As per sororal, paternal and neighborly request, A Day in the Life.

On an average day, I wake up between six-thirty and seven-thirty, which sadly is normal for me in the States as well. In the States I have a pressing need for privacy in the mornings, generally wasting time for as much as an hour before I want to speak to other people or eat breakfast, and that has not changed here, it’s just gotten more analog. I play solitaire, with actual cards, or do sudoku (hush, trinitysite, if you read this), or occasionally read or write in a journal. At around seven Lucy will start playing music from her room next door, so loudly I can hear every word and the walls shake with the bass. Somewhere in that time Lucy will knock on my door, ask what I want for breakfast, and suggest I prepare it myself or serve myself. I tell her I will, and do so in about half an hour, when I’m ready. I assemble my bag, filling it with my drama class folder, the book I’m reading, too many notebooks and journals, money (now kept between tissues in a tissue packet and placed in the back inside pocket of my Explore Chicago bookbag), pocketknife, pills, pens, junk, and stop in to chat with Amadou for a while, getting directions to the quick errand I will run this morning–a trip to the faster post office at the Airport, for example, or to the bookshop at the University of Ghana-Legon to pick up a few books about theater. I leave the hostel and take off on the errand, stopping at the convenience store on the way to get a couple of sachets of water, and call “ete sen?” to everyone who calls me “obruni” as I hit the taxi rank or the tro-tro station.

On my errand, I see many more white people than I ever see at my town of residence. Depending on my mood, I will either smile at them or avoid their eyes.

After I am done, I find the tro-tro that will take me to Pokuase. Very occasionally it is only one tro-tro; sometimes two, often several. If I am coming from Amadou’s, it takes two tro-tros and one shared taxi. I generally arrive by noon, occasionally earlier, occasionally later. If I’m earlier, it’s because I have to speak to schools all day and have not taken a morning errand, but if I’m there at noon, I am usually early for whatever I have planned for the afternoon and have a ton of down time. I sit in the organization’s office, chat with the not generally very chatty office staff, and read the newspaper or my book. I go out into the main lobby (which is about the size of my bedroom at Amadou’s) and hang out with the nurses from the clinic across the hall, who tend to be much, much chattier and teach me a lot of Twi. I go across the street to buy some fried yams and pepper sauce, or down the street to Millicent’s where I buy a plate of rice and stew, for lunch, and generally buy a grilled plantain afterwards. Sometimes I’ll buy pineapple from a row of women near the Area Council Building; they all compete to see who will get my patronage today. I may have a brief meeting with Davis, but as often as not he’s busy with his cellphone shop.

After that, I start whatever plan I have for the afternoon. Most recently, it has been interviews with the kids. I go to the water station next door to get the key to the main hall, open it, and set up shop. My Ghanaian teaching assistants, Sarah or Priscilla (depending on the day), arrive; sometimes Davis is there as well. A ton of children arrive and sign in, and I speak to them, most recently one at a time. I struggle to remember some names and faces; others come more naturally.

My head is completely clear when I’m with the kids. That’s true at home, too. When I’m chatting with the nurses, half of my mind is elsewhere, thinking about Ghana, thinking about the social content of this interaction, thinking about going home. With the kids, I don’t think of anything until my time with them is done.

I chat with Sarah or Priscilla or Davis and set up time for our next meeting. Then I reload my bag and walk towards the tro-tro station across the street from central Pokuase, walking past the ping-pong table and winding among small stores and stands. A few children say hi to me; now that I’ve interviewed many children and started going to schools, some even call me by name instead of just “obruni.” If I was meeting with Davis, he is walking with me; the women let me walk alone. More often than not, I detour to a urinal behind one of the houses, as I’ll be travelling for an hour and a half or more to get home. I have become buddies with a woman named Peggy, whose fruit stand near the road sells oranges (pretty disgusting in Ghana), pineapples and pawpaw. I will probably buy a pineapple from her someday, but I have yet to do so. We chat for a few minutes; she tells me I am leaving late today, though that should be normal by now, while her eighteen-month-old son, who has also begun to recognize me, runs around her feet.

My first tro-tro, Pokuase to St. John’s, usually takes forever, as the Chinese are building a highway for part of the way and we are meandering with myriad commuters down a road not only unpaved but, given its traffic, ridiculously narrow. Hawkers stop by our windows in the hope that we will purchase their wares, water or plantain chips or soda or maps of Ghana, in the standstill; often we do. When we finally arrive at St. John’s, I walk past the many mates (conductors) screaming “Obruni! Where you going? Hey!” to the area whence I know tro-tros bound in my direction usually depart. I ask the mates for Madina-bound cars, usually about the third one in, and wait while it fills up. When we are packed to the gills, the mate hops on on and the driver takes off. Traffic from St. John’s to my stop, Atomic Junction, can be pretty bad as well, but usually has nothing on the first leg–it’s just longer from the get-go. The sun usually sets completely while I’m in this car, meaning I can’t read anymore. At Atomic Junction, I leave the tro-tro rank, again ignoring the mates who solicit me, and find at the taxi rank the taxi that has the “New Road/Estate” sign sitting on top of it. It takes four people to fill a shared taxi, and when we’re all inside, the driver puts the sign on top of another cab and takes off. I pay him by tapping him on the shoulder while he drives.

At home, Lucy or Joyce, usually Joyce, is cooking. I ask if I can help. Usually I am too late to do anything. I unlock my room, put my stuff down, and sit at my desk reading for a while before Joyce calls that dinner is ready. When she has told me to serve myself, she will sometimes stay and eat with me, but more often she returns to Lucy’s beauty shop down the street, where she works. I eat alone, using only my right hand, wash my hands by pouring a small bucket of water from our main water barrel over it, and put my dishes in a basin to be washed tomorrow. (Occasionally I do them; I always volunteer to wash the dishes, but even if I say I will, Lucy wants it done before I get up.) I mess around in my room for a bit, or go say hi to Amadou, before Lucy and Joyce come home. We sit and chat for a bit, often with my neighbor down the hall Jamal, before I become too exhausted and start filling the shower bucket from the water barrel. “Are you going to bath?” Lucy asks, even when the answer is obvious. I place the bucket in the shower, undress and grab my towel, soap, washcloth and shampoo in my room, and return to the shower room, where I pour small bucketfuls of water over myself. I say goodnight to Lucy and Joyce as I leave the shower, even though I will re-emerge to brush my teeth. Sometimes they’ve already gone to bed. It tends to be around ten by this time.

I’ll sit at my desk and journal or play solitaire for a while longer, wearing pajamas, then brush my teeth and shut my lights out, using the flashlight as a bedside lamp. I’ve become more addicted to my iPod than I am comfortable with, and will listen to songs at random as I read myself to sleep beneath my mosquito net.

That’s a work day. Days off are different. But since I have more work days, that counts as average.

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