Thursday, June 4, 2009


As a blogger, it has quickly become apparent that, unless I am to rely on such mundane happenings as:  "Got up early.  Flossed.  Why do they only sell the waxed stuff?", 
I need to bring some means of jotting down the truly interesting things that happen (or that occur to me) during the day.  To that end I have taken to carrying a little red spiral notepad to record observations, musings and other "blog fodder".  It seems to be working well so far, but one runs into the following issue: lots of things which are noteworthy are not paragraph worthy.  And for that reason they are toted around in my right breast pocket, these poor orphan phrases, just waiting for the right paragraph, aside or excursus to come and rescue them.  No more.  Today - nothing especially interesting having happened - we'll open the door to these solitary verbal doodles, and let them make their way in the world.

Firstly, our photo today is of a possibly recognizable chap, sitting at the desk in his "office" which doubles as the ICU.  Fortunately it is rarely the case that we have any IC going on in the U, so the situation is not as problematic as one might suppose.  Short hair seems to work well here - and mine is rather longer than most folks here on base - so I've settled on the #4 on top, 1 1/2 along the back and sides.  Cool, easy to care for, and I think my bottle of Aussie Mega-shampoo will last the whole 6 months!

The Djiboutian National anthem:

The national anthem of Djibouti was adopted in 1977, the words written by Aden Elmi, the music by Abdi Robleh.  This is of course interesting as far as it goes,  but the melody itself is a source of some speculation for some of my colleagues and I.  It's a topic of conversation because every morning at 0800 the American and Djiboutian flags are hoisted over Camp Lemonnier, to the accompaniment of the national anthems.  As a courtesy to our host country the Djiboutian one is played first,  the music reverberating throughout the camp over the pole mounted public address system called - I love this - "Giant Voice".  I imagine a jolly green man with a microphone saying "Ho, ho, ho....".  Anyway...the music is quite western.  By that don't mean Occidental, or just that, I mean that it sounds sort of like Rogers and Hammerstein might have written it for Oklahoma, but decided that "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" just worked better.  I tried to find a good example on the net to direct you to, but all the ones I found seem to have been recorded with a synthesizer, and don't really give you the flavor of the full orchestral arrangement.  It's sort of catchy, for an anthem I mean.

When Djiboutian eyes are smiling...

Folks, Djibouti is sort of a solemn place.  Life here is harsh, inconceivably so for many thousands of people outside the concrete and earthen limits of our camp.  The people are mostly solemn as well.  To a large extent of course, for the lucky 500 or so Djiboutians who come to work here every day, this may reflect the discomfort of a sojourner in a foreign place.  I have noticed in my brief trips off base too, however that gravity of mien seems to be the prevalent expression of those on the streets and in the shops.  There have therefore been less then a handful of times when I have seen a Djiboutian really smile - where it goes all the way to the eyes.  How they are transformed!  The folk hereabout are slender, tall and elegant of form when age or long burden has not bowed them.  Complexions are a burnished ebony or like well roasted coffee.  When they smile, you get a glimpse of what life here in the ravaged Horn of Africa might have been, might be in a better world.  An elegant, ancient, austere vision. It is the sun blazing forth through the storm clouds - lending a transient supernal radiance to the darkened landscape, and vanishing as quickly as it came.  I almost gasp every time. 

I reckon I'll stop there  today.  Thanks to sister Moira for music suggestions - Ray Lamontagne is entirely new to me.  How exciting!  I see that Eels have released a new album too.  Although I first grew to like them - embarrassingly enough  - while listening to the Shrek soundtrack with Jack, they have been favorites for a while.  Thoughtful,  a bit cynical, by turns profane and reverential, and with a really interesting range of music.  There, I've set up as music critic!

French class was to start tomorrow, but it now appears as if the Navy's Tuition assistance program won't pay for me to do it (odd as they paid for Italian class in Sicily), and I'm not sure I want to pony up the nearly $1000 dollars that University of Maryland wants to charge.  Maybe I'll stick with Rosetta Stone, and the Coffee Break French podcast.

In any event, au revoir mes amis.  A la prochaine!

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