Sauntering

Posted February 20, 2007 in Uganda

Africa is closer to the sun than Canada. The rays hit it perpendicarly. And while it's not excessively hot in Uganda, I think the sun may still explain the cultural phenomenon of sauntering. Or maybe it's the fact that there's less oxygen in the air. Or maybe they know something here that we don't understand.

Walk down the streets of New York at a leisurely pace, and you will get in the way of countless businessmen, students, children, and just plain random people, who have a destination and a deadline. They'll brush past you, and you'll mutter an apology and check your pockets to make sure you weren't robbed.

Or not. More likely, you have an agenda also, and you're fixated on accomplishing what you need to do today. So you'll walk at a brisk pace. I mean, who in his right mind has the extra five minutes it takes to stroll from departure point to destination, in this day and age?

But here in Uganda, everywhere I have been, the people do not walk: they saunter. Literally and figuratively. When an appointment is made for a certain time, the implication is, well, to meet sometime within an hour of that time. When setting up a list of things to do in a given day, one must keep in mind that only one task on that list will actually end up completed (no matter how minute the tasks). People amble in to work sometime in the vicinity of the beginning of the work day, and they leave sometime around when their work day ends. And nobody ever runs (or even hurries).

It all takes some getting used to. Those who know me can probably attest that my mind races around at a pace only matched by recent particle accelerators. As often as not, I'll simply jog or run to my destination instead of walking. So I'm trying hard to acclimatize myself to this sauntering culture.

I have more I could write, but I'll let my ideas seep out gradually through subsequent posts. They'll get here eventually, so why hurry? And if they don't, oh well. (How am I doing?)