Day 409: White Girls in Africa get bad deals.

by Claire,


Tinga Tinga is the t-shirt man, and there is a problem with the 400 t-shirts we had to drive 3 hours to Nairobi to haggle over. The specific problem is not interesting, but suffice it to say relates to the fact that Tinga Tinga is raising prices because he claims he is out of what we wanted. This is very problematic as per our non existent budget and increasingly populous orphanage (2 new kids last week).


But I'm getting ahead of myself. It all started one month ago, when we didn't want to have to drive to Nairobi in the first place. We are used to ordering things American-like, meaning on the DSL internet or if you are really inconvenienced through an 800 number. However, Tinga Tinga insisted it was better to do business in person. Typically, this means it is time to bargain.


To meet TingaTinga, we had to drive three hours to the warehouse district of Nairobi, where we were let into a gated compound, and then a strange factory, and then finally a funny smelling office where Tinga Tinga offered us tea and answered cell phone calls intermittently from his wife.  


Being smart White Girls in Africa, we brought along our "accountant," the 20 year old Tumaini kid who has already graduated from secondary school and was recovering from malaria. As a non white girl in Africa, we felt he would help ensure that our prices did not sky rocket. After haggling poorly over the t-shirts, and cursing Tinga Tinga silently for making us drive all the way to Nairobi to do so, we left. But one month later, we are back to square one, with more haggling, more requests for us to drive to Nairobi to have useless business meetings, and more headache.


In sum, we are sick of bargaining. This week, we found out that bargaining even happens at hospitals. The white price we were charged for Renee's 2 day stay was a highway robbery, and provoked the elders of Tumaini to get more angry than I have ever seen anyone, ever. I quickly realized that the wrath of a Kenyan grandmother is unmatched. Although we got Renee out of the hospital without paying, and are waiting for the hospital's meetings with the elders to sort things out, we are still reminded in every daily purchase that we are White Girls in Africa.


Today, while bargaining over Season 3 of LOST (we had to go to town to get bandages for Renee) Lara was accused of accusing the seller of discrimination. Specifically, Lara said that she was being charged far too much simply because she is white. It was a ridiculous conversation, much like the daily conversations with the little Urphans at Tumaini about how precisely typing words into a computer earns Claire and Lara a living.


"Are you saying that we discriminate and give the white people a different price?" The not-at-all legitimately outraged shopkeeper asked.


"Yes." Lara said. "Yes I am."

1 comment:

Adam said...

Dig this post. When's the book coming out?

Check out the Causes app on Facebook. Maybe you can raise money with that deal.

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