So in the time since I’ve last blogged, I have spent a week in Ethiopia, decided to “run” a half-marathon with only two week’s training (no Mom, I don’t want to hear about how bad of an idea that is) and gotten a new co-worker. Perhaps a sign I ought to be upping back the frequency.
Before diving into all of these shenanigans though, I’m going to share an assessment that a friend of mine had about living in developing countries, and the appropriate perspective to apply to it. He is originally from India, and was talking about all the stress that people from developed countries have when things don’t work, whether it’s internet or plumbing or traffic. There seems to be this anxiety, this “WHY IS THIS HAPPENING TO ME??” But as someone from India, that’s not the mindset he has. His is instead one of, “This item does not work.” It is just a simple fact. Like the fact that the sky is blue. It’s simply a positive (rather than normative) statement.
Furthermore, he argued that it’s so much easier to solve problems in developing countries. Labor is certainly not a scarce resource in most of Sub-Saharan Africa. Accordingly, if you are friendly, you are likely to be able to find someone who will be very willing to commit time to trying to solve the problem. Rather than pay $100 for someone to come and look at your computer for an hour, someone will be happy to do it for a fraction of the cost.
I’m not sure how I feel about the last bit. I’m not sure low wages are something that make me incredibly happy, though there is something to be said about paying a reasonable price for work, rather than an enormous, often seemingly egregious price. However, the question of whether I don’t have to pay a lot for services is actually a good thing is a very long question without a clear answer.
However, I will definitely try to adopt the point about dealing with things not working going forward. Whether it’s slow internet or my burner that can’t steam rice or the dirt road where I live that trashes my shoes, it shouldn’t be something that is a cause of stress. I should talk and think about those things in descriptive terms rather than normative ones, and when faced with a challenge, ought to simply assess whether or not there’s a workable solution, rather than stress over the same question.