Today, I complete three weeks in Ghana – everything has been smooth and pleasant so far. In many ways, settling in has been easy and I am starting to believe that approaching a change of location as emotionless-ly as possible works! Neutralise expectations from people you are likely to meet, temper the doubts in your mind about food, weather, transport…everything. (admittedly though, what I am really paranoid about are snakes – and no, in my mind, it is not stupid at all that I try to keep my feet off the floor as much as possible!).
Kind partner institute, ISSER sorted out housing for me even before I got here – a major portion of settling down. Transport – I bought a bike (bicycle) – after two weeks of careful consideration of the distance I need to commute to work, the deep open gutters all along the road and getting used to the traffic driving on the right – its great fun and I would strongly advise it to everyone. As I told a friend here last week, I am confident I am not going to die young…So thats essential transport to work taken care of. The lifeline of public transport in Accra is the tro-tro (mini-van) and I was completely intimidated by them for a few days to begin with. I havent mastered it yet, but have sampled them enough, started recognising the hand signals that refer to specific stations and can count on them as an option when I travel.
What I have little hope with are the local languages. It pricks my ego that I cant seem to pick even a single word (I had learnt the word for ‘Thank You’ and then promptly forgotten). It amuses me (reminding me of India) when people from different parts of Ghana themselves do not understand each other’s languages and have to resort of English to communicate. If I were able to even partially crack even one of the local languages, I would consider that a great personal achievement.
And work…has been fine. I enjoy the sense of camaraderie that exists here across hierarchies and I know I am working with a group that is serious, committed and competent.
About 21 months later, happy to report that I had a great time here. Public transport is fine; the language still a mystery. Both ISSER and IPA were great to be around and I leave hoping I will come back – adding to the list of places I feel familiar with and that I know I could live in. Work has seen ups and downs, as one might expect and there have been moments that were hugely satisfying professionally and some others, that were pretty frustrating. I will write more about it after I leave here, I think – there are lots of little things that made a difference; and none so much as to make these two years any different on average from any previous year – and that’s mostly the way I wanted it to be.
Now with three weeks to go and at the verge of taking major leaps in both my personal and professional life, I am trying, as usual, to be calm and non-curious. Its a bit harder this time though.
Delhi, I know; a job with KPMG – not really. Sanjana, I know; marriage – ??