An interesting day. I had arranged to meet Pal in the tourist office to take a guided tour of Haut Ville, the oldest, highest part of the town around the Queen's Palace which I have visited half a dozen times since I've been but this was different. I was one of a party of about 35 on two air-conditioned minibuses supplied with a bottle of water and two historian guides. It became obvious that this was no ordinary tour when the others referred to each other as 'Minister', 'Secretary-General', 'Madame President' etc. No idea who they were but clearly important.
I became embarrassed when one of the guides sat next to me and said 'I will translate for you into English' so said that I could understand enough French to cope. When we stopped and got off the bus he came and asked me if I had understood I answered about 60% Lord fForde-Smythe or her Malagasy said "That's much more than they poor lady next to me who has understood nothing because she only speaks Malagasy." Huge embarrassment so for the rest of the trip the guide spoke in Malagasy then translated so everyone could hear just for me. I was glad when we returned to Tana centre and got off outside a posh hotel where we were ushered in to hear a 10 minute speech in Malagasy (didn't understand a word) and watch some traditional singers and dancers. While they were performing I read some huge banners in French which explained that I was jointly celebrating World Tourism Day and 400th anniversary of the founding of Antananarivo. I also happened to notice that huge numbers of small dishes bearing the most delicate collection of savoury creations were being delivered to tables draped in pure white linen. Very interested. Then followed 3 more 10 minute speeches during which I and the guy next two me sat down, He asked me what agency I represented and I said none. He looked amazed and asked me again in French. Same answer, in French. More amazed and started discussing me with the guy the other side who also began looking at me very suspiciously. Fortunately Pal, all dressed up in traditional finery came and spoke to me which equally surprised my tow detractors who were very pleased to have their hands shaken by Pal. One up to me.
Unfortunately Malagasies do like their speechifying so I had to leave during a speech without tasting the food or drink. (I had noticed water, cola, beer and for the first time since arriving wine joining the aforementioned goodies on the now groaning tables.) I had an appointment with Ny Andry at the Foreign Ministry.
This was to discuss what teaching I could offer their staff. Met Assistant Secretary (Jessie!) as Mr Solofo is at the UN in New York for the week. Long story short: I told her about my new commitments at MoY including 46 new students. She laughed and said that was far too many for one class but she has 70 signed up in 5 days to "practice their English. I said she could use me however she wanted but only on Mondays between 9 and 2 and on Fridays between 9 and 2 and I want about 10 per group who must be of about the same ability. (Hers was very good indeed). She said that most would be very basic, that she will arrange it and get back to me when Mr Solofo returns on 4th.
In the taxi back I arranged, again, to look at apartments with Ny Andry next Saturday am. Back at MoY I met with Raj to finalise the new groups (groups of 10/11 for half an hour twice a week starting next Monday and Wednesday) then had two one-on-one sessions about Malagasy New Year - when to dig up your rellies and re-clothe them - and about the best way of getting around Tana by minibus.
Shopping for salad on the way home, another first, and now I'm going to collapse. Goodnight.