Visiting Babylon

28 03 2008

I will admit to gawping, to standing goggle eyed and slack jawed in amazement, I may even have let out a few feeble squeaks of pleasure as I looked upon the opulence of the Accra Mall. Like a small child at Christmas unable to decide what to open first I rushed from luxury outlet to luxury outlet through air conditioned, marbled corridors. And when I entered “Shop-Right” I nearly wept, the vast emporium of western decadence containing unheard of delights such as pork sausages and bacon. Row upon row of neatly stacked shelves bulging with the contents of many fevered dreams (OK, my dreams are tamer and more food based than some people’s). As for the food court – milkshakes, burgers, pizza, and fish & chips – I could have spent the whole of Easter just in there, although I might have gained some pounds and lost quite a few Cedis.Easter in Babylon (or Accra as the locals refer to it) was a time of indulgence for me. A cheese and wine supper was followed by a proper fried breakfast (though sadly not even “Shop-Right” stocks black pudding). I had a meal in a decent Chinese restaurant, a milkshake as well as meat feast pizza with extra cheese. I even read the latest “Economist” and stocked up on books, buying a couple and borrowing some too. I now have enough books to keep me going for a few weeks, and to leave me better informed about international development (“Globalisation and its Discontents”, “The Bottom Billion” and “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid”) and the outlaw Jessie James, as well as a couple of works of fiction.

After spending most of the last six months in northern Ghana Accra was a revelation, the bustle, traffic and general level of sophistication nearly overwhelming me. Travelling down on the night bus for the first time was an experience too, the driver didn’t reduce the volume of the radio for the whole trip and we were subjected to an Easter sermon broadcast in Twee at 3am, the preacher sounding either hysterical or possessed, screaming his message in a language I couldn’t understand except for the occasional “Jesus” or scrap of English. Despite this (and plastic covered seats) it wasn’t a bad trip, I even managed to get a reasonable amount of sleep in various short bursts. We arrived in Accra around 6am on Thursday morning after a 13 hour trip. My biggest dilemma was which pair of socks to wear – if I wore my socks with “Wednesday” on they would be wrong for part of the trip, but so would my “Thursday” socks. I rejected the option of changing them at midnight as impractical so settled on extending Wednesday until my arrival in Accra, meaning I could wear clean socks on Thursday.

As well as a weekend of gluttony it was also a chance to catch up with quite a few volunteer friends I hadn’t seen for a while (and one of the Salaga crew who I had seen but was worth seeing again). It was fun to grumble, gripe, discuss, debate and gossip with a really good bunch of people.

I left Accra reluctantly, but happy and as compensation one of the movies the bus showed was the first Nigerian Kung Fu/Bollywood fusion I’ve ever seen. All the characteristics of the standard Nigerian movie, but with poorly choreographed fight scenes and a strange dream sequence in which two of the main (Nigerian) characters dressed in Indian clothes and sang and danced Bollywood style.




2 responses

28 03 2008
Ellen Cranton

Absoluely brilliant!! I giggled my way through – particularly the part about the sock dilemma. Can’t say I ever dream about food though!!

17 04 2009

mmmmmmm sausages I can’t wait…

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