When Geoff asked me to write a guest entry in his blog, I thought to myself – “yes! I can do that, I can do that very easily because I am his guest in more ways than one” I have been fortunate not only be privileged to be a welcome entry to his blog but have also had the opportunity to be a recipient of his very kind hospitality as a guest in his home. But it was at that point that I realised that no – it is not easy to write about my experiences as Geoff’s guest at all, because I didn’t feel like a guest – I felt at home, living here at 54 Crystal Towers, Upanga, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – East Africa. It is important that I mention that last bit about ‘East Africa; as this is not where we began our journey to resolve the problems in the world of education. It began in 2009 – over 5 years ago at the University of Reading in the UK, I know, a completely different continent. Working within education has taken us to several countries, from the UK to Jamaica and across East Africa including Tanzania, Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda.
We did have a guest at home though, once, and you might have read about that ‘eventful period’ in an older post here
Life in Dar es salaam, Tanzania, I say, has been a memorable one, while working at the Aga Khan University. It began with me and my family, Salima, my wife, and our 2 adorable children Fayaaz (then 5) and Inaya (then 3) who changed their life for these few years living in Dar, in almost a parallel world to the one we knew. One where zebra crossings or traffic lights have no meaning and while many things don’t work exactly the way we expect them to and it takes some figuring out to get things done –but – nothing is ever a real problem. Hamna Shida (no problem in Kiswahili). Oh! and the food here is lip-smacking good. Dining-in-Dar was a favourite pastime for us all! The beaches are great too and we have probably had more people visit us than when we were back home in the UK. Some more than once!
Dar was also place where you develop close associations people just because of how life was lived. Expats depend on each other due to the lack of any other support mechanism and live in a very concentrated space (literally 2 locations, Masaki and Upanga). A phrase from popular TV series, Cheers, comes to Salima’s mind when she thinks of Dar and mostly her favourite coffee shop Kahawa – a place “where everybody knows your name”. I ask myself what will I miss most about Dar? The answer is very simple and a complete no brainer, the people! (followed by the food and the job ofcourse (in case the boss reads this blog).
Ah! – the job was good too. The Aga Khan University will remain as a lasting memory on my CV. I managed to achieve things I didn’t know I could do and believe I have built things that I might be remembered for. I have also really mastered the art of “following up” to get a job done. I only dread working in a new environment where that wouldn’t actually be a norm – only annoying. I will go back to London and join a new organisation – as Head of Marketing at a large (I mean it - LARGE) University and while that would sound like a great opportunity, daunting is the word that comes to my mind as it would with all new beginnings. But it will be fine I am told – Hamna Shida.
In spite of being terrible with ‘goodbyes’ I did have some really good last moments with friends and colleagues over some good food, at the beach and some laughter.
SO – is this goodbye? For Dar es salaam it probably is, but I am afraid Geoff – you are not getting rid of me that soon. I will be seeing you! Goodbye’s are only for guests.