I remember clearly the look on my young daughters’ faces when I approached them with the comb to remove tangles and tidy their hair. Ethiopian hair is often a mass of very soft curls which when left untended sticks out at all angles in a very endearing way.
In an effort to tame the curls, the hair is plaited and twisted into elaborate designs, sometimes with added beads woven through. I am told that it can take an hour and a half to complete a hair style like this on a child – patience.
We attended another wedding last weekend between a doctor and a dentist. There was a ceremony this time, in a huge church that would seat a thousand. Knowing about ‘African time’, as the invitation stated a 3 o’clock start we deliberately arrived later. Not late enough it seemed, as only a handful of people were already seated. Just after 4 o’clock Sister Aster leaned over and told us that the bride had arrived but needed to wait outside for more guests to take their seats. We amused ourselves watching the music group arrive and set up, as well as a team of numerous camera men with a variety of cameras and studio lights. Finally, proceedings began at around half past four – patience.
Following a lively service all in Amharic and with one camera man wearing a fashionable wide-brimmed black hat obscuring the view during the important bits, we emerged outside. A stage had been set up on the grass to which the bride and groom processed through a decorated archway to sit on a white sofa. Then back again to select a plate of food from the buffet, finally resuming their positions, resplendent against the blue and gold trimmed backdrop which was hanging behind the sofa. After everyone had eaten, each layer of the four-layer cake was carried across the grass individually. These were assembled carefully on the table in front of the happy couple by a guy balancing tentatively on a ladder. Hand-held fireworks were lit and waved by bridesmaids. The couple helped each other to cake and champagne by an intricate arm twisted method and there was much jumping up and down and singing. Finally, Sister Aster deemed it appropriate for us to have photographs with the couple and take our leave as darkness fell on the joyful scene – patience.
Intermission: here’s just under two minutes of the wedding reception. See if you can spot them cutting all four layers at once; the bride waving the knife around nearly cutting off the groom’s nose; the photographer wanting them to feed each other cake a second time; the groom behaving like a victorious racing driver; the intertwined arm drinking thing; a groomsman briefly doing air guitar before really getting on down. The music is live and not added. “Misgana” means “praise”, and all the music is entirely Christian.
Each week we withdraw money from a cash machine; largely to pay for shopping and Haile’s taxi service. Recently Phil tried three. Each one rejected the card, one counted the money then displayed ‘out of service’ without dispensing a single note. There was a number to phone but Phil was told the computer was down and he would be dealt with the following day. It’s taken a week and an email to our bank in the UK but finally the money was once again credited to our account – patience.
Yesterday we were driving through the city and I noticed that grass had been planted within the central reservation, sheltered beneath the elevated train line overhead. I wondered how it would be maintained as there will be miles of it to keep in trim. Then I noticed the lady who was bent over cutting a section with a pair of hand held shears – extraordinary patience.
We were on our way to a “White Coat Ceremony” at the Korean Hospital Medical School. This only began half an hour late. The proceedings were interspersed with a number of speeches and it was with significant anticipation that the students were given a white coat. A stethoscope was then hung around each one’s neck. It took three dignitaries and an equal number of helpers to perform this function. Each proud student was photographed from many angles and applauded – patience.
For my birthday, I received a do-it-yourself gel nail kit. I was delighted and used it straight away. As my nails began to grow I was keen to try an alternative colour, so I went to find the bottle of acetone remover that I brought back with me when I returned last rainy season. Imagine my consternation when I found the bottle empty. Apparently, acetone evaporates! I’ll only be able to buy more when we return to the UK for a break in four weeks’ time - patience!
Addendum by Phil:
Last week after a school concert a friend tried to drive out of the car park in front of our apartment block only to find a giant tortoise had wedged itself underneath and couldn’t move. Some jacks were located, some lettuce used as bait, and with a bit of brute force 20 minutes later a disgruntled and slightly scratched tortoise was walking off up the hill – patience.