Monday, March 16, 2009

One funeral, a party and a problematic doctor’s visit

My weekend was busy with worrisome things. Saturday morning we were up before sunrise to attend the funeral for the mother to one of my husband’s friends. For people not from Botswana, perhaps I can take this opportunity to explain a bit about funerals in Botswana.

It is very important to attend funerals in Botswana, even of people you don’t know. I didn’t know this woman, though of course I know the son. The big issue is that if you don’t attend funerals, no one will attend yours. This is problematic as there is a lot of work involved in burying someone here. Cooking starts immediately as people will be camped at the house for some time, at least a week before usually. Also digging the grave and burying are done by people at the funeral. Singing and praying which is done every evening the week before, all night the night before, and then at the funeral is done by the people in attendance. If the family was left alone to do it all, they’d never manage. You also need people to speak at the funeral and to act as the MC.

At the funeral we attended, they spoke of the deceased’s short temper and how she was big on advising people the correct way to do most things- even shopping. Apparently people in the know only purchase food and clothes from Woolworth’s. I didn’t know that.

Later the same day we went to a party at my husband’s old school. It was a farewell party for him, the former headmaster. Because of strange politics at the school, the party only had a certain group of teachers who, to put it in a politically correct way, were ‘common visitors to the headmaster’s office’. That made things a bit awkward for the headmaster and his wife, though after a few drinks he said sagely, “Alcohol makes boring parties better”. And so it did.

In between the funeral and the party, we stopped by the doctor’s office to have my husband’s mouth looked at. While there, I decided to ask the doctor about my ‘trumpet arm’. Since I’ve been practicing trumpet more, my whole left arm has gone funny. It's painful and weak and sometimes numb. He assured me it had nothing to do with the trumpet and was connected to my neck and spine. He went on to explain about a patient who had to spend an extraordinary amount of money (enough to buy two quite nice houses) to get his neck sorted out “or else he would have been paralyzed”. That was not very comforting. It was so much better thinking it was caused by my trumpet. I wish I would have never asked.


Elizabeth Bradley said...

Enjoyed learning about funerals in Botswana. The arm thing has me concerned. Doesn't sound good.

Helen Ginger said...

So interesting to learn about funerals in Botswana. Never knew that! Hope your non-trumpet arm is getting better.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of the community funeral as well as the quirky twist that if you don't attend theirs, they won't attend yours.

I wonder if trumpet arm is like guitar arm. When I started playing guitar many years ago I developed a lot of pain in my left arm. It was all due to the way I was holding the guitar. One side was experiencing more strain than the other. There are some basic flexibility exercises like arm extensions you can do which really help. There also might be a better way you can hold the trumpet. Can you check with your teacher? Sometimes it can come down to something simple like hand placement. Hope it feels better soon.

Lauri said...

I'm hoping it is just the way I'm holding the trumpet. I hurt my back at university trying to get a monkey out of a cage. Since then I often have back issues so I imagine it is all connected. Also, typing at my laptop is not so great for the neck either. I've lowered my chair so that has helped. Also I do tend to obsess so it could be getting worse just from thinking about it. So I'm going to stop.

Glad my info about our funerals was of interest. I forget sometimes that things are done differently here, I suppose like everywhere.