Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Race at Sunrise...or not...

Every morning in Africa,
a gazelle wakes up.
It knows that it must run
faster than the fastest lion.
Or it will be killed.
Every morning a lion wakes up.
It knows that it must out run the slowest gazelle.
Or it will starve to death.
It doesn't matter whether you are a lion
or a gazelle; when the sun comes up
You had better be running

That is an African Parable. 
According to the above, Dar es Salaam is very un-African, because around here, people are rarely in a hurry and even more rarely running...except for the Masai...but that is not the point as they don't operate the business centers.  The culture around here is very much of the procrastination kind - "hamna shida, kesho" (no worries, tomorrow)!
But I can't really blame them  - if I lived in a place where I didn't need shelter from the cold, I could do a little fishing everyday and when I walk home a paw-paw falls on my head (tada, salad!) - who would want to run anywhere?  Let's rather...DANCE!  Yeah!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Mangotree musers moving up in the world

You guys might remember Hibiscus who delighted us with her quirky and delish recipes! Soon after leaving the craziness of Dar for the bright lights of Cape Town Hibiscus is already making a name for herself. Profiled on Spatula Magainze's 'We like your style' section and her work featured with a recipe for yummy Christmas icecream! And really..with that can she fail? We wish you the best for the future Hibiscus!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Smiling in the pursuit of happiness

Putting a smile on ones face and being conscious in the pursuit of your own happiness is a gift that I have received from a little book, lent after a delightful dinner party on Saturday night. I am trying to smile as much as I can, and when I feel I cant, I try to remember the above - because the flowers will my smile for me until I can again. And if I can realize this, things can never be that bad :)


Thursday, November 18, 2010


This was a speech made by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Anna Quindlen
at the graduation ceremony of an American university where she was
awarded an Honorary PhD. 

"I'm a novelist. My work is human nature. Real life is all I know. 
Don't ever confuse the two, your life and your work. You will walk 
out of here this afternoon with only one thing that no one else has. 
There will be hundreds of people out there with your same degree: 
there will be thousands of people doing what you want to do for a 
living. But you will be the only person alive who has sole custody 
of your life. Your particular life. Your entire life. Not just your
life at a desk, or your life on a bus, or in a car or at the computer.
Not just the life of your mind, but the life of your heart. 
Not just your bank accounts but also your soul ... 

People don't talk about the soul very much anymore. It's so much easier
to write a resume than to craft a spirit. But a resume is cold comfort
on a winter's night, or when you're sad, or broke, or lonely, or when
you've received your test results and they're not so good. 

Here is my resume: I am a good mother to three children. I have tried
never to let my work stand in the way of being a good parent. I no
longer consider myself the centre of the universe. I show up. I
listen. I try to laugh. I am a faithful friend to my husband. I have
tried to make marriage vows mean what they say. I am a good friend to
my friends and them to me.
Without them, there would be 
nothing to say to you today, because I would be a cardboard cut out. 
But, I call them on the phone and I meet them for lunch. I would be
rotten, at best mediocre, at my job if those other things were not true.

You cannot be really first rate at your work if your work is all you
So here's what I wanted to tell you today: 

Get a life. A real life,
not a manic pursuit of the next promotion, the bigger pay cheque, the
larger house. Do you think you'd care so very much about those things
if you blew an aneurysm one afternoon or found a lump in your breast?

Get a life in which you notice the smell of salt water pushing itself on
a breeze at the seaside, a life in which you stop and watch how a
red-tailed hawk circles over the water, or the way a baby scowls with
concentration when she tries to pick up a sweet with her thumb and first

Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love and
respect, and who love and respect you. And remember that love is not 
leisure, it is work - hard work. Pick up the phone. Send an email. 
Write a letter. Make an effort. Get a life in which you are generous.
And realize that life is the best thing ever, and that you have no
business taking it for granted. Care so deeply about its goodness that
you want to spread it around. Take money you would have spent on beer
and give it to charity. Work in a soup kitchen. Be a big brother or
sister. All of you want to do well. But if you do not do good too, then
doing well will never be enough. 

It is so easy to waste our lives, our days, our hours, and our minutes.
It is so easy to take for granted the colour of our kids' 
eyes, the way the melody in a symphony rises and falls and disappears
and rises again. It is so easy to exist instead of to live.

