Wednesday, September 24, 2008

things are not so different in Botswana

One of my favorite book series is The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency
by Alexander McCall Smith.
I know that Alexander McCall Smith is a man.
I have seen his picture on the back of the book.
But the man has spent some time with ladies. He knows how they think.
This is the hallmark of a good writer. His heroine's voice rings true.
Precious Ramotswe is a traditionally built lady.
Her tiny white van lists heavily towards the driver's side.
Funded by an inheritance from her beloved late daddy, she starts a detective agency,
solving the mystery of everyday life in Botswana.
Missing cattle. Wayward boyfriends. Stolen pumpkins.
And I love her. I really do.
I know she is not real but I would love to sit down under a mopane tree
and share a cup of bush tea with her. I thought you might enjoy a little passage
from book 7, Blue Shoes and Happiness.

She put the paper aside and marshalled her thoughts. It was all very well sitting on her veranda thinking about the problems of others, but it was getting late in the afternoon and there were things to do. In the kitchen at the back of the house there was a packet of green beans that needed to washed and chopped. There was a pumpkin that was not going to cook itself. There were onions to be put in a pan of boiling water and cooked until soft. That was part of being a woman, she thought; one never reached the end.

Even if one could sit down and drink a cup of bush tea, or even two cups, one always knew that at the end of the tea somebody was waiting for something. Children or men were waiting to be fed; a dirty floor cried out to be washed; a crumpled skirt called for the iron. And so it would continue. Tea was just a temporary solution to the cares of the world, although it certainly helped. Perhaps she should write and tell Aunty Emang that. Most problems could be diminished by the drinking of tea and the thinking through of things that coud be done while tea was being drunk. And even if that did not solve problems, at least it could put them off for a little while, which we sometimes needed to do, we really did.

So if by chance there are some problems that need pondering or
a dirty floor that needs putting off, I'm down with Precious.
You deserve a cup of tea, tsgs, you really do.
And don't forget the warm scone to go with the tea.
Because that would be wrong.

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EMB* said...

I'm so excited about this book! I'm leaving on Friday for a mission trip to Kenya and have been looking for another good book to read. Thanks for the suggestion!

Erica said...

I'm all over this advice!

Kim said...

I love the #1 Lady Detective books! As does the hubby. He's not a fan of the fiction, except for these and the Mitford series by Jan Karon.

Smith does such a fabulous job of making you FEEL you're in Africa, we always get a little homesick for Uganda while reading them.

Mama Daisy, the lady who helped me in the house, taught me everything I know about bush etiquette. One of the lessons concerned how to serve tea: For Africans I was to fill the cup to the tippy top but not for the mzungus (whites). The reason being that our noses are long and pointy and would dip into the tea. Which is most unseemly.

susanna said...

I feel sure that my nose would most definitely dip into the tea!
If I ever to go to Africa you'll have to fill me in on all the other bush etiquette pointers. :) Sue

Meg said...

I love that series, and as I sit here reading and commenting on your blog, I have a pot on to make bush tea. Yay for No. 1 Ladies!