Monday, April 02, 2012

Parties and Customer Service

Denise and I went to a rooftop party Saturday night in town. I was reluctant to go, but she wanted me to come so she could rub in my face a little bit that she won our month-long bet. The bet? That she wouldn't be able to resist dating a single man during the month of March. I was sure she'd lose - but alas! she's got will-power. So she was on the prowl on Saturday, and now I owe her a very nice dinner.

Well, rooftop party is a bit of a misnomer. We were on top of a building, yes...but it was an indoor parking garage. The party attendants looked in dismay up towards the tower next to the parking lot upon arrival. We were told a rooftop party, not a parking lot party. But I guess it was for the best, because the fog was thick and the top of the Kigali City Tower was hidden between misty clouds and hazy lights. Their drinks were expensive and yet cheap, if you know what I mean. But, TIA.

Most of the party-goers seemed to be Rwandan...but a hell of a lot of expats were there, too. And, you know how it is...the expats clump together like a swarm of...well, something. So I found myself hanging out and chatting with a few people from the UK, some Americans, someone from Ireland cum South Africa, and so on. The conversations were good, interesting, and intelligent, but I wouldn't consider trade economics my normal conversation piece over drinks in a club atmosphere.

The music was pretty hilarious. Some of it was timely, but honestly most of it was either dated or not appropriate for a party atmosphere at all. That is, unless you're interested in awkward talking with a beer in your hand. I was hanging out with a man I work with at the school, Ian. He's fun, and we joke together, which is great - someone has my sense of humor! As we joked about something, Michael Jackson's "Will You Be There" song came blaring on the speakers. We pumped our fists and got very 1990s on the dance floor. And we discussed how fitting it would be to climb up Mount Kenya with this song as the theme of the hike, to finally get to the top, raise our fists, and a whale come shooting out from nowhere over the precipice. What do you think? Free Willy, anyone?

Well, Denise was not amused by the interesting music choice. So we left early and ended up at another bar, called Downtown Bar. There, we met up with a man she's fancied since our starting time here, and things worked out quite well. I left them alone to go to bed. I was thanked by him the next morning.

I've wondered about if I could compare Kigali to a city atmosphere in the US. I had to think about it. It's certainly no NYC. And it's not quite DC. But I think I've found it! Albany. That's all I have to say about that.

Sunday was rain and eating food with poorer students that Denise and Maxine sponsor around Rwanda. It was interesting, and they were more curious about things than excited. They knew how to work iPhones upon touching them. How does that work, exactly? I genuinely don't know.

Anyways, I have a beef to pick with people here in the service industry. They don't understand the word "consistency", and it's evident in their idea of food preparation. Now, explain to me how this good restaurant in town thinks they can charge the same cost for Denise and my burger when mine is about the size of a sirloin tip and hers is the size of a whopper? I don't know, but it is not uncommon here. I know fully well that I'm starting to sound petty, but in a country where they are working their butts off to improve their tourism industry, they have a lot to work on. So my theme in class today has been consistency. Everyone must understand! No more medallion-sized beef!

Customer Service here...I could write an entire novel about what needs to happen. I haven't had internet for a few days because Tigo has, oops!, communication errors. Thanks, that's a lot of money I can't use. I heard a man in their home office ripping them a new one in Kinyrwandan about how crappy their service has been, and how he plans on leaving for another company right away. I mean, he was MAD. You see? It's not just the pampered expat with issues here!

I bought a bunch of souvenirs!!! Stuff for my family and a few things for myself! I was the queen of bargaining yesterday. I bought I can't tell you how much stuff, for about $50. Considering it would be worth probably more like $200 in the US, I'm contented. The man was swallowing back hard to accept my low bargaining prices, but I told him it was good business, and besides - Rwandans pay a lot less than expats, I'm sure. I'm so proud of myself.

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