Lemurs and circumcision

So…I am still fine. I have been travelling for almost two weeks and actually had a blast. Back in Toliara we had an intense period of writing and doing review, that is basically all I have done the last three days. My mind is a bit empty, right now, but I really want to share my experiences. I have decided to skip the part of the lemurs, oh, well, I will give you a short summary:

I have held, petted and named a mouse lemur. I named it Sven, because they were looking for male names and wanted one with a Nordic influence and that was the first name I came up with. A mouse lemur is really really tiny and has enormous eyes (and balls, in case anyone wants to know)…I know you have all seen the film Madagascar, it is the type that starts to cry all the times, basically. I think. We also went for long walks in the rain forest and made a couple of interviews. Besides that, we shared camp site with a bunch of American undergraduates and had loud company for a couple of days.

So, the fun part though was the circumcision ceremonies in Manajary. It is called Sambatra and only takes place every seventh year. People travel from all over Mad to be here, either to participate or to celebrate. You can buy T-shirts, lambas and hats with this years motives on. It has really become more and more commercial, but the ceremonies in itself are really still authentic; in the parade only people dressed rightly and belonging to a tranobe were allowed, leaving many of the white people far away from what was going on (more about that below). It would be too hard to go into every single detail, but basically celebrations are a month, culminating in 24h partying the last week. The boys are circumcised during this week; they are all between 0 and 10 years old. They are dressed in red with a red hat, the kings colour. They were a cord around their waist for protection against evil spirits.

The mother and grandmothers dance everyday during the last week around the tranobe (kings house/circumcision house). They start early in the morning and most of them are already drunk then. The men go to the forest and chop down sacred tree, transport them on a boat to the village and then carry them on their shoulder x laps around the tranobe. The next day they craft wooden birds and paint them and tie them to the house.

The most fun part was the young men bringing the holy water to the house, disguised as attackers and actually throwing sticks at the defenders (the fathers and uncles of the circumcised boys). Arif and Brett got caught in the middle and were hit by sharp bamboo sticks, not really a pleasant experience. And these were not the only casualties, other men got injured as well (we women were kept out of the way).

All the above mentioned parts took place basically everyday at one of the ten tranobes in the village. The final was last Friday, when the parade on the beach took place. People gather in their tranobe to walk along the beach to the edge and get the benediction, whatever that might be in English. This walk is done in memory of the ancestors who came from the Arabic land. Since it was a long journey, we had to rest and sat down in the sand every few minutes. All the time singing of courses, cheering for the circumcised boys and celebrating the journey.

I say we, because me and Kate, an Australian girl we met, were permitted to participate. Under certain conditions though: we had to have our hair braided, had to were a non-open lamba (=sarong), needed a hat, a non-black T-shirt that covered out shoulders and were not allowed to wear any shoes. At the last thing I went uh-uh, the beach is basically infected with parasites and glass, but I figured that among all the thousands of people walking along the beach, the parasites would not choose my humble feet. To save time and money, Kate and I bought the same fabric for the lamba and had a local woman make s skirt. We figured it would be strange being in the same green colour, but it turned out to be a lucky thing: Upon arrival at “our” tranobe we met three older women who had the same fabric too – and we just started laughing and ended up holding hands with these women most of the walk. Now that was a fun experience.

Anyhow, we made it to the edge of the beach. There we were all sprinkled by sea water and had to wash our face, neck, hands, legs and feet in the sea too. When everyone was done, sudden cheering erupted and we walked home in a quick pace, singing different songs.
Much of the symbolism is still unclear to me, but I will do some serious research when I get home. There were lots of photographers and film crew around, mostly French people, so there is bound to be some good info available soon.

Sorry, but that is about it for my brain. I will now go an buy a yoghurt, need a treat, and then reveal to Brett that his USB has a virus…

Cheers,
Ulrike

Old updates

750575_tropical_island.jpgI uploaded all the old emails my dear sister wrote during her first 1 1/2 month in Madagascar. You can find them all under the category Madagascar.

