This article was recently written in Brussels. Looking out through the
wide window my room, I can see an elderly man, half naked, lying back on a couch
and enjoying light sunbathing. He has on dark sunglasses to protect his eyes
from the glittering rays. I can see a few trees crowned with full green leaves
and blossoming flowers. The city of Brussels seems to be in her colourful
Memory brings back the chaotic scene of people, running this way and
that, in search of a safe haven to protect themselves from the vagaries of
weather in Addis Abeba. A piece of advice, both to pedestrians as well as
motorists alike, to beware of the sudden change in weather conditions, and be
ready for the circumstances in terms of dressing up for the occasion and
Of course the rainfall is welcome in Ethiopia this time of the year. We
only hope the coverage is balanced and inclusive of all the areas within the
various territories of the land. Rainfall means a lot, both to our country and
to those downstream countries which depend very much on the shared rivers.
It is interesting to note that our Egyptian brothers in Cairo have
installed a sanitary system at their international airport that economises usage
of every drop of water, as I have witnessed last Saturday night, the of July 23,
2011. The water taps in the lavatories flush water, enabling optimum use,
running for a few seconds, and switching off to avoid any wastage of water.
We were stranded at Cairo International Airport for over three hours,
and the utility service was excellent. Incidentally, we were driven off by bus
for at least 15 minutes to a secluded place where the aircraft landed. The
captain apologised for the delay claiming, "due to various reasons ..." We had
no idea what those "various reasons" might be. But the next day, we heard that
there was a massive public demonstration in the city centre. Our guess for the
delay was not for "various reasons," but for understandable reasons.
During our long stay at the airport, we met an Ethiopian family
destined for Athens with plans to visit their daughter, who was about to deliver
a child in the coming few days. The couple seemed to be uncertain about the safe
delivery of their packed food. The woman was expressing her sympathy in advance,
imagining the worst case of arriving empty handed. She told me that she had
spent quite a fortune to prepare the traditional favourites, including barley
flour, seasoned butter, dried strips of meat, various spices, grounded pepper,
and coffee. In fact, the couple listed many more items that escape my memory.
I would like to make a remark in passing of an interesting encounter
that I had at a prestigious hotel in Brussels, where the flight attendants were
lodging. As I was waiting for someone at the reception desk, a group of very
young and pretty Ethiopian aircraft crew members flocked by, carrying heaps of
shopping bags with low-class brands. The receptionist was making a derogatory
remark that was offensive even to the Ethiopian airlines company. She was
telling her friend about certain anecdotes revealing how some of these flight
attendants wash their lunch boxes in their hotel rooms, staining the sinks with
the greasy and smelly content.
For all we know, these crew members are paid adequate daily allowances
in hard currency. They could pay for snacks at cosy restaurants, or use the
plastic bags carrying brands commensurate with the prestige of their hotels.
Ethiopians have to watch out for these things that affect our image,
particularly at a time like this, when the world is reminded of the region’s
image, as depicted by famine. Of course, drought is a more grave example of the
serious consequences of climate.
In returning to the weather story, I remember the perennial complaints
of pedestrians, against reckless drivers who splash muddy water by their
inconsiderate acceleration as they speed past sidewalks. Some pedestrians try to
run way, in order to escape from the muddy splash, while motorists seem to enjoy
chasing friends, in an attempt to avoid deep potholes. The tag of war aside, it
is the almost impulsive and violent nature of the downpour that catches
pedestrians by surprise, as they are not dressed or equipped with umbrellas, to
protect themselves from the pounding of heavy showers.
Indeed, when we talk about the impacts of the weather in those terms,
we cannot forget that we are all under the dictates of climate. On the contrary,
there are various factors that go beyond weather reports or forecasts. We often
listen to international weather forecasts expressed in such terms as heat waves
flowing north, heavy showers covering large areas, rising temperatures followed
by windy breezes, dry air and stormy winds.
These expressions on weather can be translated into different aspects
of our daily lives. Human life, in return, can affect the environment, weather,
and climate, in various ways.
The pollution of air, by smoking, cigarette can be taken as an
unavoidable example, as they have done in Brussels. The non-smoking area
coverage has, of late, included pubs and cafés in the city. The rooms are now
free from the odour of choking smoke, rendering clients to enjoy the breathing
of clean air. Of course, a few impatient smokers will have to go outside
carrying an ashtray for their cigarette fix, every time they feel like smoking.
Some may find this practice very pestering, particularly when it showers
One may assume that smokers might as well go home altogether to smoke
freely. But then there is the aspect of missing the human camaraderie. Many
folks make it a point to go out to sip coffee, or even dine and wine in
restaurants, for the sake of meeting with people and chatting with strangers.
Weather permitting; people go out to parks where there are beautiful
gardens full of colourful flowers, and floating ducks and swans. The green
meadows are stunningly beautiful as sunlight befalling them; the weather’s
cooperation should always be appreciated.