I learned to live many years ago. I learned to love the journey, not
the destination. I learned that it is not a dress rehearsal, and that 
today is the only guarantee you get. I learned to look at all the 
good in the world and try to give some of it back because I believed 
in it, completely and utterly. And I tried to do that, in part, by 
telling others what I had learned. By telling them this: Consider 
the lilies of the field. Look at the fuzz on a baby's ear. Read in the
back yard with the sun on your face. 

Learn to be happy. And think of life as a terminal illness, because if
you do, you will live it with joy and passion as it ought to be lived".

If we could all live by this philosophy the world would be a better place...

Monday, November 15, 2010

"I do not think of you, that you can ever forget me"...

A week ago I had to travel to Kenya for work.  Much of my time was spent in Karen. 
Karen is the suburb named after Karen Blixen that wrote one of my all time favourite books - Out of Africa.  The suburb is situated in the area where Karen's farm (Ngong farm) used to be.
I am a little obsessed with the prose in this book and standing in the lush garden of the lodge, I closed my eyes and remember my heroine writing: "The air of the African highlands went to my head like wine:  I was all the time slightly drunk with it, and the joy of these months was indescribable."
Karen tells about her days on Ngong farm that makes your heart ache for the open plains. 
Unfortunately, she was forced to leave and over time the plains gave way to the building blocks of Nairobi.
I remember how she describes getting letters from her servants back on the farm that "came to me in a strange, unreal way, and are more like shadows, or mirages, than like news of reality."  They could not write and had to rely on the "professional letter writers" who also knew precious little English but tried to show off their skills, making the letters difficult to decipher.  Sometimes however, their message came out more beautiful than even Shakespeare could have phrased it.  On one of the dirty little sheets of paper her African cook wrote:  "We do not think of you, that you can ever forget us."

My beloved friend, today I send you a cheep postcard, bought from the stationary dukka on Kimweri Road and on it I simply write:
"I do not think of you, that you can ever forget me"...


Friday, November 12, 2010

Cold Lemon Papaya Soup

Oh, my soul. I asked my dada (cleaning lady, fairy, nanny, cook....) to prepare some peas, rice and chicken for Moo and myself yesterday.

I came back and had the most delicious meal in a LONG time. I was really expecting, boring old peas and rice, with proper fried chicken ( I even tried to tell her, NO MAFUTA (oil) just KIDOGO olive oil (a little bit!)

We were pleasantly surprised when the meal consisted of: cardamom - and might I add perfectly fluffy - brown basmati rice with coconut peas and a Swahili Chicken Curry, with the most exquisite spices. WOW. I should ask her to cook more often!

                                                                                   (Google Images)      

So I thought I'd go through one of my many Swahili cookbooks and find this recipe for the peas so that I could share this with you, but alas, nothing. (will have to wait for that!)
So I chose a recipe I found in the "Swahili Kitchen" cookbook written and photographed by Javed Jafferji and Elie Losleben, my mouth just watered when I read through it! Enjoy with a cold glass of white wine on a warm, tropical afternoon....

Cold Lemon Papaya Soup

1 large ripe papaya
1 cup lime or lemon juice
1 cup orange juice
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp powdered ginger
1/2 tsp chilli powder (or half a small fresh chilli finely chopped)
Black Pepper and salt
Chopped fresh coriander and croutons to garnish

Mix all the ingredients in a blender until smooth. Chill and serve topped with chopped fresh coriander and croutons!

Happy Cooking!

~desert rose~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Papa Shillingi

My new favourite fish...the whale shark...

"Known as a deity in a Vietnamese culture, the whale shark is called "Ca Ong", which literally translates as "Sir Fish".

In Mexico, and throughout much of Latin America, the whale shark is known as "pez dama" or "domino" for its distinctive patterns of spots. However, they go by "Sapodilla Tom" in Belize due to the regularity of sightings near the Sapodilla Cayes on the Belize Barrier Reef.

In Africa, the names for the whale shark are very evocative: "papa shillingi" in Kenya came from the myth that God threw shillings upon the shark which are now its spots.

In Madagascar the name is "marokintana" meaning "many stars".

Javanese also reference the stars by calling it "geger lintang," meaning "stars in the back"."

"Many stars"...isn't that a lovely name for a fish?! ;-)


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sharks, Whale sharks and Whales

Life under the turquoise water of the ocean is a newly discovered wonder to me. Since I hesitantly fell backward off the boot for my first open water scuba dive I have marveled at this new world through the haze of my oxygen bubbles. There for it was with great excitement that I packed my camouflage backpack for a trip to marvelous Mafia.

