Monday, March 15, 2010

Got an itch

Today we went to Nangweshi in the Shangombo province. Here we found no electricity and no running water. When we pulled into the guest house where we were staying, I have to admit it became crystal clear to me that we were staying in the least developed part of Zambia that I had yet visited.

We each had a small hut and inside the hut I found a bed, a TV (that did not work), a table and a large mosquito net (torn) partially covering my bed. Beyond that, I had several unexpected roommates as there were many creatures in the room moving about – a lizard, a few spiders, plenty of mosquitoes, a few flies and at least 2 visible cockroaches scurrying across the floor. I had not had so many simultaneous roommates since the dormitory at my prep school had a massive sleepover for all the boarding students in the TV area.

While there was still sunlight, I decided to hang my own personal mosquito net that I was traveling with (which had no holes) and to unroll my sleeping sheet (like a sleeping bag, but only a sheet). It was so warm in the sun-drenched hut that sleeping with any more than a sheet was unfathomable. In fact, I had only used my sleeping sheet once before on this trip, but it was clear by the state of the sheets that were on the bed, my own personal sleeping sheet was going to get some use here. We had planned on staying two nights here.

For dinner, we had a choice of meat, which I assumed to be beef on a bone, and nshima. I had consumed a sufficient amount of nshima already and did not feel like eating it again and so I asked – ok begged – for some rice. They delivered and I happily cracked a can of tuna and ate it with my rice. I shared a couple beers with some of my travel companions while we ate in virtual darkness.

In the middle of taking a bite of my tuna and rice, some local boys started speaking loudly – almost aggressively - to me. I asked them what they were saying. “Hey muzungu! You don’t like nshima?” I tried to explained that I had eaten nshima for 4 nights in a row and was simply tiring of it. They continued with their line of questioning, "Why does Camfed only teach girls and not boys. We want to learn, too!” I then tred to defend myself saying that I was a volunteer and was hardly the decision maker for the organization. And with these two explanations delivered quicker than a pro pitcher's fast ball, the boys smiled and each put his right hand to his respective heart (a sign of respect) and they disappeared into the darkness without another word of harassment.

It was hard to fall asleep that evening and my roommates were bounding around my room and the night just seemed to encourage them. The heat made it hard to fall into a slumber and I was dreaming of being under a fan (or a sexy African queen fanning me) while I fell into a deep sleep. I must have eventually fallen asleep because I suddenly woke up to terrible itching on the bottoms of my feet. I was too long for the bed and my feet were pressed up against the end of the mosquito net I was sleeping under. So even though there were no holes in my netting, my biting roommates found the bottoms of my feet irresistibly tempting. After all, they were pressed up against the mosquito netting just begging to be feasted upon. So my roommates ate dinner as they feasted on the bottoms of my feet. God how they itched, and any one who has ever been bitten there knows that no matter how much you itch, the itch is never satiated and you just keep going back for just one last itch. It is one of the worst types of itches I have ever had. It felt like a "7-yesr itch" of the worst kind and it was almost impossible to alleviate this "need to itch".

At Nangweshi Basic we installed more solar panels and another 8 computers. This time we installed in front of an audience of roughly 70 kids between the ages of 7 and 17. They were all whispering to each other excitedly and pointing at the computers as we worked on them. They seemed to be in awe of what they were seeing in front of their very eyes. These glowing boxes with moving graphics and colors. There was no doubt they had never seen computers before and the lot of them were anxiously awaiting the opportunity to put their own hand on these strange, futuristic machines.

The solar panels posed a problem as we had to run the panels’ cables out of a rear window and under a tree just to reach a point in the yard where the panels would be sitting in direct sunlight for the majority of the day. The cables were just long enough to reach under the tree behind the classroom, but the school had asked us to install the panels on the roof.

It took me an inordinate amount of time to explain a few things; firstly, I did not have a welder nor was I skilled in the art of welding; secondly I did not have a 20-meter ladder to reach the rooftop, thirdly, I did not have insurance covering a fall from said roof. So we did not mount the panels on the roof, but instead installed them, safely back at sea level in the backyard of the basic school.

