I’m Gisella. Made in Italy, living in Tanzania, loving Japan.

The World. From a blonde's point of view

Tanzania, three years later. The importance of gaining respect on the field (or better to say... on the carpet?!)

21 July 2013 - 10:17am -- gisella
Gisella aka PinkCoffee, 3 years in Tanzania

Not a secret. Sometime, some Italian bloggers ask me questions about the things I do. Last time it has been my friend Lauryn, for her brand new My Place in the World. She asked me stories, and I re-discovered my storyteller's inspiration. The lucky side of my life is that actually I have lot of stories to tell - traveling, trying, making experiments... this is the beginning of my personal Odissey, and I love it. Here you are the translation of the original Italian article.

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So... some mornings ago I realized that three years are gone since that memorable (terrible!) July 4th 2010, when I landed in Dar Es Salaam carrying my whole life in a pink trolley and fighting against my such confused head.

Of course. I was that kind of person who "escaped" suddenly, gone on the other side of the World, without a job and not exactly aware about what I'd been able to do. I didn't know how to answer the question "What are you doing here?". And the useless reply to the other one "What can you do?" was just "I can do websites and I worked in a fashion magazine. But I'm slow to write in English".

These days Dar Es Salaam is considered the new Silicon Valley by a number of people, everybody like start-ups, and if you're kind of geek with some good ideas... this can be the right place. Three years ago it was a bit different - just a few eccentric people were starting to consider a website as a serious support for their business.

On the other hand, I was just arrived and I didn't know anything. Besides, my typical attitude of "person from Torino" - mind your business, that I mind mine by myself, thank you! - wasn't an help at all. Then something happened. I caught a movement from a kids' chat on Facebook: "Mustafa is looking for a web designer"... I looked for the vacancy and I found it. Mustafa was looking for a web designer, true.

Because I'm addicted to fashion, Mustafa was one of the very few local names making sense to me, that time - he designs clothes, organizes fashion shows and invented the Swahili Fashion Week, and that was enough. Oh-my-God, I thought, now I do the crazy thing and I apply to this vacancy. Then I went to the interview. I confess that I accepted the job following curiosity more than any other reason: I wanted to see the Fashion Week from the backstage, end of the story.

Now, this is how the thing was working. The office wasn't exactly an office, but a taylor's atelier (a Tanzanian taylor's atelier). Two rooms hosting about 10 persons, most of the colleagues were people stitching clothes and things like that. There was a big carpet on the floor, and it was more comfortable than the small desk, so I used to seat on it, like a buddha in front of a laptop, and do my daily HTML. 

Brides with big families were coming everyday to try on gowns, so all the space was suddenly invaded by skirts, heels and other blunt objects crossing my vital space on every side. When an event or a fashion show was getting closer, the atelier became similar to a store before relocation. At the time of castings, the atelier was packed of models "camping" all over the places and chatting aloud the whole day.

The game was to keep zen and sort out the website for the Fashion Week (and all the others, one for each Mustafa's new idea). And at the end, it arrived!

What to say... I didn't almost sleep during that week. Maybe just some siesta in the staff room at the grand hotel, using the laptop as a pillow. I kept the rhythm with all those live updates and millions pictures every minute. Mostly I knew lot of people, any kind of people - this city is full of people, men! I even managed to broadcast the web streaming of the runways using a webcam and an USB modem - at least, till the modem gave up.

Finally, Sunday came. Somebody took me home at 7am. I was fully jet-lagged (I'm not joking) and I slept all the day.

On Monday, 8.30am, a new desk was waiting for me in an advertising agency in Dar Es Salaam. So, this is the story about my first months in Tanzania - my website for the Fashion Week lasted just the time of the event, but whatever... every adventure starts from a beginning!