Posts Tagged hockey

Home and Away: Losing direction of the home ice/pitch advantage

No, despite the title this is not really a post about sports. With that out of the way, let’s talk a bit about sports.

The NHL season has started up again back in Canada and I am again faced with the fact that I care less and less about my favourite childhood hockey team – the Toronto Maple Leafs. Go Jets Go?  I am transitioning from being a fairly big NHL hockey fan (though I will always love the WJC, Olympics, and other major tournies) to being a football (soccer –henceforth called football – wow, see how legit I am??) fan. It’s one more sign of being at ‘home’ in a new place I guess. I have always been a footie fan since living in Northern Ireland in 2004 and deciding to make Liverpool my team but it’s a lot more difficult to be a serious fan in Canada. Matches start at 10am on Saturday morning (if you can find somewhere showing the game), little coverage in the press, and fewer people to talk about it with. Now it is reversed and I am completely surrounded by football over here – proper kick-off times, games on every TV in the bar, lots of press coverage, playing football on the weeknights, and the same thing everyone is talking about at work or in the streets the next day.

Appropriately for this, an unfortunately high percentage of my wardrobe here in Tanzania (I argue it’s the most comfortable thing you can wear in this humidity – but others may just see it as a weakness in fashion sense) is made up of football jerseys (Barcelona, Liverpool, Ghana, Bayern Munich, Argentina, Celtic, Toronto FC, Spain, Valhalla FC…). I guess this is all just adapting to one’s surroundings – that and it’s a pretty damn lonely hockey conversation in Dar es Salaam.

It’s been about 5 weeks now since I’ve been back in Tanzania. Did I tell you I was returning to Tanzania again? Yep, I’ve returned for Year 3 (standard entry-level CBA contract you know) – the last of the three original “Canadians”/musketeers left on this side of the equator. The first year was for the adventure, the second for good career move (and more of the first), the third is for a little of both of those…but let’s be honest, it’s mainly for the girl. Maybe this guy is finally getting his priorities straight??? ;) Looking forward to the year ahead!

Speaking of timelines, it has also been 3 months since last blog update which isn’t exactly keeping my promise in this post of doing a better job and promising exciting photos and stories (seriously though, the mountain gorilla one is pretty cool – you should probably harass me until I finally put it up). If it’s any consolation, most of my posts last year were about 30 minute reads and the size 3-5 regular blog posts – so if you average that out I didn’t do too bad…. The last weeks in Tanzania in August were hectic, the time spent back home sure felt hectic, and the first weeks here I have hardly hard time to sit and think let alone write (probably I just need to manage my time better…). But that is just how life is, busy, deadlines, other priorities, and time continues to fly on by.

There is also something to be said for things just becoming more “normal” after a few years and you find fewer reasons/inspirations to write about. We have two new Canadian interns here in the MEDA Tanzania office this year and I enjoy seeing them here and thinking back to my first months adjusting with eyes wide open and a zest for exploring anything and everything new.  In one of my very first posts on this blog I wrote of my experience in the first month that “the ordinary has just become extraordinary on a more regular basis”. I think that there was certainly some truth in this and perhaps I have just started to see things once again more through that ‘ordinary’ lens. A place like this can certainly offer plenty of the extraordinary but it can also wear you down fast until sometimes you just want to stay in on the long weekend and watch a complete HBO series on your laptop. At first I feel a bit sad when I think about that – but then again I think it is entirely normal. What can be a life-changing experience or a heart-stopping landscape for one is another person’s daily life or view from the backyard and it works both ways my friend. We all learn to get comfortable as natural coping mechanism and sometimes that even includes getting a little bit jaded with things and there is nothing wrong with that.

The original purpose of this blog post when I started writing it (only took me 791 words to get here) was to talk about the feeling and definition of what is “home” when you live abroad for a period of time. I found myself interchanging the two places defined as home quite a bit when I talked to people before, during and after my recent trip to Canada. Was it that I was returning home for a one month visit or was it that I would be returning back home to Tanzania after this short visit in Canada? From where I came or from where I currently am? I still don’t really have the answer. Maybe it is a bit too scary to call one place home and still know you will likely be moving on from it soon enough and might again become a stranger in a new place. You make many new friends and forge a new life while away but at the same time almost everyone still has the friends and ties from where they came. You need to try to make the place where you are now as much of a home as possible and I have been very fortunate in that regard – but of course all the while keeping close to your original home. The interesting part is when you feel comfortable and happy and yet not quite completely…for lack of a better term, at home when in either place but still somewhere in-between. For now, it can often feel as though I simultaneously have two homes – and at the very same time – not really one at all.



