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posted Jul 6, 2012, 10:49 PM by jj pionke
When we think of places or even people, it's complete sensory input.  We don't often think of a person or a place in terms of one sense like sight.  Each place and each person is unique in it's own way, especially when all the senses are combined.  We might make comparisons to other places so that whoever we are talking to will have an idea of what we are talking about, for instance, when I said that if NY, LA, and Chicago all got together and had a child, it would be Singapore.  Singapore is a little like all three of those places and like none of them at all.  How do I describe Uganda?  How do I describe Entebbe?  I am not sure that I can really for Western people.  I've been trying to catch little pieces here and there of this place on this blog but it's woefully inadequate.  Sound might be a good indicator at what I mean.

When/if I wake up in the dead of night, I hear nothing.  There are no cars, no planes, no people up late in the wee hours.  If a dog starts to bark, the hue and cry is picked up by all of them so that you can kind of guess where the barking started and where it went, like a wave.  At 6amish the cock starts to crow and will continue to crow throughout the morning.  Laced on top of this in the morning is the sounds of women scrubbing clothes, running water, and children.  There are many children where my apt is located.  They are not yet old enough for school so they spend their day playing games and running around screaming and crying and laughing.  There is a baby nearby that will cry.  Depending on the time of day and where I am going, I might here young men/teenagers playing basketball by Anna's Corner, hear the sizzle of meat on an open fire grill, hearing honking of cars, vans, and boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) as they try to "wake up" people walking so they don't get hit.  There's music, almost always.  The roomie calls it a disco and it might very well be that, I don't know.  Anna's Corner always has music playing - pop hits from home which has, in part I think, made that restaurant popular with expats.  The people around the apt also have music with words I don't recognize, played from radios.

Since I live in an apt/hotel complex that is basically comprised of UN workers, there are the sounds of the UN.  Everyday, they leave at 730am and it sounds like a mass troop movement as they all start up their cars.  The gate sounds like thunder as it's rolled open by the guard, and then, like a herd of elephants, the UN is gone to wherever the heck it is the UN goes.  Until they come back in the late evening of course and then it's the reverse, thunder, elephants, and then talking as they head up to their rooms.

The archives is the quiet of papers rustling, and the tik tak tik tak of keys on keyboards as data is entered.  Interspersed with all of this is the sound of talking as someone finds something of interest.  My best find from yesterday was a letter from a woman who was inquiring as to the legality of walking from Kampala to the Mediterranean.  She made it a point to state clearly that she wasn't interested in their opinion of the venture, just of the legality of it.  I shared this with the team and there was laughter, followed by a chorus of put my name next to that document for further research!

At this very moment, there is the sound of a hammer as a worker does something to the apartment next door.  I sincerely hope that he is not at it all day or there might be crying on my part.

We are very near the airport, we can see it from the front balcony so there are sometimes the sounds of planes.  Last night, there was the roar of a helicopter as it flew right over this apt.  When I say roar, I mean so loud you would not have been heard if you had shouted, that is how close it was.  Very rarely is there the sounds of sirens.  When there are sirens, it's almost always the President or someone of importance.

The sounds of life here are like home and yet completely not.