The teachers who we trained on installing and using the computers were quick to start asking for more equipment upon our completion of the installation. They asked us if the school could get additional solar panels for improving the efficiency of re-charging the battery. They also asked for a printer and internetr access. I told them that the sponsors were the decision makers for future investment, but went on to explain that if we see the schools taking good care of the equipment and the students using them and learning from them, and there is a general perception of a successful utilization of the computers, that there would be a good chance of the sponsors agreeing to providing additional equipment.

Again there was a real buzz here when we were installing the panels and the computers. The staff and students were thrilled to get this equipment supplied to them and we were thrilled to be supplying them with the equipment. These computers clearly would allow the staff to teach about computers, the students to learn about computers, the school’s education program to improve through these computers and the community to thrive with these computers. Everyone and everything seemed to be benefiting from this installation. I have never before felt like I was making such a perceivable difference with the work that I was doing with my own hands.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Puddles, Bubbles and Troubles

I have now given nicknames to the new group of fearless travelers on our mission to mentor young ladies into successful business women and spread solar-powered IT across Zambia. I can only hold my head high if I can do this with a group of professionals with ridiculous names.

Penelope has a tough act to follow after Fatuma (Flash). When I first met Penelope she was a serious talker and dropped a lot of fancy IT “buzz words”. She said she was very interested in IT and learning and had done a lot of IT in the past. But as she had not yet proven herself in the field as an experienced “troubleshooter”, I had decided she had only earned the first part of the name. So I call her “Troubles”. Until she can prove herself in the field, she is simply “Troubles”.

The group told me that Mr. Rain was not a legitimate nickname as it is a literal translation of his Bemba last name. So I was inspired by the story of Lazarus giving nothing but a red balloon to his wife every Valentine’s Day. All of us were giving poor Lazarus a very hard time for this fact. The girls especially continued to say that he can’t give his wife a balloon for Valentines Day. Lazarus consistently defended himself with the same response – “But it’s big…and it’s red!”. So now Lazarus is “Big Red”.
Our new driver, Justin, had car troubles on the first part of the trip and as we had already set out for the second half of our trip 5 hours late, we were about 7 hours behind schedule and I was becoming increasingly annoyed. Zambia still has problems with night car-jackings, especially with Toyota 4X4s (which I was seated in), so we were given explicit instructions not to travel at night. As the sun quickly fell out of the sky and night approached, we were still 4 hours from our final destination and I was growing more and more concerned. We had already been driving for 10 hours. Any of you who know me well understand that when I am concerned and annoyed, it can make for a lethal combination.

Justin was driving at a snail’s pace barely breaking 100 km/h (we had traveled at between 130 and 140 km/h before Justin came on the scene) when he suddenly pulled over, jumped out of his vehicle and ran off into the ever-darkening distance. When he came back towards our vehicles, I jumped out of the car, briskly walked over to face him and impatiently asked, “What are you doing? We need to hurry up and get going…we still have a long drive ahead of us!”. He smiled widely as he proudly held up a bag of colorful little balls and replied, “I wanted a bubble gum!” I almost lost it right there and then. And that was when Justin became “Bubbles”. Earlier in the trip, Justin proved to do a very good job looking after Ruth’s son, Junior, while we explored Victoria Falls and so I eventually promoted him to “Uncle Bubbles”. The girls nearly keeled over with laughter every time they heard it for the remainder of the trip.

Ruth became “Goldie” because the day I came up with it, everything she was wearing was gold. Her shirt, her bracelet, her toenails - even her hair had a gold hue.

On the way back from the West, Mwangala still had no nickname. So many of the nicknames accrued over the last four weeks had a similar ring – we had Dongles, Googles, Troubles, Bubbles, and so the last nickname I came up with had to stick to the theme. Mwangala’s new name came to me when we thought the vehicle which Uncle Bubbles was driving had a new round of technical troubles (the battery had died 10 times so far on the trip and he had a flat tire). So Big Red turned our vehicle around and we went back to aid the second vehicle, but as we approached, Mwangala waved us away from the bushes she was tucked into. It turns out they did not have technical troubles with their car at all. The truck had stopped so that she could simply relieve herself in the bushes. That’s how Mwangala became “Puddles”.

The group now has two nicknames for me. Sometimes they call me "MacGyver" (after the American action adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff and executively – and excellently - produced by Henry Winkler). They also call me "Shoots" (the better half of the IT team "Troubleshoots"). I prefer Shoots as MacGyver implies they take me seriously.

