Whenever I come to write another blog, it amazes me at how long it is since my last one… Time flies here, and yet also goes slowly…. I am frustrated at the pace at which some things are progressing. A lot of this is due to the fact that school exams have just taken place, so schools have obviously been busy. But some of it is just about the pace that life moves at. It’s a good lesson for me to decide when to push, and when to be patient –
patience is not my forté. That all said, plans are in motion to get some sort of corporate rowing started, and this Saturday we are holding an Open Day, to allow curious locals to come and along and see what it’s all about, without committing to anything. Along with face-painting, games and prizes, fingers crossed we get a good turn out…
Despite the school exams, we have managed to get a new school involved, in fact I’m about to go and coach them in a few minutes… They seem really keen, and conscientious. I’m still working on the other schools on this chain of islands, hopefully another will be starting
in a couple of weeks. Frustratingly though, the headteacher of the nearest school doesn’t think that rowing is a sport suitable for girls… What then does she think of me I wonder…
Maldivian national TV came to film a piece about us last week, although this has yet to be aired… Patience Imogen, patience…. If and when it does go out though, I think this is a big step forward for rowing here, as it has long been seen as something rather inferior. If it can be given even half the respect of swimming or football, then I think the future of the project is a lot brighter.
It is the people that remain the key to my feeling settled here. Things like going off to a nearby picnic last weekend with a bunch of folk, and truly enjoying myself, makes me feel like I am living here, not just “staying” here. I particularly want to mention Zadi. She’s the wife of the president of the rowing association here, and she has become my “feeder”. I go round and learn how to cook Maldivian food… and then eat it. Anyone who has lived with/ eaten with/ been in the vicinity of food with me, will know how happy this makes me. And it is not unusual that I will get a knock at the door in the evening, to see Zadi with a parcel of food for me!, followed by a coffee and a nibble and a chat about the day. But it’s not just the fact that she feeds me that makes me happy (I realise I sound like I’m living up to my nickname once given to me by a flatmate, of “OTB”… standing for Obesity Time-Bomb… apparently, I, er, eat a lot….). It’s the way that she has taken me in to her home, and made me feel welcome, that I can drop around anytime, that means so much to me. That her mother who doesn’t speak any english but who is usually there in the kitchen, communicates with me in that way that two people do when they speak no common language, and who often forces some bananas or chapattis into my hand as I am leaving… That Zadi’s two daughters tell me about what they’ve been up to at school or what their friends did and said, so that I feel like I’m part of the family.
I am taken aback by the kindness she has shown me, and feel so undeserving of it. I am sure that my experience here in Addu would be so different if it weren’t for her. When I say thank you she scolds me and says she doesn’t expect thanks or anything in return. But it’s that fact, that she expects nothing, not even a word of thanks, that makes what she does so kind. So here it is Zadi, for all the world to see: THANK YOU!!