Pang’ono pang’ono

Compared to what I’m used to back in the UK or Hong Kong, life in Malawi is slow (“pang’ono pang’ono“). This was expected but it is still taking some getting used to.

A combination of the very hot climate, power cuts, telecommunication outages and general bureaucracy (which may have a genuine reason but I’ve not been able to understand just yet) means that simple tasks often take a long time. Just ask my house-mate who is still trying to get his newly acquired car to be declared road legal!

The upshot is that you learn to adapt, live at a more gentle pace and enjoy the more basic things. Such as a lukewarm shower or a decent meal and chat with friends, or indeed, finding the handkerchief you thought you lost! Life without television isn’t so bad. Though I must confess, I’m still getting my flicker fix via a vast back catalogue of Mad Men, 雷霆掃毒, Breaking Bad, ER and assorted films (Rock of Ages wasn’t that bad!).

It’s coming up to 4 weeks since I arrived in Malawi. So I better start letting you know about the main reason I’m here in the first place: WORK!

Well, no surprises here. Work is also very slow. The HRMIS project we were brought in for is literally just getting started. So we are still trying to make sense of it. Hopefully progress will pick up and I’ll have something more interesting to write about soon… instead of my first suspected case of malaria.

To cut a long story short, I fell ill on Sunday night after briefly visiting Lake Malawi for the first time. Fever, aches, hot and cold sweats, combined with diarrhoea, dehydration and probably exhaustion from my first piece of physical exercise for at least 3 months (swimming in the Lake). No particular symptom was that severe. It was more the combination that gave me a rough time. Anyway, by Monday evening, I seemed to be over it after plenty of bed/sofa rest and plain congee/rice porridge (traditional Chinese sustenance for sick people)! So it wasn’t malaria because I didn’t even take the treatment. Just me being a lightweight “azungu“.

Tionana” for now.

Categories: Malawi, Volunteering, VSO, Work | Tags: , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Pang’ono pang’ono

  1. Gaurav

    Just read your post as I park my car for work. Appreciate the simple things as it is a mad busy world back here. Sounds your having a true adventure – not too sure about swimming in the lake though!


  2. Herb



  3. Hello! We’ve just landed in Delhi. Sorry to hear you’ve been ill. I watched Rock of Ages on the plane – perhaps it was the altitude, but I thought it was awful!


  4. Peter Ford

    Hey Herman!
    Glad you’re better! How was swimming in Lake Malawi? Crap fact: did you know you’re swimming in one of the starting points (along with Lake Victoria and similar) of the next new Ocean? Perhaps The Herman Ocean has a ring to it?


    • The Lake is pretty awesome. Good for chilling out or a decent swim if you go further out and brave the not inconsiderable waves. The beach has nice sand and is mainly unpolluted. I hear it’s much nicer at other bays. Senga Bay is the nearest one to Lilongwe so I guess it’s pretty well used.

      That was a terrible fact Pete but thanks! 🙂


  5. Pingback: Slow Down | Herman is Out of the Office

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