All of them are uploaded at there original dates, so if anyone wants to read them from the start that should be easily possible. The first one can be found at the bottom of this page

All future updates from her will be on the category page as well.

/Karsten

Shout out from Mad

Wow, I must say, good job Little Brother! This page is even accessible from a developing country (not sure how long I have internet connection though…).

I cant really think of any funny story right now, just wanted to say that I am part of this too…probably giving comments from my whereabouts, which currently is Toliara, Madagascar. We have all the sun you dont have back in Sweden, trust me, my tan is lovely.

Just returned from an unpermuitted holiday on the east coast; the circumcision festival over there only takes place every seventh year and lets face it, I never miss an opportunity to dance. And malgach boys know how to dance! I will get you the facts later, right now I will just say that I stayed a couple of night in a tent and participated in the cleansing ritual, all traditional style and even attending a Jerry Marcoss concert. He is THE star right now in Mad and will be touring France soon, so keep a watch out there.

Dinner time, we are going for a pizza treat, our third night in a row!

Skatteverket

90371_accounting_7.jpgVar på “utbildning” hos skatteverket idag. Eller kanske man ska säga föreläsning. Såg att de gjorde reklam för dessa när jag var och besökte dem i veckan, och det visade sig att de gör flera olika utbildningar.

Den jag var på var den första i ledet, som handlar om just eget företagande. Det finns även en fortsättning som riktar sig till personer som nylingen startat upp företag, men redan har lite erfarenhet med det. Sen finns det också en om moms vid gränshandel, och en om bokföring, om jag förstod det rätt.

Måste säga att jag blev imponerad. Föreläsaren var rolig och man förstod det mesta, samtidigt som det var en trevlig och öppen atmosfär. Lite bättre än när man besöker eller prata med dem i telefon. Det hela varade i 3 timmar, och jag ska lätt se till att gå på alla sådana som finns. Informativt och bra, skatter är en sädan sak man kan för lite om för ens eget bästa.

J & K målerifirman – lite billigare, lite sämre

Hjälpte idag Jorge att tapetsera och måla om sin lägenhet. Efter att vi pratat om det under en väldig lång tid. Det hela var väldigt trevligt, och jag kan lätt tänka mig göra något sådant oftare. Har alltid haft drömmen att syssla med ‘skapande’ arbete, som att jobba som byggare. Vem vet, kanske en vacker dag.

Tills dess kan man kontakta mig eller Jorge om man är intresserad av vår ‘expertis’. Vi har en alternativ slogan också: – som svartarbete, fast vitt.

Så det så.

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Är vi inte snygga? Till och med med olikfärgade arbetskepsar!

Projektet ‘öka antalet danska studenter’ är igång

Som det ofta gör så händer det saker i livet. Jag har nyligen fått klartecken att det projekt angående närvaron av danska studenter på Campus, som jag varit involverad de senaste tiden, kommer att bli av. Detta innebär en relativ hektisk period framför mig nu, men också en väldig lärorik.

Projektet går i korthet ut på att göra Campus och Lunds Universitet mera synligt i Danmark, framförallt för unga danskar. I dagsläget är situationen sådan att den kan förbättras, och ett ökat antal personer som läser över gränserna tror jag hade främjat integrationen. I praktiken kommer arbetet att innebära att jag fördjupar mig i den danska samhällstrukturen, och i hur det är att vara gymnasielev på andra sidan sundet.

Det är planerat omkring 570 arbetstimmar i projektet, som sträcker sig ända till september. Just detta ska bli intressant att uppleva, hur det blir att driva projekt som är intensivt ibland och väldigt lungt vid andra tidpunkter. Ska nog bli en bra erfarenhet.

Jag har dock fortfarande inte fått reda på huvudfrågan, ifall integration är bra eller inte, men jag förutsätter att den är bra i detta fall. Man verkar ofta eftersträva integration, så jag hoppas detta bygger på erfarenheten att det leder till det bättre. Skulle någon ha synpunkter på detta tar jag dock gärna emot tips. På allvar.