On the business side of things, the group we mentored on this sunny Sunday was raising baby chicks to be chickens so they could resell them on the open market. The girls were paying only 3,000 K ($0.60) for a chick and selling chickens for 30,000 K ($6). As the facility for raising the chickens was loaned to them for free, they only incur the cost of the feed and a security guard. These girls will have a pretty profit after all is said and done. And the way this group was running the business and the hatchery really impressed me very much. These girls had a lot of energy and proved themselves to be very competent, enthusiastic and clearly a group of driven young ladies!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The stress of success

Today we mentored and trained 2 groups. One group was selling solar lamps, which is very practical in a region with no electricity. The other group was selling sausages and minced meat as well as a number of other products in the small store that they have rented in the Sesheke marketplace.

The contrast in the groups we met with was pretty severe. Both groups of girls have started up their own businesses and were funded by Camfed. The funding includes covering expenses such as rent for the place of business, procurement of raw materials, office supplies, electricity bills, mobile phone and internet usage, advertising and marketing, and travel and transportation costs.

On one hand, the first group seemed de-motivated if not a bit frustrated. It seems the group was having communication problems. The distance between the group members posed problems for meeting in person. The region has high rates per minute for using the mobile phones and this made it hard to speak for prolonged periods of time in order to clarify and communicate between members. Moreover, the rates for internet usage are also high which seemed to discourage using email and Skype over the phone.

All of these communication challenges seemed to have a detrimental effect of the smooth operation of the business and as a result we saw a team that seemed relatively unmotivated. All of this really affected the team leader and she seemed to be defensive and reactionary rather than listening to and acknowledging criticism. Additionally, the team seemed less interested in learning about the computers and using the internet over the telephones.

On the other hand, we saw a second group in the same region that was cohesive and seemed to work very well together. The team members seemed to be able to arrange meetings more easily and more frequently and the business seemed to be running very well. This group was enthusiastic and participated willfully in the question and answer sessions with the mentors. We were able to assess weaknesses and areas for potential improvement more easily because they were more open and participated freely in the mentoring session. As a result of being enthusiastic and involved in the mentoring session, they also got much more out of the IT computer and telephone training.

This seemed to emphasize the importance of intra-team communication. Without it, the team cohesion seems to breakdown and clearly teamwork suffers. The result is that the team loses focus, enthusiasm, motivation and eventually the entire business suffers. I have seen this before within the small teams that I have managed in my own career. When the team knows exactly what they are supposed to do and when and their roles and the business objectives are clear, the teamwork seems to grow stronger. And of course, the inverse holds true. Without clear focus, objectives, and definition of roles, the team starts to deteriorate.

The first team asked if Camfed could pay for a space for them to meet in so their communication could improve. But we had to point out that first Camfed has to see progress within the team and in the business before additional investment can be considered. To be honest, Camfed has already provided all the groups with a great deal of support, both financial and mentoring and training. There comes a point where if the groups do not start to prove themselves as a viable business that Camfed has to have a “cut-off`” point.

I really sympathize with the girls and realize that it is not what they wanted to hear, but the truth of the matter is that not all of the groups will be successful. The same holds true in the real world of business. So it was very tough for us to deliver this message, but essentially we said that if the group can start to prove it is capable of working together and demonstrating teamwork, additional investments can be considered. But if they cannot, the additional expenditures will likely not be justifiable. The group must first prove itself as reliable and motivated.

At times, the mentoring can be hard and you can see the heartbreak in the eyes of some of the groups that seem to have lost their way on the road to successful entrepreneurship.

Friday, March 12, 2010


We are now traveling through the Western Province. We started off in Senanga and will go on to Sesheke, Shangombo, Nangweshi and finally Sioma. The west of Zambia is sandy and dry. Although we will be driving along the Zambezi River the whole time, we will have no electricity and no running water for the majority of this leg of the trip. We will quickly pass over a bridge and briefly into Namibia, so that should be cool to get to go to a third country in Africa, but we will be on extremely rough roads and we have already have had some car troubles within our convoy.

Yesterday we visited Victoria Falls and it was spectacular! This is just the end of a very wet rainy season and so the falls were gushing with water. We got absolutely soaked all the way down to our underclothes. There is such a huge amount of water pouring over the falls that we could see the mist rising from the bottom of the falls when we were 5 km (3 miles) away from the falls! Very impressive stuff!

