by Lorien E. Menhennett
One of the things I love about New York City is that you can get just about anything delivered, with minimal or no extra charge. Groceries, alcohol, and take-out food of every ethnicity you can imagine are standard fare. I take advantage of the grocery services the most often, because I hate grocery shopping. I’d much rather someone else do it for me. I happily tack on a nice tip since they carry all my bags and boxes up the stairs to my fourth-floor walk-up apartment. (No elevator.)
To my surprise, there is grocery delivery here in Uganda, too.
Lately, I’ve gotten into craft beer. I’m pretty sure they don’t have IPAs here, but lager, yes. I’d run out of the Nile (a popular beer here) that we’d gotten in Kampala. I was told that Sandra, the housekeeper where I’m staying, could have beer brought to the guesthouse. I gave her 24,000 shillings (less than $7 USD), and about 30 minutes later, there was a guy ringing the bell at our front gate, carrying a box containing six bottles of Club (another popular Ugandan beer).
A couple of days later, I discovered we’d run out of milk. I prefer half and half for my coffee, but milk will do. I texted Sandra to bring some when she came to make lunch for us. She texted back that she’d send someone with it now. In less than 10 minutes, there was a man at the front door, carrying a little black plastic sack with two pouches of pasteurized milk inside.
Talk about service.
I’m sorry, but I just felt the need to share with you how this post came off to me (random person who has clicked on your link). You have described how poor this setting is, then you go on to boast that you are able to pay someone less than 7 USD to fetch you things? Is it a surprise that people with little resources will accept your small amount of money for a menial task? Further, you go on to criticize everything they brought you as not being up to your New York standards. This man brought you fresh raw grass fed organic whole milk, hand milked, as soon as you requested it yet you say you would prefer half and half for your coffee ritual… It shocked me to read a Westerner in the year 2018 going to a third world country and gloating ‘Talk about service’ about the native people who are ‘serving’ in such jobs just to get money to get by in their exploitative conditions… with no sense of irony.
I don’t mean to offend and I can understand how from a certain perspective you may have intended to write this as an appreciation of what you have when you go to Uganda. I hope you can at least take the time to include some reflection on why you have these things, and why a reader (from a formerly colonized country) may have found the tone hurtful.
Thank you for your comment. I am always interested to hear what other people think about what I have written.
I’m sorry I offended you, or anyone else. I certainly didn’t intend to.
This post was meant to be light and humorous, and merely to provide a window into what it is like for me to be here. It was not meant to criticize the milk instead of half and half, etc. Giving the price of what I paid, again, was meant to describe, not to “boast,” as you put it. And yes, I was impressed with the service here. My attitude here is not one of “gloat[ing],” but of gratitude.
That said, I can see how you, coming from your own background, might have interpreted my words differently. Again, they were not intended to wound.
One of the things I have learned from being here is that I (and other people from the United States) have misconceptions about this country, and vice versa. One purpose of my blog posts is to narrate my experiences here for people who will never visit this beautiful country, or even this continent. While I am here, I am learning about the culture, and the people, and they are also learning about me, and what my life is like. I think this exchange is essential for everyone. And I do my best to be respectful in what I say.
I have one comment about your comment. I write about my experiences and share my opinions using my real name and identity. You have commented under the user name “Anonymous.” Writing publicly means taking a risk that people will disagree with you. As a former journalist, I believe this kind of dialogue about such disagreements is an important part of democracy. I also believe, however, that it should be done honestly, not covertly, unless there is a truly good reason for it.
Thanks for giving us a glimpse into Uganda through your experiences! Amazing how things can be different, yet in many ways the same! My only wish would be that I were experiencing things first hand with you! Thanks for the “next best thing”!
You’re welcome! Wish you could be here with me this morning too, sipping cups of coffee sweetened with this Ugandan milk, or later this evening chatting over bottles Club beer. But since you’re (hopefully) asleep as I write this, maybe you can dream about it! 🙂