After 30 minutes, two old Toyota minivans and a life time worth of car fume you can reach a downtown high school on the outskirts of Kigali. The high school goes from morning till evening and consists of about 10 to 15 students crammed into a single room. In this tiny room about the size of my bed room, there are a few rows of poorly constructed benches where the students squeeze themselves into. There is one hand made black board, which is more grey than it is black, that stands a little crooked at the front of the room.
I was asked to teach English there and during the first class I experienced quite a culture shock. Culture shock, not because the realities of the many people living in Rwanda were things I hadn't known, but because I had so gotten used to my smooth efficient life back in Japan.
For the lesson, I had been given a work sheet and on it were vocabulary words such as washing machine, dryer, kettle, vacuum cleaner, and dish washer. One of the students, Jean Paul, being curious about all these objects asked me to explain each object.
"What is mashing machine?"
"That is a machine that washes clothes."
"What is dryer?"
"A dryer is a machine that drys your clothes."
Realizing his grammatical error and probably somewhat confused at the necessity of these machines, "What is a kettle?"
"A kettle is a machine that boils, makes water hot."
"What is a vacuum cleaner?"
"It cleans the floor. It takes away dust from your floor."
"What is a dish washer?"
"A machine that washes your dishes."
"Teacher? Is it true that people have one television for each person?"
"A lot of times yes. What do you do when you get home?"
"I help my mother make food. I eat. I sleep. I have no electricity at my home."
The more I explained each machine, the more stupid I felt telling them that people can be lazy enough to make these machines and find it a necessity.
I find it somewhat ironic how all these electronics are offered to us to simplify our lives and add leisure. But then again, going home, helping make dinner, eating, and sleeping, sounds perfectly simple to me. Maybe its the things that take more time than necessary, that makes us realize the importance of simple leisure.