T.I.A! #becsoneill

curtains Empty flat mover new house move photo 1 photo 2 (6)

I remember being sat in Benugos in GSK House a week before I came on my assignment with Pazza ( a lovely friend of mine) and he said, “Remember… T.I.A”- I had no idea what he was on about. “T.I.A” is common acronym for this part of the world that basically sums up the past few weeks that I’ve had. Expect nothing to happen on time, be done properly, be finished at all or on time, be simple and easy to do and just deal with it is the motto out here. Believe me, it massively tests your patience and stress levels but now I honestly feel like I’m starting to become accustomed to it. On the positive side it is a much more relaxed culture; you become less worried about things going wrong and have lower expectations, on the other hand I find it an incredibly frustrating way to live at times but that’s what you get right when you come to a developing country like this….a completely different way of life with different challenges and that has definitely rang true for me over the past few weeks…

When I last left you we were just about to move from our apartment to improve our security. Frank’s Movers arrived and I have never seen anything so quick and efficient since i’ve been out here- very un-Ugandan! Within 30minutes everything was boxed, wrapped and loaded on to the removal van and we were on our way to our new place. We haven’t moved far, only about 15mins from our old place but with a much more professional security team with big threatening AK47s, barbed wire around the walls and we’re on a higher level off the ground- all tick tick tick measures that you should look out for if you’re scoping out a safe place to live in Uganda and probably East Africa in general.

And we’re in…in our new, very spacious, very empty apartment with no furniture other than a bed mattress. My flatmate and I had complete paranoia for the first week or so, suspecting every sound, believing everyone was looking in and we were the mzungu targets ready to be had. The only way to get over it was to enforce extreme security measures!! Iron gates, curtains/nets to prevent people looking in and even the consideration of adopting a wild viscous beast…ie cute little puppy as a potential guard dog has crossed our minds! (Too far…? Probably!)

Mission 1: Fit an Iron gate/grill on the front door- Most of the houses and properties out here are fitted with iron grills over the windows and doors just as an extra precaution to prevent intruders- we never had this in our previous place and it seemed like the wise thing to do. Uncle Paul (the go- to man for EVERYTHING) recommended the people to come do the job.  After a good haggle and measurements taken I’m thinking brilliant,by tomorrow we’re going to be in our own little safe fortress and nobody is getting in here. Over a week later we have holes in the walls, a broken floor tile and a grill that had fallen off the door- not quite the idea we were going for! After some hand holding with measurements, a few power cuts here and there, some welding in the living room and multiple trips to and from the timber sites we now have not the most aesthetically pleasing but most importantly safe gated front door! Lesson one- Punctuality is just not a thing out here-always add on at least another 3 hours after the ETA- deal with it… T.I.A!

Mission 2: Kit the flat out with nets and curtains- Again, Uncle Paul ran to the rescue with his recommendation and after more haggling and measurements I’m confident that not much can go wrong if you’re asking for neutral curtains and nets to match the plain cream walls…Back they come with the most vile looking material I think I’ve ever seen…burnt orange coloured nets splattered with gold mandarin writing- it was painful to the eye and I think would have been a deterrent in itself. Lesson 2: Be very specific about what you want otherwise it just will not end well and never assume… T.I.A!

Mission 3: Get a guard dog….. In progress…my flatmate is currently deciding which cute and cuddly puppy would be most suitable J

Mission 4: Start furnishing the flat with the essential items- Cooker, fridge, bed etc. The cooker and fridge got ticked off the list fairly quickly. The only issue being the shop where we bought the cooker and gas canister doesn’t sell the cable to connect them both together, but hey why would it?… T.I.A!

Mission 5: Solve the plumbing issue- there’s been a slightly stinky sewage smell in one of the bathrooms lately so the plumbers came over only to tell us the only solution is cover the drain with a matt and open the window…. T.I.A!

So it’s been an interesting move and past few weeks I would say but what do you expect….

                                                                                         THIS IS AFRICA!

…and I love it 🙂



  1. Hey Becas, T.I.A. …I can relate to this story….but in my case it would be T.I.I…..This is India. I too have learnt not to expect things to happen as you would expect, learnt to be patient and shrug my shoulders. Jayshree

  2. I was in Ghana last year and now working on the PULSE team. I have told all of my current volunteers based anywhere in Africa about TIA. But like you said, you love it!! TIA…. and I miss it!! Thanks for sharing your stories!!

    Oh and I had the issue in the bathroom as well…. they usually don’t use the “J-pipe” there in Africa which helps trap the smells. This sounds very watseful in Africa but if you let the water run for just a bit in the sinks, it can sometimes fix the problem.

    Good luck!!

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