Dice indecisions in Addis, Ethiopia
Hanna in playing dice in Ethopia with her bestie. Photo: Hanna Haile
THE first day I spent with Isaac, I told my father of the adventure I had. I tried to explain as best I could to a semi-conservative Ethiopian father what dice traveling could look like. He heard me out and asked in his bemused tone, “And then what?”
Well… I didn’t know exactly “then what?” couldn’t that just be it?
In my excitement for the afternoon of indulgence that had passed, I knew there would be no words to explain this journey Isaac was on to the way my father lived his life. But the intriguing life of dice had already got inside my blood.
After many day back in Addis Ababa (Capital of Ethiopia), I was still high from my adventures in Thailand. I had the dice in my hands (generously gifted by Isaac) and I was ready to live a life of dicing.
Unable to decide on what to roll on first, I was happy when an opportunity to dice presented itself. My colleague needed me to let him know how much I would charge to write an article. I hate quoting prices and negotiations, so this was an opportunity for dicing. I had thought about what my offer would be for days, e-mailed a colleague who was of no help, talked to friends, but was nowhere near making a decision. So, I stood in the commercial center of rainy Addis underneath my apple green striped umbrella, held in one hand, and a red die in another when I decided to roll.
The dice that set me free from the dilemma.
I was smiling end to end as I texted my colleague to let him know I had come to a decision that plagued me all week.
But after that one decision, I couldn’t roll. It was a struggle of rolls and indecisions. My rebellious nature was at its peak when on a Friday night I rolled to go eat one place but went to another, then the dice chose a place for a drink and yet again I went another way.
A sense of rebellion seemed to consume me.
After every roll I found myself thinking: “stupid dice can’t tell me what to do! Who does this die think it is?!”
I woke up Sunday with a new zeal to keep rolling. And yet I found myself rolling to watch a show instead of having breakfast, but again decided against it all to sit here and write for the blog.
‘Writing for the blog’ wasn’t even among the six options I put down. Had I reached peak rebellion? I felt like if this dice had a face it would roll its eyes at me and let me know I was acting like a pouty six year old and that at the age of 25, it just wasn’t cute. So again I asked Isaac for a pass to post a blog and sat there reflecting about my life. I was feeling a little like I was going through a self-reflective therapy session. Who knew a cube would be the force that would have me sit on my bed on a Sunday morning reflecting on my life choices. Seriously, who does this die think it is?
So, after about a week of no dicing and internal battle of fighting the dice and my own demons, week two rolled about and I was ready to challenge myself once more! I convinced Jona, my bestie; my ride or die dude (pun intended), with no effort at all to dice with me. Jona was on his week off from working at a hospital (yeah, he’s a doctor), he was ready to get reckless with dicing.
Ain't nobody say the dice life is an easy life. Photo: Hanna Haile
And so we let the die decide every step of our afternoon. We drove to the city center to enjoy some WiFi. Unfortunately, our WiFi endeavor failed as WiFi at times feels like a luxury in Addis. So, we tried to roll again for a more productive path. We diced to finish up our poetry writing, which we did.
Soon it became obvious that the dice and us had many plans ahead. Jona and I masqueraded as each other and texted people we each thought the other should date. Which led to Jona texting a young man for me with “You seem big, want to meet?” needless to say, I was beyond mortified. But even more mortifying was that the gentleman did want to meet!
The day ended with the dice deciding where we were to have dinner and it did not roll us to any place disappointing. We had an amazing pizza at Villa Verde, but the dice was unsuccessful in picking dessert, as the place it had picked was closed. Or maybe the die chose right as Jona and I had way too much to eat anyways.
The day of dicing with Jona was one of the best days we had both spent in Addis. The freedom in letting go of mediocre choices was extremely liberating.
Since that day, the dice have picked where my friends and I watched the final of the Euro-cup, picked a few meals and places for me to hang out. But every day I find that I use the dice less and less, constantly fighting with my inner rebellious self. But everywhere I go, the dice goes with me, because I know that a decision can literally be "a roll away", which is comforting.
Hanna Haile is an Ethiopian writer, poet, film maker and social worker. She loves to travel, meeting new people and have conversations about making the world a brighter place.