I am on my fourth week of straight travel now and spending yesterday at the falls has been a great break from all of it. We were able to stretch our legs as we walked around the falls and we had a great laugh doing so. In fact, there was so much water and we were getting so wet, it made it hard to take photos and videos without ruining the photographic equipment. To visit Victoria Falls, the Zambians paid 5,000 K to get in ($1) and I paid 95,000 K ($25). We also went to another set of smaller falls today on our way to Sesheke and this time it was free entry for the Zambians and I had to pay 25,000 K. Being a Muzungu can be expensive!

When we arrived in Sesheke all the girls went to have their hair done. The falls took a toll on our hair and our clothing and so it was an opportune time for the girls to go straight to a salon upon our arrival. Zambians like to look good and Zambian women spend a lot of money doing their hair. Sometimes they wear wigs which have straight hair “like a Muzungu” as they described it to me. Other times they get weaves where they weave hair extensions into the natural hair. I spent 1.5 hours waiting for the girls to pretty themselves for our dinner, and by the time we went to eat, I was famished.

In the west you have a choice of nshima, nshima or nshima. That can be accompanied by chicken or fish. So I ordered sea bream and nshima and the fish was amazing. Nshima is ground maize (corn) that is boiled and stirred into something resembling a very, very thick mashed potato – so thick in fact that you eat it with your hands. You do so by pulling off a bit of the nshima, rolling it in your hand (or “playing with it” as the Zambians like to say) and then you take the ball you have rolled up in your palm and you scoop up some sauce or some green vegetable (called “rape”) with it. Contrary to its name, the rape is actually delicious and between that and the fish, I was very satiated at the end of the meal, washing it all down with an ice cold Zambian beer.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Young mothers

The girls I am traveling with on this adventure are pretty amazing. I found out during my travels here that all of them and most of the girls working at the office in Lusaka are orphans. Camfed is not only a campaign for education but also focuses on making the lives of girls around Africa more stable by sponsoring their education, clothing, food and helping them pay for their families. They do this for girls who have lost one or both parents and who likely already have one or more children of their own. Penelope, who I am mentoring to be an IT manager, lost both her parents and all but one sibling. On her own, she raises 12 kids, 2 of her own and 10 of her sisters.

All the girls I am working with and who work at the office are in a similar situation as Penelope. As we travel I realize that every time we eat a meal or stay at a guest house, the less they spend, the more they can save for their families. Unlike me - looking for good food and comfortable accommodations in each place we stay - the girls want to eat cheap and stay in the least expensive guest houses we can find so they can pocket their per diem. It took me 6 weeks to learn all of this. But now that I know it, I am starting to pay for many of the meals and incidentals. Ironically, they all get paid for the work they are doing while I am doing volunteer work and get no pay. But the per diem is more than enough for me to pay my way and then some.

A couple of the girls really impress me with how dedicated they are to the program and the work they do training and mentoring the girls. Fatuma is extremely motivated to learn IT and asks questions all the time. She will stay up to late hours with me writing IT reports and this is after long and stressful days driving long distances, installing the IT equipment and training and mentoring the group leaders.

Melody is very passionate and inquisitive. She asks great questions during the mentoring sessions and when she finds the girls are losing motivation or not focused she will look them in the eyes and have a heart-to-heart with them about how they have to work hard and take advantage of this great opportunity they have been given to start-up their own businesses. She is great with words and you can tell that she means every word that comes out of her mouth. Her words come from her heart and she has a big heart.

Ruth told me the story of how she got pregnant at a very early age and how she and her mother help take care of her mother’s 22 siblings and her sibling’s children. It is a large clan all said and Ruth takes the money she gets from Camfed and pays for raising her family as well as sending herself to school for economics. Ruth, too, does a great job with the girls and is very motivated. The first day I worked with her I could tell she would make a great mentor. She listens carefully and she does a great job of “drilling down” to get the answers and helping the girls. She inspires the girls and she tells them personal stories of her own experiences to motivate them and keep them interested.

