For Tom Reynolds, the NHS’ most prominent paramedic blogger, the London where he works is a city of ghosts: every street tells a story of a patient he has looked after there.
For me, today has been the inverse. Places remind me of other places. It’s as if the immediate future of returning home makes me focus on the past.
The bus journey reminds me of a taxi journey in Togo last year, where a child needed to breastfeed. The baby’s bottom was placed on my right leg and the mother’s breast flopped onto my chest. The baby was content and I hardly minded.
Perhaps it’s the cramped nature of this journey that reminds me. Four of us sit on two seats and a fold-down bench in the matatu (taxi-bus).
This would be fine if all three seats were one section, but they’re not. So it’s an edge-of-seat journey: not because of the driving itself, but rather as my spine and the cleft between my buttocks are aligned uncomfortably with the metal edge of the seat, my other leg and arm dangling in space.
I try and remember whether driving on the left in Britain felt similar to driving on the left in Kenya, as if the identical process is somehow different. Last night I found myself googling pictures of Oxford. And now I’ve got Closer by the Chainsmokers stuck in my head. The memory is a strange thing.
I also remember conversations: Ramzy and I discussing the benefits and pitfalls of development, and how to do it right, in Cape Coast last year, and the extent to which my discussions with Patrick and Kathleen in Kigali echoed it.
I remember Ramzy’s encouragement in relation to the Kenyan journalist I met yesterday with an MSc in conflict management. She encouraged me to find development jobs.
I’m struck by how eleven years ago, when I volunteered, I felt so sure of my usefulness, yet I’m not sure (looking back) that I was all that useful at all. Now, it’s as if I’m too cautious about getting involved yet many Africans are encouraging me.
Somehow it’ll all work out. Life has a habit of doing that. And hey, I guess it’s a first world problem: ‘I’ve got enough food, clean water, a car and a mortgage – but, am I fulfilled?’ Not exactly super-crucial, is it?
In the meantime, the journalist filmed me for a feature for CCTV. This is not me caught red handed committing a crime. CCTV stands for China Africa Television. Which is intriguing, because the letters don’t stand for the words.
So, my fifteen minutes of fame (or, more like two to be honest) will be broadcast via satellite across the world in a few days.
Part of it promises to be a rather decent piece on tourism and development in areas of poverty and conflict. I’m asked how I found out about Turkana, whether I had any misgivings about travelling to the region, and how much I’ve enjoyed my trip.
They also filmed me strolling along the beach, and swimming. It’s not quite the Daniel-Craig-Does-James-Bond moment I might have hoped for: I’m not convinced celebrity fame will result from diving sweaty, sunburned, and fully clothed into a shallow lake, emerging moments later with a ragged look and a milk-bottle complexion.
The journo’s agreed to send me the clip, I’ll post it here when it happens.
UPDATE: March 2017 – I’ve got it – it’s here: https://youtu.be/L2zRVkQZZqk