Life in Addis Ababa is changing so fast that I sometimes feel I’m living somewhere else. Gone are the days when everyone had time to sit down for a cup of coffee and catch up. Not that I have any right to complain myself. I usually find that I turn down invitations for a friendly chat over coffee or a meal as often as anyone else in the city.
Thanks to Facebook, I don’t call any of my friends to see how they are or to meet up. Living in Addis Ababa is expensive so any free time is spent trying to earn more money or learn a new skill. I can’t even find the time to enjoy a peaceful afternoon riding a horse or even write a blog post.
The busyness, the noise, the rush and the crowds… it’s all so unlike the Addis I knew and loved and it gets pretty overwhelming sometimes. And since I’m a guy who needs some peace and quiet to collect my thoughts, I just head off to a refuge of peace when it all becomes too much.
I grew up in Piassa and it’s always been special to me. Just being in that part of town helps me unwind a bit. My self therapy starts on a taxi to Piassa.
Down one of its narrow streets is a group of tiny shops with corrugated tin walls, each one not much larger than the interior of a VW Beetle. It’s amazing what you can fit into a tiny space. Here you can find video rental stores, internet cafes, electricians, and of course, barbers.
My barber is the younger of a pair of barbers in one of these tiny shops. We’ve been friends for years, but only recently have I become his regular customer. Most days there isn’t a long queue, and if there is, I’m the only one in it.
A few short minutes after the minibus reaches good old Piassa, I’m sitting in a rickety old chair telling my barber to do the usual thing to my hair. And then I can relax.
I have nothing to worry about. I have nothing to do. I have nothing to say. No questions to answer. All I have to do is sit in that old chair.
As the clippers buzz hypnotically and the drama on the radio quietly unfolds, my mind finds rest. For the half an hour my eyes are closed, I’m in the Addis Ababa of yesterday. A place where you had all the time in the world, where total strangers sat down for a half-hour discussion and where travelling in a minibus did not require body armour.
In that tiny barber shop I find the peace and quiet I need to maintain my sanity in a rapidly progressing city.
David grew up in Ethiopia. After a nine-year stint in India he came back to find the country the same... yet different. Through this blog he hopes to create a place where people can learn more about life in Ethiopia - how different it can be from what is often perceived. He also blogs about anything that interests him at The Misadventures of David K and about digital photography with Ubuntu Linux at Ubuntu Photographer. When he isn't blogging, David is enjoying life with his wonderful family.