Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Batswana humor

(Okay, but is there a comedy scene in the Okavango Delta? I don't know, but this monkey's laughing at someone.)

I'm sure that Botswana has a comedy scene and said comedy scene will be very disappointed when it discovers I've co-opted this blog name. So I decided to do a little research about the comedy scene in Botswana to see what kinds of things make people in Botswana laugh (or say "ha!" in a semi-pitying way and sip their drinks self-consciously, like audiences do here).

Googling "Botswana comedy" brings up 904,000 results! Crap! There goes my whole ironic approach to the possibility of comedy in Southern Africa!

The top hits are a couple of links to articles from AllAfrica.com. An article dated January 2010 had this headline:

Luzboy Returns With Humour in Comedy CD

The article begins: "For someone with a law degree, Gabz FM radio presenter and funny man, Maluza, Luzboy, Losika Seboni fuses humour and facts in a funny yet subtle way that helps him avoid potential lawsuits."

Okay, so to summarize, there's a radio comic named Luzboy who is also a lawyer(!) and yet subtly funny. Lately, his act revolves around a character named Daisy Bird le Maluza, a drunkard. In one bit, she can't believe that her boyfriend, a mortician, can count.

"Daisy Bird narrates how her boyfriend was shocked when he was counting up to 27! Then Maluza asks: "A o e le gore o ne a bala'ng jaanong ko mmoshareng se se 27? (What actually was he counting at the mortuary, which counted up to 27?). That's when Daisy Bird says: "Gatwe marumo"( It was bullets!)."

Get it? He wasn't counting dead bodies; he was counting how many times one dude had been shot! Jeez, this may actually be really dark social satire. Certainly, Luzboy doesn't shy away from more sensitive subjects: "In one comedy, the relationship between Chinese men and black women is exploited in a humorous style, too."

That's actually one I've never heard, although I can certainly picture myself heckling someone who made that kind of joke here, so perhaps we are not so different.

I also found an article (you can find it too by googling "Botswana comedy" and then only looking at the results on the first page) about the growing comedy scene in Botswana titled:

Live comedy stints attracting a steadily growing audience

So apparently not only is the Botswana comedy scene not limited to a blog I'm writing from Philadelphia but it's also growing! The most popular show is called Kings of Comedy, which reminds me of a show my friends do in Long Island City, Queens, another place with a growing comedy scene.

Some of the jokes the reporter recorded were pretty decent--at least they had a set-up and a punchline, even it the punchline depended on a bit of Tswana vernacular I can't understand. But some jokes are universal:

"[One comedian]’s act involved making fun of random people in the audience, especially the two white people who were among the crowd."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two weeks to departure

(An elephant. Probably in Africa. Photo via Peo Pea on Flickr because I started my Botswana blog before I got there.)

Done taking my typhoid pills! And, remarkably, I have developed neither typhoid nor a life-threatening allergic reaction (yet). Congratulate me!

Still have hep A and tetanus shots to go (keep putting them off), and need to pick up malaria pills, cipro...the list never ends. Medical expenses have been by far the most difficult thing to plan for this trip. I have no health insurance right now (since I have no full-time job), so I had to buy short-term insurance to cover emergencies for the summer. Then I had to buy separate international health insurance (also only covers emergencies).

I called my bank, which offers health insurance, and is also a good bank full of nice people. They transferred me to the third party that sells their health insurance. Then the health insurance company transferred me to the third party that sells their international health insurance. Then the international health insurance company sold me health insurance via a third party marketer. By the end of the conversation, I wasn't talking to someone nice from my bank. I was talking to Chris from Ohio who was brusque and didn't care if I'd always maintained a healthy balance in my savings account.

On top of that, you have to read through the company's policies, and they want you to think about things like the repatriation of your remains, which I assume is a small ceremony involving a flag and a justice of the peace. I really do not like to think about my remains. It gives me the heebie-jeebies to even type that I don't like to think about them. I don't mind thinking about being horribly injured, but dying is another thing, because if it's too late for me then why did I spend so much money on health insurance?

Monday, August 23, 2010

Three weeks to departure

(Photo via Flickr since I'm not actually in Botswana yet)

Three weeks to departure and I just swallowed my first typhoid vaccine pill. After taking any new kind of pill, I need to lie down immediately. I've found my anxiety about having an allergic reaction to new pills is so strong that I will begin to feel faint and imagine I am having trouble breathing. It's easier to just lie down right away and then in a half hour or so, I'll know my throat would have been closing up by now and that I'm probably going to be fine.

I've been having a lot of anxiety dreams, mostly about babies. First I dreamed an airplane crashed right next to my old apartment on the Upper West Side. It just stopped flying in mid-air, fell to the ground, paused dramatically, and then exploded into flames. A and I were nearby, and we ended up taking care of the one surviving person on the flight--an Indian orphan girl who had just been adopted by Westerners. Even though she wasn't that cute, we knew it was our responsibility to care for her. But we couldn't take her to Botswana, so we decided to leave her at the hospital.

I do actually have allergic reactions to some pills. Nothing serious, but I will get a rash or hives.

Then two nights ago I dreamed I was pregnant and could see the shape of the baby's foot coming out of my stomach when it kicked from inside. That was weird. And last night there was, again, some baby I was supposed to take care of.

I think about babies in the daytime, too, but not more than normal. Maybe the baby is a symbol of how nurturing I am, or a frantic attempt by my psyche to prevent me from traveling. Then again, my subconscious chose Southern Africa over the baby in the first dream, so...

Last night, we met up with J and Y, our predecessors in Botswana. They had nothing but good things to say, although Y did tell me not to bring my engagement ring (it has a pearl--no diamonds--A and I make constant self-conscious references to its cheapness). That was disappointing because it's pretty and fun to wear. I will probably bring it anyway and then regret it.

Other things they warned us about:

1) People often will simply request your clothing, jewelry, etc. I.e. "I like your shirt. Give me your shirt." This is coworkers, mind you, not random people on the street.

2) Driving is hard or complicated.

3) Finding housing is difficult.

4) Johannesburg and South Africa in general are a bad neighborhood (I stole that joke from The Onion).

5) People maybe aren't so into the Jews.

I think I've been lying here long enough that I can get up now.