Sunday, July 30, 2006

Gaborone, Botswana: Journaling, reading and gardening

This was a very quiet day. I thought about all the things I could do including going to Mokulodi Game Reserve especially since all the catering students are working there this weekend at a function but I was loving the quiet time so I decided not to go anywhere. I worked on Kathy’s plants, deadheading flowers and digging and tending to the herb garden. The pots look great now. They needed some trimming and it’s been such a busy time for her, that I didn’t mind doing it. Her gardener went back to Mozambique to visit family so I got to do his work which I loved. The soil here is red – similar to the soil in the country areas of Guyana especially Dekendren where my sister Bena and my brother Karran used to spend our holidays with my aunts and uncles. The clay turns almost to brick if it’s left alone. There was a big heap of leaves in the backyard but I don’t know if it’s a compost pile or it’s going to be burnt. They do that a lot here – burn the leaves and other rubbish even though they have garbage pick-up twice a week. I’m thinking of my two compost bins at home and wondering if my flowers are doing okay and if the bins need emptying.

I watered some of the plants and then remembered Kathy saying that last year there was a drought and they were banned from watering the lawns so the grass died. She was explaining that many people used grey water (water used to wash dishes and bathing) to water the lawns. I think that’s a great idea. The pipes from the sinks drain outside into a waste water receptacle so it would be easy to collect the water before it goes down the final drain. That was a new thing for me – seeing the recycled water used to water the lawn. We should do that in Canada. I suppose when you live in a country that is mostly desert, you learn to appreciate the value of water. The people of Botswana even name their currency after that. Pula (their dollar) means “rain” and thebe (cents) means “raindrop”.

In the afternoon, some teak furniture that Kathy ordered from Zimbabwe arrived – a coffee table and two end tables. They were a different colour from the teak furniture she already has which is a nice shade of brownish red. I asked Chris the delivery person how come it was different and he said that the light colour of the furniture eventually oxidized and turns the beautiful shade of red. The end tables were quite nice and the slatted tops folded in half (like a TV table) to be stored. I asked him if he had any more and he said he had two smaller ones. I asked him to bring them and I bought them. I have no idea how I’ll take it back to Canada but I’ll find a way. The tables were $30 each for solid teak. I would probably pay at least 3 times more for it in Canada.

This is interesting but has nothing to do with anything. I saw a store called IKEA and for anyone living in Canada, or at least in some parts of Canada, the name IKEA is synonymous with unusually designed contemporary furniture at a decent price and many students shop there to furnish their homes . Well imagine my surprise when I went into the store and it was a sort of corner store with no furniture. I asked the owner how come he was using the name IKEA when it was not a real IKEA store and he smiled and said that he knew the name was popular so he decided to use it. I even saw a ROOTS store that had nothing to do with ROOTS Canada.

It got me to thinking about appropriating someone’s name and calling it your own. Are there international laws that prohibit that? What could the real IKEA do if they know that another business is using their name for marketing purposes? The sign was exactly the same – down to the colours. What about designer knock-offs? They are everywhere. I saw them in China, Hong Kong, Brazil, Mexico and even Puerto Rico which I thought might not be allowed. Anyway, it was just an observation.

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