Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Swahili cell phone



My old cell phone is going to Tanzania, to be used for conversations in Swahili among a family of school teachers.

I bought the phone cheap from a melancholic Armenian two years ago. He was a part-time dad and told me about his unhappy divorce. I carried the thing around in my pocket, running on my Chinese sister-in-law's old SIM card, until the battery started to give up the ghost. Then my dad gave me his old phone, just as primitive as the previous one, but a lot smaller.

Tuesday, I sold the sorrowful Armenian's phone. I sold it cheap, advising its new owner to replace the battery. She's a visiting engineering student, specialising in methods to provide clean drinking water for rural Tanzania. She's also the mother of four and has ten siblings, most of them school teachers.

I've never been to sub-Saharan Africa, but now my phone's going. I wonder if they'll be able to hear whispers of Armenian, Turkish, Mandarin, Swedish and English if they listen carefully to the background static hiss.

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