Mwangala is a program officer and is fantastic - she is very driven and obviously interested in the girls’ projects. You can tell she cares and you can see her passion when you watch her work. I love when I see people passionate about their work and I feel it makes them much more motivated in their work and generally makes them more effective and better at their job. She asks very good questions, she keeps things positive and she re-focuses the group when they get discouraged or side-tracked.

When I consider what these girls have been through and the hardships they are faced with it is truly impressive. I feel proud to be part of the team and I also feel lucky to get to work with these young women. On the other hand, some of the petty things that I have complained about in my past or little things I get worked up about during my career – they all seem so insignificant. These girls are an inspiration and they face life head-on, even when it treats them poorly or scares the hell out of them. What they have gone through to get where they are today is incredible. If I can go as far ahead in my life as these girls have in theirs, I would do myself and my parents extremely proud, of that I am sure.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sausage torture

Today we met with group 10. The girls were originally selling sausages. They then entered into micro-finance and then decided on the strangely unique combination of sausages and micro-finance. I wondered to myself…so if they have a slow payer do they threaten to “stone” the culprit with sausages? Or do those who prove to be bad borrowers get stuffed like a sausage? Or perhaps sausages get stuffed down the throats of those who default on their loans.

As I reflected on the various methods of using sausage for the purpose of torture, I started to realize that I really did not feel very well. Foolishly (and cockily) just this morning I was bragging to Mr. Rain about how I was the only one in the group, other than he, who had not gotten sick since my arrival in Zambia. Well we know what happens when we make proud proclamations like that, because before I knew what was happening and lost somewhere in the middle of a sausage torture ritual, I started to sweat and flush over with heat and my head started to pound. Was it the sausages? Was I making myself ill with too much of my sick sausage torture fantasy? No. This was something else. I dropped my head into my hands and for the first time on the entire trip started to feel ill.

I promptly excused myself from the training session and Lazarus drove me to the guest house where I popped 600 mg of Ibuprofen, plopped down on the bed, propped a pillow over my head and dropped into a deep sleep. When I woke up my head was still hurting but my temperature had subsided. I got up and out of the bed and stumbled to the door. When I opened it I realized for the first time how beautiful the area we were staying in was.

We were smack dab on the Zambezi River and surrounded by large trees covered in white lily-like flowers. Every once in a while one of these flowers would slowly drop from the trees and come spinning down like a small white helicopter whose body turned instead of its blades. And it would silently plop down on the ground where several of its relatives had also dropped down polka-dotting the well manicured dirt paths beneath the trees. It felt very peaceful here and I must say I felt my mood lift and my head suddenly stop pounding at the site of all of this natural beauty.

I walked down to the river bank and gazed at the ebb and flow of ripples along the top of the water. It was soothing and with that, I suddenly realized how hungry I was. I walked back up to the restaurant and gazed over the menu. Nothing. Literally nothing inspired me. Chicken and T-bone. Ugggh. So I called Mr. Rain and asked him to drive me into town. There we found 2 restaurants. One was very dimly lit and the only outside tables were complimented with characterless, white, plastic chairs, most of them already occupied by customers.

So we drove on to the second restaurant. And it was a beauty! It had three big outdoor wooden gazebos with nice wooden chairs to match. It was perfect and I told Mr. Rain to leave me there and I’d join him later. “Hello. How are you? May I see a menu please?” I asked. They had no menu, but I will give you one guess as to what they were serving - and you will guess right, of that I am sure. Chicken and T-bone. Ugggh. So I ordered chicken and chips (fries) and sat down outside in the shade of the gazebo.

45 minutes later I walked over to the woman who had taken my order and asked where she reckoned my food was. “We have no power” she said flatly. Ugggh. Had she thought of mentioning this when I first placed the order? Had she even considered that it might be relevant to the fact that my food being heated and cooked thoroughly was completely dependent on the electricity which powered the electric cooker? I guess she hadn’t. But she did say that the fries would be ready momentarily so I gladly accepted her offer to eat just the chips and a Coke. The Coke came and was ice cold and I was glad and gulped a third of the bottle down. Then the “fries” came.

The irony in calling them “fries” (the American term for the British “chips”) was that they were literally saturated with barely warmed oil. They were the color of a freshly peeled potato without even a hint of color indicating the oil had actually begun to cook the potato. And when my starvation peaked to such a level that I was willing to take a bite of this raw, oil-soaked, colorless potato, the crunch was not that of something fried in oil, but that of a potato picked fresh from the garden and dipped into Castor oil. It was the sad and impotent crunch one experiences when he takes a bite out of an old, mealy apple. I can tell you I left that place in a huff.

