We completed 5 visits to teams that have participated in our leadership program in and around Tana. Each visit gave me more insight into what actually happened while I was studying words on paper sent to me via email about these teams. I now understand how incomplete and misleading those words were. Words on paper have no context. And this is what I was now getting. There is no shortcut or alternative to ‘seeing (and listening) for oneself. The words on paper had led to judgements, and thoughts about mediocrity, no good value for money and a sense of futility.
The transformations that my, now ex-, colleague, and her two consultants had brought about were quite amazing, giving the very imperfect preparation and support they got from me. I was astonished how people had taken the ideas and integrated them, not just in their work life, passed them on to colleagues, but also took them home. I was to see much more of that in the remote rural areas we traveled later, where work and home life are not that separated.
The night before my departure, with two other colleagues, we celebrated the 29th anniversary of a young colleague who made her first trip to Madagascar, at a new stylish restaurant (the Urban hotel) in the upper city. We had cider sangria cocktails, I had my first foie gras (in spite of all my ecological and health objections to the stuff), we finished a nice wine and so helped her enter her 30th year.
The next morning I woke at 5:30, was ready to be picked up at 6:15, was picked up at 6:45 and then went all over Tana to pick up the rest of the team. Everyone but me is in a training outfit – fleece tops and bottoms with speed stripes, though speed is one thing we will not have. Our planned departure from the city limits didn’t happen until 2 hours later because of a small ‘contretemps’ as the French call something gone awry. A driver of the rental car company had run the car assigned to us over a rock and so the wheels had to be re-aligned. This is called ‘paralellisme.’ For the longest time I had no idea what they were talking about. I thought another car would drive parallel to us and we would exchange cars.
While waiting for the paralellisme to happen we were invited to sit on a terrace above the garage noise and spray from the power cleaning which brought into focus all that is awful about city living: noisy, grease, dirt and mechanical friction.