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“We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger”… an account of the 2010 golden goal from Tanzania.

Canada, never in my life before have I so badly wanted to your lukewarm Molson Canadian beer spilled all over me while in the midst of the hugs and chaos of a rowdy national celebration. I had a different experience with the golden goal here in Dar es Salaam, but it had the same effect…going to bed that night feeling so proud. Let me tell you how it went down in Dar…

There's no place like home, there's no place like home

Gord Downie of the unapologetically Canadian band Tragically Hip perfectly captured the “where where you when Paul Henderson scored the goal…” moment that defined a generation of hockey fans and Canadians who were old enough to witness the 1972 Summit Series. The song Fireworks by the Tragically Hip from which the lyrics of this blog post title are taken is a bit more of a love song than a hockey song but it’s the way those time period references capture Henderson’s series winning goal that I always loved.  Now we have our new golden goal moment thanks to the 2010 Vancouver Olympics but I think the hockey verses above still ring true for what went down Sunday afternoon. Pamoja Canada.

In Dar es Salaam, Tanzania we three Canadians roommates gathered and even invited some American friends to come along just because a little competitive rivalry makes any game a bit more fun to watch. With the 11 hour time difference to Vancouver it made it difficult to see any of the 2010 Games live so we weren’t guaranteed we could find it but I’d seen some Olympic highlights on the satellite feeds in Dar es Salaam’s Irish Pub so that was our best bet. At 11:15pm local time (no need to arrive at the pub 4 hours early like the stories I hear from Canada) we rushed into the Irish Pub and searched in vain through the channels for the game. Alas, DST satellite here in Africa didn’t get the NBC feed (desperate times call for desperate measures… you can always watch the game on mute I suppose). We stuck around awhile watching when some highlights came on in hopes they would show updates from the game but no luck. Phone calls home and text messages provided the updates…1-0 Canada!, 2-0 Canada, USA scores..2-1 Canada….at 1am the highlights show is done and we decide to head home to try to follow score updates online.

An expletive laden SMS comes through informing us of the USA’s tying goal in the final minute. It’s going to overtime in the Olympic gold medal game and here we are hitting the refresh button on a website. There are the people and things that I miss very much over here, but I’m not generally someone who gets homesick easily. That said, I really, really wished I was back home to be a part of this. Our internet connection via a USB stick is slow and can’t handle a lot of the crazy graphics, advertisements, game trackers, and videos on the official site so we use some other website but the updates still come through slow and the screen doesn’t tell us what is happening…only 2-2 in overtime every refresh.

Then there’s a ping of a new SMS message and we know something has happened. The screen refreshes and we see 3-2 Canada but I don’t really react until Jer reads out the text seconds later…CROSBY IS GOLDEN. CANADA WINS.

...I think this means we just won gold

The beer spilled in the up and down jumping at the moment of joy was missing as was the sounds of car horns erupting in the streets around us. There were no random strangers to hug in joy and no crazy costumes or flags to run out into the street waving. Just some fist pumps and sighs of relief before heading off to bed. All in all, it was still cool to be a part of it, although not the way I would have wanted, but in our own forced and unique way.

I read this article the next day on TSN saying that the game was the most watched television event in Canadian history. No real surprise there, but it was estimated that 80% of the country watched some part of the gold medal game! That is a pretty mind boggling percentage, I mean we can’t manage to get a 60% turnout our federal elections; to pull 80% of a nations population together for one event speaks volumes about how Canadians rallied together around these Olympic games and around this hockey team. I would be interested to find out if there has been any other sporting event in the world that has ever garnered such a high national participation rate…(I know it was a game that people watched on tv, so perhaps participation is a strong word, but I have no doubt that everyone who was there watching felt a part of that game and so the passive watched or viewed is perhaps an equally inadequate way to describe it).

“If there’s a goal that everyone remembers, it was back in ol’ 72

We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger

and all I remember is sitting beside you”

When Sidney Crosby yelled for the puck and took that give and go pass from Iginla out of the corner, he had a whole nation that was calling for the puck with him. When he felt it hit his stick, we all squeezed the stick and when he released the shot, he had 26.5 million Canadians pulling that trigger. I read afterwards that Crosby said he just shot the puck before he had a chance to even look up. It doesn’t surprise me that it went in. He had the whole country watching and willing that puck into the net.

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