En början…

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Efter några månaders lång diskussion om detta är nu sidan deppert.se igång! Med detta kommer familjen Deppert att göra nya framsteg i mänsklighetens tecken och skapa underverk!

Sidan är dock fortfarande under uppbyggnad, så allt funkar inte riktigt som det är tänkt än. Men det kommer så småningom.

Trevligt att du hittat hit och läst detta!

Insects and fishing

I have come to realise that this has become some kind of weekly ritual, sending you all an email. Well, we’ll just have to see how long I can find stuff to write about. I have been away 8 weeks now, 1/3 of my stay, and I am bound to run out of material at some point…but not quite yet.

Like, for instance, last week I had the sensational feeling of having a gecko running on my arm…trust me, that was so unexpected that I screamed like a girl (and that is not like me)(unless I see a spider), waved my arm, got Kristina fired up who thought I would be eaten alive by a cockroach or worse and even made Brett and Arif come in and wonder what was going on. And geckos are usually lovely little creatures, but maybe not when they cling to you underarm like a wet…something. Then again, later that day I had a bad cockroach experience (cockroach flying into my pizza and then heading for me and landing in my hair) and that kind of took the edge of the gecko…

Anyhow, I survived another week in the house. We are now basically bat and rat free, just have occasional cockroach invasions. Wednesday night we had 30-40 cockroaches in Kris and my room, I am not kidding you, and even the peaceful animal lover in me went on a killing spree. We bombed the house and probably some parts of our own lungs, but that was just horrible.

But enough of creeping insect: I have done my first participative observation for my master thesis. As it is all going to be about fish and fisher folk, I went fishing with the mayor’s sons Thursday morning. We left when the first strokes of sun hit the sea, which was quite idyllic, in a dugout canoe on the totally quite sea. The fisher folk fleet was 40 pirogues strong and we all went for sardines and some kind of bigger fish (lamantsa in Malagasy). It took us about an hour to sail to the spot, anchor up, get the gear ready etc. Theses people are amazing sailors; they could steer these little wooden boats so perfectly without much help. The two boys, who didn’t speak any French and of course no English either, then handed me a line and two hooks and a handful of small shrimp (by small I mean the size they are in Sweden) and well…looked at me and started to laugh. I guess I must have looked really silly. The vegetarian in me revolted for a bit, but then I thought I might as well do some good while I sit on their boat for free…I am probably the worst shrimp peeler/stick it on the hook ever and probably not even good at fishing. The boys, I am ashamed that I forgot their names, had a good laugh, as had all the other who were in hearing distance (=all)…and did take pity in me eventually and helped me out. I must have worked, because I did catch one sardine!! With a little help, I admit, but still. We must have been out for about six hours or so, but in the end we only had seven fish altogether and no lamantsa; one of the other boats got lucky so I could at least see one. Apparently, the fish is really scarce and they are no big sardines anymore, and that is really destructive for the whole fish stock and the biodiversity. Good for my thesis, bad for the environment and the people. On the way home we raced each other and our boat was winning until we hit a sandbank…we got really splashed by the warm seawater but this was really fun!

Anyhow, we are on our way to Tana. We got notice last week that our boss in Tana wanted to see us and there was not much else to do. We are going by car again, this time we’ll be 7 people and five seats including the driver, but it will hopefully be a lot of fun. We will stop overnight on the way and that is going to be great, having some real new input. I am not that keen on seeing Tana again, my lungs didn’t really like that polluted air, but it will be nice to go on a small ride for a while. I am not wary of the area here yet, I don’t feel like I have don’t much here yet, but you always welcome the any change. It is like what Arif said about food: If you see food, you eat, because you don’t know when you’ll have some the next time. That goes for basically every kind of entertainment. We’ll just see what the big city will look like this time. And hopefully will the voyage not be too stressful, just getting to know a couple of days in advacne that we are off to Tana was stressful enough for some time.

I hope that you are all fine back home an thanks for your mails, they really cheer me up !