The above mentioned is an untouched little island off the coast of Dar that boast a magnificent marine park. In fact, the dive sites around this island are world renowned and I could not wait to proudly put my brand new scuba license to the test! And the promise of spectacular diving is only half of it. With great anticipation I logged onto the website of the lodge everyday weeks before to see of news of whale sharks. These magnificent fish could arrive any time from the beginning of October, but they decided to tease us and it was only three days before our expected departure that the website eagerly exclaimed – “they have arrive”! I could hardly sleep I was so excited!

My friend Joey and I stayed at a lovely quaint lodge (Butiama - check it out, I can highly recommend them) but spent very little time in our colourful room. First stop on Friday was the Mafia Marina Park for two dive sessions. I could never have anticipated the sight that awaited me as soon as I equalized my way down to the bottom of the ocean. There were fish EVERYWHERE! I squealed with excitement into my regulator. I wish I was more artistically inclined, then I could draw all of this for you, for my bumbling s cannot begin to describe the coral, the fish, shy garden eels, massive scary looking ones, the gigantic lobsters, the lovely lace-like cowry shells, the luminous sea snails. Joey said at one stage he looked around to see if I was coming and he saw me just spinning around and around like a planet. I simply could not believe the underwater world around me. My favourite, without a doubt was the turtle we chilled with! They are so big and awkward looking and yet so graceful under water. I just wanted to hug it and take it home with me! “Awesome duuuuuuude”!

Saturday morning I could not wait to get on the boat and go and find me some whale sharks! But alas, the giant fish were nowhere to be seen. Hardly able to hide our disappointment we opted for some snorkeling instead. But again I could not get enough of the coral and all the fish! And I love the freedom of movement that snorkeling allows! We dived and dipped and had a great time! At one stage our guide instructed us to go under the water, hold our breath and listen…humpback whales calling to each other…incredible…The rest of the day was spent kayaking, strolling along the beach and lazing around reading our books. Pure bliss.

Sunday morning was our last chance to find the whale sharks. The manager at the lodge had by now all ready warned us that we were probably a bit early and they come and go still this time of year. She did not want us to leave the island disappointed and tried to manage our high expectations. But Joey sang at breakfast “I have a feeling”…and the whale sharks came out to play! When the huge speckled fin broke through the water hardly 2m from the boat I had my doubts, but when Ali shouted “JUMP” I jumped and swallowed a mouth of saltwater as the gigantic fish brushed past me. It was frightening and unbelievably exhilarating at once! I was still recovering from my first encounter when the whale shark turned around and headed back towards us with a giant flat mouth sucking air, plankton and water. My first impulse was to head to the safety of the boat, but Ali grabbed my arm and started swimming straight towards the big guy. And then the whale shark sank underneath me, I ducked the massive dorsal fin and swam alongside him/her looking straight into the eye of the beautiful creature. I could see the hundreds of little brave yellow fish hovering just in front of the massive mouth feeding of the plankton that escape the black throat of the whale shark.

We spent the next two and a half hours swimming with 6 whale sharks. At one stage I had two on each side of me within arm’s reach. The moments I was not worried about being squashed to death I was absolutely amazed by it all. By far some of the most indescribable hours of my life! I have experienced so many wonderful things since moving to Tanzania, but it has been in nature where I have been truly touched by a sense of something Bigger than us mere humans. Swimming with the whale sharks of Mafia was indeed a spiritual experience in a time it was much needed. The mysteries ways…

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

"Street Level" Exhibition by Sarah Markes

Graphic designer and illustrator Sarah Markes is holding an exhibition of her beautiful graphic prints at the Alliance Francaise this month. Many of us are familiar with the vibrant street and people scenes, and we now have the opportunity to view and buy the original drawings and paintings (I've been saving!)

I have collected many of the authentically 'Dar' sketches that are now at home in South Africa waiting to be framed, while Andizi's colourful collection is displayed around her room. When my dearest Pop came to visit from SA a month ago I bought her a heap as a keepsakes for everything that she had seen and experienced in this city, as the prints make great gifts (especially for inspiring fellow designers)!

The full range of the prints are also available at the green room, Slipway.

See you all at the exhibition!