I may start going to Sierra Leone more frequently. This is wonderful for my professional and intellectual pursuits, but bad for blogging as a I routinely lack electricity and internet access.
There are plenty of things to love about Sierra Leone. The way people greet you by saying "How di bodi?" and maintain eye contact until you respond "Di bodi good." Or the way little kids make impromptu parades throughout the village when we arrive to collect data.
Here are a few conversations that underscore the charming side of the country...
Example 1: Greeting from Sierra Leonean colleauges after a 1-month hiatus:
"Ooooh Shaaanone. Praise Jesus. You look fine. So fine," said a colleague. "Doesn't Shaanone look so fine?"
(Lots of head-nodding)
"Especially in your face Shannon," she said. "Praise Jesus. You got FAT!!"
Example 2: On data transcription
"Shannon, you will hear in the tape cassette everything we talked about," said a colleague when I asked about an in-depth interview she had just recorded with a mother.
"Well, Fatimata, technically I won't hear it because I don't speak Temne (the language used in the interview)," I said.
"Yes, you'll hear it," she said.
"Just put on your magic headset," she said.
"Shannon," she said, now trying not to get annoyed. "Tell the UN to give you a magic headset. I see them on TV. The magic headset. People understand every language when they put on these headsets. Why wouldn't they tell you about it?!"
Thus ensued a conversation about the role of live, real-time translation.
Example 3: Girl talk
"Why do you have no children?" a village woman and mother of seven asked, through a translator.
"Because I'm waiting," I responded.
"For the right time," I said, wincing at how lame this sounded.
"What is the right time?" she asked.
"I guess it's when I have a bit of money saved for a baby, and a house that a baby could go in, and when I'm not traveling so much," I said.
"You will be very very old when you make babies," she said.
Example 4: Girl talk 2.0
"Where did you buy your hair?"
"I didn't buy it. It's from my head. See." (here we pulled it around to reveal no weave)
"Oh. So which toxic soda do you make as hair relaxant?"