|Wooden Gate, Pink House, Kable 7, Bahirdar|
The first to get a house were Bala and Vasavi. They got a nice house in Kable 13, a good four kilometers from Poly. We were getting desperate as we were not used to living out of a suitcase. And with two kids who had all the time in the world, it was a nerve wracking experience.
Accommodation was not available in the university and even if it was available, it was not being offered to the Indians. We Indians have a very good way of trying to cut each other’s throats. Like the saying goes “we are not worried when we have power cut in our house, we only get worried if there is no power cut in our neighbor’s house!”.
Then it happened! the university officials called me. There was a house available in Kable 7 (Sabat). And it was just a kilometre away from PEDA, my place of work. Excitedly we rushed to the house. At the first look, the house was pretty disappointing. It was a pink coloured house with a tin roof. It had false ceiling made of thermocol sheets. Approximately it would be around 300 square yards in size.
The house had a quite alarmingly sharp tin gate which had wooden supports and the boundary wall was made of rough stones mounted onto each other rather haphazardously. There one house on its left and it was occupied by an Indian teacher Chidambaram from my own management department and the boundary wall between his house and this house again was a very “you push, I fall” type of apologetic cane partition that was thoroughly soaked in rain and it had a woebegone expression on it.
It was as if it was sorry that it was a boundary wall. In its own view it was not a great boundary wall at all! But it had great pride. It draped itself with a creeper of unknown variety and it always reminded me of a shy maiden peeping behind her green veil.
And the cane wall boundary was tilted and had a huge gap and through it we could see almost the entire portico of the next house!
Padma the ever witty exclaimed “it just looks like our own tadika!’ (a thin a cane sheet used to protect one from sun and rain in India). She waved an accusing finger at Pranav and said “Young fellow, you better not get rough and fall on it. One fall and it would get smashed. As it is university property, we are not even very sure as how much will be charged from Nanna’s salary as damages”. Even though said in jest, Pranav was suitably impressed. He whispered “amma, I would be careful”
On the right was another house and again the boundary wall made of rough stones and it had many holes and trouble was already brewing. There were at least 3 to 4 kids welcoming us the Ethiopian way – loud shouts and babuji’s were flowing freely. Internally I heaved a huge sigh –the unwanted attention can wear one down. It was so relentless and loud too!
The entire front yard had big rocks and small boulders and there was no garden at all. It was hot and dusty. It was not what we expected. It looked as if we were in rural India and not the idyllic African setting we wanted.
The house had a small L shaped portico and an Iron door. The drawing room had huge glass panes. The house had a decent drawing room and it opened into a small kitchen. The kitchen was occupied by Mulugeta the Kable 7’s watchman. He had his bedroll in the kitchen. The drawing room had a rest room to one of its side and two bedrooms on both sides. It was a small and passable house but we did not like it. The floor of the house was not smooth and it was covered by a synthetic sheet and it had a rough and ready look. And with no furniture it was not a house to look forward to.
We did not like the house and told the puzzled university official the same news. Like most Ethiopians he took the news stolidly and grinned. I understood that he would convey our feeling to the administrative head of the university.