Thursday, February 18, 2010

Meeting with Marina

When I was in Tanzania, I went to Zanzibar ( You have two options to reach Zanzibar from Dar Es Salaam – Either through ferry or through air. The upward journey I preferred to take the ferry to experience the sea.

Stone town ( is the place that you land (no matter whether you catch ferry or go by air) at zanzibar.

I reached the stone town about 2 hours earlier than my friend who came through air. We both decided to stay in a place which is around 50 kms away from the city of stone town. I called the hotel lady and asked where I can have my breakfast and she suggested Stone Town Café.

The stone town café is a small café around the corner of a road side. Most of the chairs were laid outside and it was mostly filled in with foreign couples, mostly Europeans.

I spotted a place where I can sit – a table for two. I ordered by breakfast and waited for it to get delivered.

When I sat there, I noticed a European lady who might be in her early forty’s who was sitting alone behind me. She was deeply into reading some book and sipping her coffee or tea. In between she walked across to the other corner of the café to put her mobile and laptop for charging.

I was alone and I was like bored to wait for 2 hours doing nothing. So I thought of entering into a conversation with this lady.

I got introduced to Marina from germany living in Africa for several years.

She informed me that there has been power shortage for several months. There has been some problem in the power cable and so for several months there is no power in the island. She comes to the café to have her breakfast and charge her gadgets.

Marina used to work in a hotel. Now, due to the power issues, most of the small shops/ hotels are closed. She lost her job since the hotel she worked got closed. She informed me that the temperature is too hot there and during nights we can hear the kids cries and people coming out of their houses and sitting outside. Since the power was not there they never use any pump sets and people get to take head bath once a week or so. She even needed to pay for getting a bucket of water.

I was like shocked to know that she was living alone in such a country for several years, far away from her own country. She told me that as long as we have a job it is not a problem to live anywhere. She mentioned that her skin is white and so whenever she goes to the market the price for each item gets hiked naturally.

I mentioned my experience in Saudi. If you are a white skin, you get to have a separate line starting from the immigration clearance. The Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshi’s stand in que for several hours, while the white get to enter the country in minute’s time. So I concluded that white skin has got its own positive side too.

She got married and stayed in Kenya for some years with her husband and later she decided to get into a job in Tanzania. She now lives alone and is in touch with her husband through phone and sms.

I wondered how people can stay away from each other and be in touch like that - Especially, when they are married.

During our casual conversation we discussed about married life and single life. She wondered how come I am not married. According to her, Indian guys of thirty five plus age are mostly married and that too arranged marriage.

I asked her about the book that was reading and she told me that the story in the book is about the love between a guy and a girl.

She told me that when a girl says something she means something and when a guy listens to it he catches something else. We discussed about how different the thought process of a man and woman is.

When you are single you get an opportunity to explore more and be more free and you can do anything you wish to do. But you will be alone and when you need a shoulder you might not have it.

When you marry, you need to adjust with the other person and you can’t do everything that you wish to do, however you will be sure that you have someone waiting for you always.

She made some remarks like, it is better to get married when you know the right person. When you meet one person, you put across your better self. You do act polished. However when you get close and attached, the politeness goes away and we become blunt.

I needed to leave the café when my friend came and say good bye to Marina. It was really an interesting conversation that I had with Marina; I always had an impression that a lady won’t be able to live alone in a foreign country without knowing the language and with no one to help.

There she was, living alone
Alone for several years
Far away from her country
Even without knowing the language
Living her life contended.
Things are possible on earth if we really wish it for.

PS: When I was at the airport, I got this message ‘Now I am at the stone café, I will always remember the meeting with you. Have a safe flight’. Thanks to Marina.

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