Last week, South Carolina experienced the worst flooding is has seen in 1,000 years. World Mom, Sophia, shares her search for clean water after the storm last week…
Today the National Guard had two posts at which troopers were giving out clean water bottles by the case. As I prepared to go get some of this water, I thought of the safest, most effective and expeditious way of getting through the line of people waiting.
Would there be a truck at which troopers would be handing out the cases? Would there just be a group of us standing there with no adhered-to order, or would there be a line? How could I carry more than one case back to my car? I surely couldn’t get to the front of the line (or group) more than once… Maybe I should take the stroller, and put as many cases of water on it as I could take. (more…)
“Hey bro, vipi? How much for these shoes?” I ask the second-hand market vendor.
“Ah! Those, for you, those are $30 U.S.dollars,” he responds with a tone indicating that he’s giving me a deal. He didn’t know I was Tanzanian, maybe because I hadn’t yet spoken more than a few words in Kiswahili. Words that any foreigner who cared to find out would have known.
“$30?! I can get a new pair of shoes in the U.S. for that amount!” I say in return, flabbergasted by the price this man just gave me.
After a few minutes of haggling, going back and forth about the quality of the shoes, and his realization of my nationality, we do not close the sale of these shoes, but commence having a very important conversation about the poverty of Africa.
I will call this man Peter, as I do not recall his name.
As I talked down the price of the shoes, Peter said things like, “You people have money!” and “Come on, you can pay this amount easily.”
When Peter and I started talking (immediately after I decided not to purchase the shoes), I asked him his reasons behind hiking prices up so high for foreigners. He simply said, “Because we are poor here in Tanzania, and in Africa, so I have to try to earn money some way, and you guests have the money.” (more…)
Decades ago, as I moved around Manhattan from cheap apartment to cheap apartment, most of my stuff fit into “New York luggage:” big black Hefty garbage bags. Now that I’ve acquired children, however, and all their junk precious possessions, the New York luggage has been retired. Now I have to hire professionals, like the team of four guys who hauled our furniture and approximately eighty gazillion boxes into long-term storage when we moved from New York to Abu Dhabi two years ago. It took us more than three days to finish that move—I’m sure those movers still have a dart board with our apartment number at its center.
That move almost killed me—and I’m not even including the hours we spent packing and re-packing the twelve suitcases we were lugging to Abu Dhabi, in a desperate attempt to make sure that no one suitcase went over the weight limit for checked bags.
So after that move, moving from one neighborhood in Abu Dhabi to another was a piece of cake: on moving day, a squad of ten men showed up armed with huge rolls of bubble wrap and cardboard; they fanned out across our apartment and hey presto! the contents of our apartment vanished in a few days.
When we moved from New York, I don’t remember thinking much about the difference between my life and the lives of the men putting our boxes in the truck. At the risk of generalizing, I assumed that I had more education than they did, and that my children probably went to “better” public schools than theirs did (if even they had kids). I mean, I know I’m generalizing here—and maybe the movers were PhD candidates in philosophy out to make an extra buck, but that seems like a stretch. (more…)
This is a gold ATM machine: you can purchase gold in any amount. The machine is in the mall, near a Starbucks.
That’s been a question I’m asked a lot lately. It’s a question I was almost never asked when we lived in Manhattan, even though it’s home to god knows how many hedge-fund gazillionaires.
When we moved to Abu Dhabi in August, I prepared myself for all kinds of changes–food, customs, weather, schools, jobs–all the big stuff. But it never occurred to me that, of course, here in the land of Gulf petrodollars and expat tax-free paychecks, my kids would be exposed to the trappings of wealth in a way they’d never seen before.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like they were walking barefoot in the snow to some rat-infested public school in outer Bushwick where there weren’t enough math books to go around. Both boys went to public elementary schools, true, but one was in a lovely little neighborhood in Gramercy Park (a very affluent ‘hood) and the other went to a gifted-and-talented school that wasn’t very fancy on the outside but was delivering a kick-ass education inside (albeit in over-crowded classrooms with underpaid teachers).
We have friends with weekend houses and beach houses; friends who take great vacations and explore the world, but my kids don’t really see those things as signs of money—in part, I guess, because they’re still young and don’t quite understand what it takes to support two households, or truck a family of six to Egypt for the winter holidays.
I wasn’t prepared, myself, for the way that wealth is on display here: that the Porsche Cayenne is basically the Chrysler mini-van of the Gulf; (more…)