As far as I can tell, the standard lodging for an expat of any financial means in Kigali is much the same as mine: a room rented in a 3-4 bedroom house on a gated property with a couple housestaff. For most the living arrangement is a sharp departure from home, and ironically, it is in particular ways posher.
My living situation is a bit peculiar because I rent a room from American couple who live several hours away in southwest Rwanda where they are country directors for an NGO. The Kigali house serves, inter alia, as a traveler’s rest for any of the NGO staff who are in town. Thus, even when I’m the only tenant (as was the case for the past few weeks), the house is often not mine alone.
Much like a good conversationalist, every house in Rwanda has its idiosyncrasies, and it takes some time to figure out what they are. Overnight guests by their nature don’t know about nor have the incentive to deal with the house’s vagaries, which can be frustrating for longer lodgers like me. In an attempt to correct this problem, I blew the dust off my copy of The Transient Bible and posted a few relevant passages around the house. The text is an amalgam of the King James, Spurgeon, and a touch of The Music Man:
In this house are many rooms: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a bathroom for you, at the other end of the hall.
And if I go and prepare a bathroom for you, I will use mine, and thou thine; that where I am, ye are not there.
Man’s law thou mayest break, and bear the penalty; but if thou breakest this the penalty is too heavy for thy soul to endure; it will sink thee like a mill-stone lower than the lowest hell. Take heed of this command above every other, to tremble at it and obey it, for it is “the first commandment.”
Thy curtain thou shalt use, lest thy tub runneth over.
I the LORD thy God didst cleave the fountain and the flood: I driedst up mighty rivers. Thou wilt do the same, if thou dost not take care tightly to turn off the kitchen faucet’s flow.
My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and have forsaken to jiggle the toilet handle, leaving the cleansing waters ceaselessly to drain and the cistern empty on a Saturday night.
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert hot.
The same goeth for thy bath water: if thou desireth that thy water warmeth thy soul, as is my command, then thou shalt plug in the pump underneath the water tank outside.
If my commandment thou dost not obey, and becometh lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
Many of these passages do lose their relevance if your water goes out for the weekend, he added grumpily.
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