Geoff Tennant - Promoting access to mathematics for all
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14/1/13: a few random observations

A few random things on my mind I'd like to share with you:
Public (or bank) holidays  There are an awful lot of them here - 17 altogether!!!!  Compared to just 8 in the UK.  So, that's all the Christian and Muslim holidays plus a number of others - so there are separate holidays celebrating independence day for Tanganyika and Zanzibar, and then also Union Day - ie. the union of Tanganyika and Zanzibar to become the United Republic of Tanzania.  Not to mention Julius Nyerere Day and a number of others.
Like so many things, there are a number of further complications.  Whereas 5 of the 8 UK holidays are fixed by day - 4 on Monday and 1 on Friday - most of the Tanzanian holidays happen on fixed dates, so, for example, May Day is necesarily on 1st May.  A change in the law a few years ago means that, if holidays occur at weekends, there is no compensatory holiday during the week, so people who work Monday to Friday can, in practice, have a wide variation in the number of public holidays they have from year to year. And, Muslim holidays rotate around the year and are not fixed until a day or two beforehand.  Although this caused much greater problems in Leicester where Muslim holidays are not officially celebrated than here.
Traffic lights get ignored in two situations.  One is when things are busy on main roads, when very often police officers take over direction of the traffic.  Have to say I'm far from convinced that traffic flow is better as a result.  Also, I have some difficulty in interpreting police officers' hand gestures, my rule is to do the same as the car in front.  The other time traffic lights get ignored is when things are quiet and they are treated as 'proceed with caution' signals rather than stop as such.  Note to self: must relearn to drive when I go back to the UK, will get into awful trouble if I don't!
Life for pedestrians is hazardous as, when traffic gets busy, bijajis, motor bikes, cars and even buses and lorries use the (not always very well defined) pavement as an extra lane.  Also, roads, including one on my obvious way home, can become one way at busy times, I'm not sure that this picture really shows the sheer mayhem going on:
This is supposed to be a two way straight with traffic on the left.  In fact traffic heading away from me is going to tthe right, with traffic coming towards spread right across the road.  I tend to walk to and from wprk and, when I do drive, take a longer route home.  It's all very well adopting the high moral ground but it doesn't get me back to my flat any faster or more safely!
Fruit and veg generally is wonderful partiuclarly coconuts that I've commented on before.  Some interesting differences.  Cucumbers taste much the same but are considerably smaller.  Ripe oranges are green.  Bananas don't last for very long at all for two reasons I think - one is that what I can buy locally from street sellers are not to export quality, and also there are no preservatives added.  Tomatoes are the exception to the rule, they don't seem to be as good as back in the UK.  And, as in Jamaica, fruit and veg is sold which is not of the highest quality, if you're aware of this it makes an awful lot more sense than the huge wastage that goes on in ensuring that they're cosmetically perfect.
Students don't seem to like making appointments which is fine, I'm very happy for them to come to see me without.  But on two conditions.  One is that I might be saying that I need to finish something, can they come back later.  They other is that I might be out, either for a minute or two or the whole day.  What annoys me is when, as seems to happen quite often, they come to see me and tell me that they tried several times yesterday and earlier in the day and I wasn't in in an accusatory tone as if I've done something wrong!  Don't think I'm going to win on this one....
And just one more thing.  Pleased to say, further to my post of 31/12/12, that George's lion arrived safely, here he is just after having opened it:
Have to say, George, your coat is making me feel homesick, haven't worn one now for quite some months!

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