Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Is Africa


I know what you're thinking, Transient Ischemic Attack?  Obviously, that is what most people would first think of when seeing that acronym.  I did, it is nothing to be ashamed about.  But here in Africa, you hear that acronym spoken out loud quite often, and there is certainly not a deluge of stroke-like symptoms sweeping the region.

It stands for: THIS IS AFRICA, and it means that everything you know from your old life is up in the air, assuming you grew up in a rich and powerful first-world nation like I did.  Coming from the United States, I have grown to accept that every once in a while during summer-heatwave-air-conditioning-turning-on-frenzies, I might lose electricity for a while to a black-out, or brown-out (a term which has always reminded me of poo for some reason).  Otherwise, I can expect to run my air conditioner, PS3, plasma tv, white noise generator, refrigerator, deep freeze, surround sound, all while leaving the lights on in the middle of the day, without so much as a flicker in my electrical supply.  God bless America, am I right?!


So woe is me when I get the news that I can expect up to 14 hours of power cuts a day here in my particular region of Africa.  I can expect to hang out in my dark and cold apartment, eating spoiled food and drinking warm milk, while reading a book by candlelight, from 6 pm to 8 am.  Essentially, all the time I am home from work.  Hot showers are no longer an option, since my apartment has a shower-head water heater.

But it aint really that bad, right?  I mean, luke-warm milk is kind of nice, if I let it sit for a while I will have free yogurt.  I love yogurt!  Cold showers are invigorating! Hot water is for wussies and girly-men!

Pictured: A non-girly-man not giving a fuck about cold showers.

WRONG! I will tell you why, too.  The reason power cuts suck is because you never quite know when they will hit.  One second you are enjoying Big Cats on the NatGeo channel, and the next you are sitting in a dark room looking silly on the couch.  The energy company told us that cuts would start at 6 pm, but sometimes they hit at 5pm, and sometimes 8 pm. It is a guessing game, and I recently lost a gamble when I tried to cut my own hair using some electric clippers.

What my hair looked like before the cut (except I obviously pay more attention to my obliques then this here Ryan Reynolds fella).

Last weekend, late afternoon, the sun was starting to go down and the sky had a beautiful golden quality to it.  The air was crisp, cool,  and smelled like burnt trash, all together, a very pleasant evening.  Later on this particular night, I had plans to meet my boss for dinner.  My hair had recently grown slightly long and shaggy, and I was in need of some grooming, so I made my way to my colleague's house to make use of his hair clippers.  Lazily, I started buzzing my head with a trimming-guard on the clippers, cutting a little here, a little there, working my way around my scalp.  My hair was going to look great, perfectly accentuating my many wonderful facial features.  Everything was going great, right up until the power went out.  I was only half-finished with my head, with long patches of hair sticking out all over the place, and nothing was of an even length.

Bad/unfinished haircuts are only acceptable if you have legions of adoring fans.  My blog has a grand-total of 6 followers.  I couldn't expect to pull it off.

Shit.  What can I do now?  I gambled and lost, and there was no guarantee that I would have power again all weekend, let alone in time to finish my head before dinner.  I saw only one way out of this mess--the razor.  I had never taken a razor to my head before and I figured, what the hell?  I am in Africa and not trying to impress anybody, and it is the only way to get my hair to an even length at this point.  

There was still some light left, easily enough time to shave my head, I thought.  After all, it takes about 3 minutes for me to shave my face in the morning, why should it take much longer to shave my head?  Much to my chagrin, I soon found that shaving your head is a skill, and that if you are not careful, your razor quits working very quickly, and you will be left working at the same section repeatedly.  So there I am, scraping my head with a dull and clogged razor, racing against the clock and the night.  I soon lose, and was forced to continue in the darkness. Eventually, my friend found a handheld flashlight that greatly helped with the process.  I soon finished and admired my work via flashlight in the mirror.  

My scalp has not seen the sun since I was an infant, and my head is slightly peanut-shaped.  To top it off, I have a Gorbachev style birthmark that proceeds up from my hair line about two inches up my scalp.  Looking in the mirror, I got a glimpse of what I will look like as an old man---TOTALLY BADASS!

Lex Luthor for President, 2012!

Now, it has been 5 days since I shaved my head and my hair is growing back at an alarming rate.  I passed the Vin Diesel stage in about 2 days and will soon be back at Ryan Reynolds. I give it 2 months, tops.  Until today, it has been rainy and cloudy, ruining all my plans of getting a totally sweet head-tan.  I guess my scalp will just have to stay cancer-free for a while longer.  You got lucky this time, scalp!

So there you have it, T.I.A.  This is Africa, an things as seemingly simple as a haircut can turn totally ridiculous.

This time, the dark continent forced me to accept an even-more-badass-then-usual hairstyle.  Next time, it might force the eviction of strange and dangerous animals from our office.  But that is for another blog, on another day (probably tomorrow ya impatient bastards).  So stay tuned for more idiocy from Africa!

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