How I ended up Scottish dancing with a Tanzanian
Tim says that unfortunately there aren’t linens yet. I’m moving into his house this weekend. It will be good for me to live with some mzungu, to have friends around to hang out, to create some spontaneous social opportunities.
‘That’s fine,’ I tell him. I have linens, and we can pick up some sheets. ‘Maybe we can post on Tangaza to see if anyone has spares.’
Tangaza is the local Google group. People post wanted ads, things that they’re selling, local events. I get curious and open up the page as I finalize arrangements with Tim.
It starts at 1930. I will be fashionably late. Around 1730, it starts to rain. And then it starts to pour. Huge buckets fall forth from the sky, so loud on the ceiling that we’re yelling indoors just to be heard over the din. The rain bounces up and gets in everywhere. The spray extends a few feet from the wall into each room. Outside, everything close to the ground is covered in mud splashes.
But the rain lasts only half an hour or so. By the time the sun is setting and it’s dusk outside, I determine to walk to C’Africa for the céilidh.
I greet the barkeep, Franzi. She’s sweet, a German expat. I saddle up to the bar to talk with her and to take a Serengeti.
The others are late, she tells me. Some have cancelled because of the weather. A couple’s car broke down, and they probably won’t make it.
But eventually, enough of us show up to dance. Duncan, an Irishman, and his Indian-Tanzania wife Sakina. Claire, an Aussie who’s just arrived in Tanzania today. And Alfred, Adam’s friend with whom I’m living now.
So Sakina and Duncan call out the steps, teach us to reel. I’m not bad. Maybe it’s in my blood. It’s certainly not the kind of dancing that the Tanzanians are used to.
But we lead them along, calling out kulia and kushoto instead of right and left, anything to help them make sense of all of this twirling and casting out.
And that’s how I ended up Scottish dancing with a Tanzanian. And an Irishman. And an Indian. And an Aussie. At a German pub.