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Editor: Manohar Khushalani

Copyright © 2011

Ethiopian Diary
Poverty Ridden But Still Bollywood Crazy

A Report by Ashok Vidhani

Bollywood in Ethiopia  (L)  Posters in Sweet shop             (R) Video Shop From Flickr photostream of furkanjavaid


The author is posted in Ethiopia where he has just joined. His report indicates the hope the poverty ridden population derives from Indian films - despite the language problem!

My first experience in Addis Ababa was very different from what I thought it would be. The information I got from the internet was totally different from what I experienced in last 15 days.. The poverty is beyond imagination . An engineer with 10 years experience gets 1000 Birr =75 US Dollars per month=Rs 4400. Incredible .Inflation is as high as 35% and  due to povrerty, about 70 to 75% of female population, aged between 12 to 45 years is prone to indulge in prostitution,

However, the IQ level of the  youngsters appears to be very high. The schools open only at night, because, during daytime all children earn their living and in the night they study.Majority of the kids have very high interest in academics. The day I entered my new house in Addis Ababa. A small kid of 7 years came to my house after 2 hrs of my entering and said Namaste. He had a torn book and two inch long pencil in his hand. He greeted me with a  namaste and in broken English said “A B C D school no money.” Then my driver explained to me that the boy is saying that he wants to become a big man like me but doesn’t have money to buy books and uniform - primary education is free so no fees. The school is just across the road, so next day morning I went to his school on my way to office,

Surprisingly as I reached the school I could hear music being played inside the campus and I could hear the song of Dil Wale Dlhaniya Ley Jayenge. It came to me almost as a shock. Anyway I had to meet the principal, He told me the books and uniform for the whole year will cost me Rs 560. But my curiosity about Indian Film songs being played in the school 30 minutes before school starts kept on haunting me. I inquired about it from the principal. I was informed that Sharukh Khan and Gabbar singh were  star attractions. To attract kids to school we play Hindi film songs so that they come to school in time.

Last Saturday Mother India film was being screened in the theatre, people told me that the film is running in this theatre since last 19 months. Being Saturday I purchased ticket for Paise 75 and entered to see the reaction. I could see more than 75% of the viewers weeping, being the lone Indian, they gathered around me and started asking me the story in detail. My driver interpreted and asked on my behalf if they did not understand the story THEN WHY WERE THEY WEEPING. I was told that they did not understand the language but they understood the feelings, sentiments and sorrows of the characters. .All sorts of Bollywood questions were put to me about Indian movies. The story as they understood was 95% correct. The character of Sajid Khan as Birju in the film was liked by all.


All men, women kids wish me Namaste every day morning near my house and they try to contact me so that I can tell them film story of bollywood particularly sharukh Khan, So when I come home in the evening they ask my driver to translate story . Since I don’t get time,I spare 15 minutes every day and have started telling them story of Kuch Kuch Hotahai. I am too not aware when this will end. They wait for me from 6 PM onwards till I come from factory to hear 15 min story of bollywood.


Sometimes tears run sown my cheels looking at the love and affection they shower on me, and thank god that we are better than millions in this world. The sorrows and suffering of these people are immense.Inspite of poverty they are honest , sincere,helpful and ever helping nature. At night I prayed “God we are thankful to you for giving us such comfortable and happy life”

 to be continued