Go Slow

People often ask me what living in Accra is like. It’s an interesting question: on the one hand, it’s like living in any other big city – it’s busy, hectic, fun and frenetic, much like anywhere else. On the other hand, it’s not like anywhere else – often, as I’m going about my day-to-day business in the city, that wonderful quote from Lewis Carroll comes to mind.

Alice laughed. ‘There’s no use trying,’ she said, ‘one can’t believe impossible things.’

‘I daresay you haven’t had much practice,’ said the Queen. ‘When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’

Here’s a quick snapshot of an hour spent in the car. (And note, we only traveled half a mile. That ought to give you some idea of the pace of traffic. It’s slow. Real slow.) One of the wonderful things about sitting in traffic in Accra (which takes up pretty much half of one’s day), is that it eliminates completely the need to go shopping – shops come to you via the roadside markets. Brave entrepreneurs, taking advantage of the ‘go-slow’ speed of traffic, set up these mobile markets, wandering up and down the lanes between the cars selling everything from boiled sweets to, er, loo roll. A few months ago, I was offered a ‘tummy tuck, madam?’ A young man was holding aloft one of those weird metal and wire contraptions designed to give you a flatter stomach (à la Charles Atlas, remember him?) in a couple of days. I wondered why he’d selected me out of all the hundreds of potential commuters trapped in their cars. I don’t want to know.

Oh, and speaking of ‘going slow’, I had knee surgery on Thursday morning – a torn (now repaired) meniscus. Note to self: if you’re thinking of taking up jogging in your forties, please don’t.

Here I am, very much enjoying the post-op tranquilizer . . .

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