Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Alexander McCall Smith: Tea Time for the Traditionally Built

This brand new book in the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series could not have come at a better time for me. Sorting through, giving away, selling my car – it all takes a toll. It’s a little like dying, this moving. I know I will be “resurrected” in another life, but in the meanwhile, I have so much grief, and I just stuff it away and keep going. These books are my carrots; they are my reward at the end of the day.


I have a stack of books and I am going through them like a locomotive – just chugging along.

Mma Precious Ramotswe and her totally different world in Botswana sweep me away totally. I love the sweetness of the way she thinks, her love for her country, and her tolerance. In Tea Time for the Traditionally Built, several things are going on at once, not the least of which is that she, also, must part with her dearly loved little white van, which has gone as far as it can go, and can go no further. The engine cannot be revived, not even one more time, by her dear husband, mechanic J.L.B. Matekoni.

Just in time, just when they need a new customer, comes Mr. Molofololo, the owner and manager of the Kalahari Swoopers, who hires Mma Ramotswe to find the traitor who is causing the Swoopers to lose their games.

Last, but not least, Mma Makutsi’s fiancee (she is the Assistant Detective now, remember?) Phuti Radiphuti, is being assaulted by Makutsi’s old rival from the secretarial school, Violet Sephotho, who is looking for a rich husband, and would love to steal Grace’s fiancee away, for all the worst reasons. How can plain Grace, with her big glasses and her unfortunate complexion, compete with the glamorous and seductive Violet? Can Phuti resist her wiles?

When I reached the last ten pages of the book, none of these crises had been resolved, and I thought “Oh no! How can the book end with all these loose ends out there?” but in a deft drawing together, McCall vanquishes the devils, finds simple solutions, and leaves us with Mma Ramotswe and Mma Makutsi having tea together at the President Hotel.

This book is a great way to end the day with a smile on your face. 🙂 I bought this book for $21 in a bookstore, but Amazon has it for $14.37 plus shipping. I don’t buy a lot of hardcover books, but this one was worth every penny.

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Botswana, Character, Communication, Community, Crime, Cultural, Detective/Mystery, Family Issues, Fiction, Financial Issues, Food, Interconnected, Living Conditions, Marriage, Relationships | 10 Comments

Sorry Jesus, I’m Packing Boxes

Our priest in the Anglican congregation is a truly inspired preacher. He knows how to get your attention, and then he tells you something really important.

Yesterday (Yes! I was listening!) he was talking about the importance in our spiritual life of community. While, in Christianity, we have a tradition of worshiping privately and in solitude, one of the things Jesus said over and over was to take care of one another, “feed my sheep”, that we are to be known to the outside world by the way we love one another, and the practice of that kind of brotherly love must be done in community. He gave one example, marriage, as an opportunity to show God how much you love him by loving and taking good care of your spouse, that we are to serve him by loving one another.

Pastor Andy gave the example of the Alcoholics Anonymous community, where they have buddies who can be called any time, night or day, when a crisis comes up and there is temptation to drink. He was saying we all need someone we know we can count on, and encouraged us to find spiritual buddies.

On the way out the door, I heard him ask the guy in front of me if he had plans for lunch. When we shook hands, he asked me the same question, and I laughed and said “Yes, I am packing boxes.”

As I was on my way home, it was like that old light bulb went on in my head and I thought “Oh no! That was a test!” Andy was just telling us we need to be part of a fellowship, we need to visit with one another in relaxed conditions, we need to know one another so we know who we can count on! It was as if Jesus invited me to lunch, and I said ‘Sorry, I have to pack boxes!’


So I started beating myself up (in my mind) about flunking. The good thing is, as you pack boxes, it’s kind of like exercise, once you have two or three done, good endorphins kick in and you feel better about things. Eating lunch helps, too.

Andy Thompson, at the Anglican Church – St. Paul’s Kuwait – is smart, committed and hard working, and also a lot of fun. This post is for you, Andy, to show you that your sermons really do make a difference, even if you don’t see it, and that we take what you say home with us, and mull it over, and, hopefully, like a tiny seed planted, if we nurture it, it will bear fruit. 🙂

May 16, 2009 Posted by | Character, Community, ExPat Life, Interconnected, Kuwait, Marriage, Social Issues, Spiritual | 3 Comments