . So, I woke up this morning to a suffering cockroach on the floor, on its back, seemingly writhing in pain from the insecticide (named “Doom,” by the way). I picked it up, photographed it, and then put it outside to die in the garden. I know it is just a “cockroach,” but I can’t help appreciating the details and intricacies of its big “littleness.”


Things, ordinary and little. 

One thought on “Ordinary Things and Little Things.

  1. I hope you are feeling better. What a time you have had with your bout of whatever it was. I’m glad you are growing a crop of vegetables in your yard. Yes, the cockroach is kind of cute, but not in Framingham! Love your blog. Get well!


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