Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arrival in Mali

We didn’t know anything about Mali before we decided to come here. We met our friend Shilpa’s friend Coumba at one of Austin’s NYC shows in July. Coumba manages Ashoka’s programming in West Africa and just happened to be coming through NYC. We were telling her about our plans to do some purposeful travel and she grinned, “You should come to West Africa, and you could help some of our Ashoka Fellows.” And here we are.

So far I have resisted the impulse to compare the places we’re going to places we’ve been, but everywhere I look in Mali I can’t help but think of India. Not so much Bombay and Delhi but the next tier of cities. Everything from the streets, the markets, the vehicles, the houses, the tube lights, the family structures, the climate. I like it here. It feels like home.

Our hosts Coumba and Tidiane are extremely, extremely generous and gracious. We’ve turned up in Bamako two weeks before their wedding and they’ve shared their charming home, their delectable cooking, and their lovely extended family with us. We are very fortunate to be able to experience Mali this way.

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