06 February 2016

Mma Ramotswe, bush tea, and contemplation

Alexander McCall Smith is a rather prolific writer, who loves Africa, particularly southern African countries and cultures.  McCall Smith has related some of the oral folk tales of the region in written format, and I do think he performs his own readings of his work for the audio versions for Recorded Books.  He's also written multiple series, most have elements of humor.  He makes his homes in Scotland as well as Botswana.  In addition, McCall Smith is a medical and legal profession and has written texts in both fields.

One of his ongoing series is The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, set in Botswana, featuring Mma Precious Ramotswe.  When I first heard of this series, I actually listened to an audio book of some title further in the series, because the description on the back of the CD case didn't say that it was part of a series.  I was crafting, most likely crochet, while listening to it; and one of the first things that stood out to me was the slower pace, the more contemplative and reflective nature of the principle characters, and I felt I could breathe freer, more easily.  I began to listen more closely, and to not multitask, but to be more deliberate in my own movements.  I enjoyed the audio book more thoroughly than I'd thought possible.

The characters did something often that made little sense to me at the time, but upon reflection makes much sense.  They drank lots of hot tea, even in the intense heat.  I drink lots of hot tea, but I also drink lots of cooler tea.  However, it makes sense to drink hot liquids in intense heat.  When you drink iced drinks in the summer, you create more of a temperature disparity between your core body heat and the heat of the environment around you.  This can make the day's heat feel intolerable to you.  However, drinking hot liquid keeps your inner core temperature warm as well and you won't mind the day's heat as much.  Try it sometime and see what you think.

I was curious too, about this bush tea they drank so frequently.  Since I had just began to drink rooibos, or red tea, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this red tea, or rooibos, was the same sort of tea that the author probably had his characters drinking.  Rooibos is very popular in southern Africa; which would make sense, since that is where Botswana is.

Recently, I found the first five books in the series for sale at the First Monday sale, at our local public library for three dollars.  I've been mooching the others from BookMooch, and have the first eight now.  Last week, I began to read the first book and enjoyed it immensely.  I've been reading more about Botswana, and other nearby countries; because I am curious about the culture ~~ the language, the food, the customs, their attitudes regarding family, women, men, elderly, marriage, education, etc.  Their traditions within the arts, the animals and insects that are common and part of daily life, their homes and clothing are very different from ours and each of those things help to shape their thinking and way of life.

By opening this one book, I've opened a whole new world that didn't previously exist for me.  This is the beauty of reading, the wonders of learning, and the absolute coolness of thirst.  If you've not read these and would like to, your public library might carry them.  If not, they can probably borrow them from another library for you.  Check it out!

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely understand, and its kind of funny, because I've been planning my next post (on my blog) and its also about reading. Great minds - ya know!


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