I asked Mr. Rain to swing by a small store in the center of town where they sold everything from flip flops to roach powder and from electric keyboards to soap. I bought two bags of chips (crisps) that looked like they had been put into a time capsule in 1870 and buried in someone’s backyard in hopes that a hungry, whiny, white man would someday find them and quench his hunger pangs on this ancient delicacy. One was called “Salted Beef” and tasted of musty, salty shoe leather. The other was called “Tomato Potato” and tasted like a piece of moistened cardboard dipped in very sweet tomato ketchup. I dreamed of lasagne or a big pizza with salami piquant covering it and a big glass of bold IItalian red to go with it. But, alas, my dreams went unanswered and so, there I sat, sadly chewing on shoe leather and moist cardboard. Right about now, sausage torture sounds like heaven!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Chocolate or Vanilla?

I had a nice relaxing break from travel for 2.5 days and rested at the guest house. We now have a new group of mentors and trainers. Our group is now made up of Penelope, who I am mentoring on this trip. She comes from Samfya and co-manages the IT centre there called the SRC or Samfya Resource Centre. Sinakiwe (meaning Gift, which is what I call her, as I can easily remember it) has joined us from Zimbabwe and she is one of the mentors who will help to monitor the progress of the Cama groups. Ruth is from the Western province and will also mentor along side Gift. Mr. Rain, Gift and Penelope are in one vehicle, and Chanda, Ruth and the new driver, Justin, are in the second vehicle.

This morning we were supposed to leave very early to go to the Western province. The trip was supposed to last 9 hours, however, one of the vehicles in our convoy got a flat tire and the spare tire was flat. As if this did not slow us down enough, Justin drives like a blue-haired grandmother on heavy sedatives. So with the convoy slowed to a turtle’s pace, and the slow repair of the flat tire which then needed pumping, a 9-hour trip turned into 12 hours. Moreover, we stopped not in Senanga which was our final destination and where we were scheduled to meet the Cama group the following day, but in Mongu which is 1.5 hours short of Senanga.

That night I was sitting having dinner with Mr. Rain. By the time we sat down just short of 10 PM, they had nothing but chicken, chicken and more chicken. So I begged for the last sausage. I also order a side of fries. I shrewdly noticed that ordering the two separately saved me 4,000 Kwacha ($1.00). If I ordered fries with sausage as a single order it was 18,000 K but separately it was only 7,000 K for each. This really confused the waiter and after calling a huddle with 3 of his colleagues, they all decided the menu (and I) was right and they granted me the 4,000 K “discount”.

As I gobbled down the sadly small, shriveled sausage and soggy fries, I noticed a group of 4 white girls walk into the restaurant. They did a double-take and I echoed one right back at them, as it was always rare to stumble across another white person, especially out here in the sticks. As I contemplated what these 4 cute white girls were doing out here in the middle of nowhere, suddenly another 15 or so joined them and, just like that, the 5 black customers became the minority for what I would venture to guess was the first time in their dining history at this eating establishment.

The other thought that crossed my mind at the time was that these white girls looked so foreign to me. After 6 weeks in Zambia and only seeing one white woman, Jane the trainer, I realized that it seemed strange to once again gaze at a white girl’s features - or 20 white girls, for that matter. And without intending any offense to any white women who might be reading this, there was something very “vanilla” (pun sort of intended) about this group of exceptionally attractive young ladies. I mean some were gorgeous and very much the type I might go for back home. But I guess I have become so accustomed to white European features over my lifetime, that there was something relatively plain about these girls. The African women I had been seeing for the past month and a half seemed relatively much more new and exotic to me.

And now as I tried to remind myself that I will be retuning to Europe in 3 weeks I am acutely aware of the fact that I really have a new found appreciation and attraction to African women. They are exotic and very feminine and their movements seem to flow more easily than their light-skinned sisters. For now I observed the white girls’ movements and mannerisms almost as a little clumsy and awkward. This can at least partially be attributed to their relatively young age. Yet still, I could not help but notice a very tangible difference between the young African girls and the white girls I now observed in the small restaurant in which I sat.