I usually don’t get sucked into these chain-response posts, but I’ve been enjoying reading the random items friends have written about themselves and started thinking that perhaps I was a little bit interesting too.

1. I am Australian, but I left Australia for Africa when I was three years old and returned for six weeks in 1985, six months in 1988 and a year and a half in 1996. I returned again in 1999 and have lived here every since. That gives me an Australian experience equivalent to that of a fourteen year old.

2. When I was four years old, I used to collect giant caterpillars and scorpions with my Nigerien friends. Then I went to boarding school and forgot all my Hausa.

3. I was sent away to boarding school when I was six. I spent all twelve schooling years at two boarding schools.

4. I would rather have been at boarding school than at home.

5. When I was 16, my dad bought me a one-way plane ticket from Abidjan to Niamey and gave me 100,000 cfa spending money. I travelled around Niger and then back home via Burkina Faso on bush taxis and the train.

6. On the RAN train from Bobo Dioulasso to Bouaké, my seatmates were friendly gin-smugglers. They jumped off the train at one stop in Burkina Faso and filled their duffel bags with bottles of gin and other spirits. The Africans then tucked their bags under my legs so the bags wouldn’t get searched at the Ivoirien border.

7. I hate looking at photos of myself from high school. It brings back the feelings of despair and longing that I felt at that age.

8. When I was 18, I appeared on a TV commercial in Côte d’Ivoire for English-language courses that I was teaching. The commercial was a paid spot, an advertorial where the talk-show host asked me some questions. It was fascinating to see inner workings of the television station in Bouaké, and I was really chuffed later when some African friends told me they had seen me on télé!

9. I met my husband two weeks after arriving in Australia in 1996. We married exactly one year later because my parents insisted we know each other one year before the wedding.

10. I can touch my nose with tongue and wiggle my ears at will. I can also spontaneously burp the alphabet. These are very important skills when you’re eight years old.

11. I have had malaria more times than I can keep track of (and I am not exaggerating). Maybe fifty times.

12. I am desperate to have another baby. Now.

13. My comfort food is peanut butter on slightly-green bananas. I also like to eat spoonfuls of white sugar mixed with kool-aid.

14. I need to have matching things in my house. Glasses, cutlery, plates, clothes pegs, etc. They must be uniform.

15. I plan gardens in my head to amuse myself.

16. I’ve changed my name. David has changed his name (twice). And we’ve changed Aisha’s, Brioni’s and Calista’s names too. So we’re a certified schizophrenic family. So?