Making photocopies!? – Sept 23. 2009

As we are meant to head out to visit yet another school to introduce the Journey to teachers and pupils alike, we noticed that we don’t have enough English Journey scripts to be able to divide the crowd of about 120 secondary school students into their respective age groups in order to facilitate for them. So Moses and I opt to set off early in the morning to drive up to Oyugis, the nearest market place, to make some photocopies, so that each of us Practitioners and Training Practitioners have their own English script. In dry weather conditions, the drive takes about 15 min. When wet the track disintegrates into a soapy kind of mud slide, extremely tricky to negotiate by car and equally tricky to walk on. But we are in luck, this morning the road is dry and the only obstacles are the rocks sticking out, potentially ripping off the exhaust from underneath a passing vehicle and one or the other stubborn bull being driven towards the river for watering. Even more lucky, this morning the car actually starts as we haven’t yet again managed to run down the battery by charging the laptop overnight and powering the one light bulb that helps us keep orientated in our house at night. However, as we’re about to set off and Thomas does his usual morning car check (he loves “checking” whatever there is to check and “making sure” that everything is in full working order and as it is meant to be), he realises that the left rear tyre is a bit low in pressure, so urges me to find my way to a petrol station and add pressure. Ok, I really only intend to make a few photocopies, but of course the car needs to be kept in excellent working order, so I agree to do that.

Off we go, Moses and I, to Oyugis and, with only the above mentioned obstacles on the road, we arrive after the estimated 15 min. Great! And there is the petrol station. I branch off, tell the lady in waiting that I do not require petrol but air for the tyre, but “no, unfortunately we don’t have air”. But she reassures us that air is available at the petrol station at the other end of town, so again, off we go – in order to make a few photocopies – down the main street, over the various speed bumps which by the way can kill even the sturdiest shock absorbers, heading for the other petrol station. What great good fortune, they do have air – only that the device is broken right now and a crew of 8 randomly recruited Kenyan fundis (= craftsmen/ mechanics) are busying themselves to get it going again while a lorry is waiting with running engine for the same service that we require. Asking how long it might take to finish the repair, we are being given the SKA (= Standard Kenyan Answer) “10 minutes” which in reality can mean anything up to 2 hours approximately. Well, I say to Moses and the fundis, let’s go about making our few photocopies then and by the time we’re finished, the repair will have been done too and we can pump up the tyre. With that I swing myself into the driver’s seat to set off to the nearest computer and typesetting office where we hope to be able to make our few photocopies. Seatbelt on, but wait, shouts one of them, it’s done! Out of the car again and really, the thing looks as if it might be able to do the job. Let’s try. Well, the pipe is not quite long enough to reach the rear tyre, so let me get out of the parking slot and reverse the car so the tyre can be reached – not so easy as by this time the petrol station is swarming with vehicles and motorbikes, all driving this way and that way, beeping their horns at each other on order to get to where they want to get to. Eventually I do manage to reverse back into the slot, lorry still waiting there with engine running, but of course, I’m Mzungu, and Mzungu has to be served first … Wow, we get the required air into our tyre and off we go, after I’ve been secretly looking around a bit unsure as I am not clear about whether one needs to pay for this here or whether it’s free like at any petrol station in Europe. As nobddy seems to get seriously upset abut not having received any money, we drive off – to make those few photocopies …

Finally, we’ve reached the place of our dreams, the photocopying office, just across the road from the petrol station. And hurray, they do have power, and even more hurray, they say their photocopier is working, and even more hurray, they say they can also print a few pages which I need off a flash disk / USB stick. Great! So backpack off, open it, get papers out and hand them over to the kind clerk in attendance who immediately and efficiently goes about the business of producing those few photocopies while I open the document I need on their computer and click the print button. Zoom, zoom, zoom, the printer spits them out one after the other, phantastic! I am so elated that everything works out well that I don’t really notice that somehow the kind clerk has disappeared now with the last few of our photocopies undone. It’s about 10 min later that I emerge from my reverie, take those copies that are done out of the machine and start sorting and stapling them. However, page 6 of the script is still missing on all the 5 copies we intend to make and another letter that I want two times is also still awaiting processing. So what’s the matter, where has the kind clerk gone, what’s happening? Well, tells me the other kind person in attendance, they’ve run out of paper and the first kind guy has gone to get some from another office up the road. Ok, that should’t take too long, we tend to believe (It’s nearing 9 am now and we are expected at the schools for 9.30, but never mind, clocktime is not taken too serious here and generally you go when you are ready sort of) and wait patiently … and wait … and wait … and wait some more … until finally even I as a seasoned Kenya lover loose some of my patience and suggest to just pay for the services we have enjoyed, go off to the next office where they might have paper and finish off our few photocopies there. Well, says the kind clerk (the second one, the first is not yet back after about 25 min. or we wouldn’t be forced to take such drastic measures!) there’s some yellow paper around, could that not be used to copy the other doc? Ok, that can work, not for the missing page 6, but for the second document to be copied. Great. After a short time the yellow copies are done, but unfortunately clerk no. 1 is still not back with white paper. Pay now, that seems to be the only option and that’s what I do, to the great consternation of clerk no. 2 who reassures me using KSA (10 min.. remember?) that his colleague will be here in no time at all. Sorry, I’ve lost trust and do pay, pack up our papers, head for the exit and turn to Moses in order to ask where to go next to make our few photocopies Some commotion at the door: clerk no 1 is back and surprise, surprise, he’s carrying a brand new pack of white paper under his arm! Hurray, unpack our papers to make those remaining few photocopies! And finally, finally, we’re done – just going to make a few photocopies …

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