TODAY'S high point is a gathering of old friends whom we met in Iran 10 years ago when I worked for U.N. agencies there. We meet at the home of a Foreign Service friend for barbecued chicken, Iranian-style rice, beer and memories. The guest of honor is an Iranian friend who is here to care for an ill child. The reunion is an emotional high for all of us. Monday
I overdo my morning piano practice and have to run for the bus. We live in Reston and I use the Metro commuter bus to get to my office at the Worl Bank. I make it with only seconds to spare, get a seat and try to read a financing agreement of the Frend Fonds d'Aide et de Cooperation. Impossible. Two ladies behind me chatter loudly about neighbors, trash, cluster by-laws, etc. I pull The New Yorker out of my briefcase and lose myself in a story.
In my office, I get myself organized for the week. The main item is the negotiation of credits to Benin and Togo for a joint power engineering project.
The World Bank finances specific development projects in the Third World; actually, the "World Bank" consists of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which makes loans to the middle income developing countries, the much smaller International Development Association, which makes so-called credits to the poorest developing countries, and the International Finance Corporation, which invests in and makes loans to private enterprises in the Third World.
The negotiations begin at 2 p.m. The World Bank team is two loan officers, three project specialists, a disbursement officer and myself as representative of the legal department and drafter of the documents to be negotiated.
The Beninese delegation is headed by the minister for industry, mines and energy. He is resplendent in a bright native costume, and he opens with a beautiful speech.
The Togolese delegation is led by its ambassador to the United States. He is equally eloquent.
The negotiations go well; by 6 p.m., we have almost finished with the two principal agreements. I am glad that the legal documents that I have labored over so much in the last several weeks ar proving acceptable. Tuesday
The negotiations are now in full swing. We start off with the provisions for disbursement of the proceeds of the credits, always as subject of lively discussion. In this case, the situation is particularly complicated because the engineering studies will be financed jointly by the two countries out of the proceeds of the credits, but each country will finance separately the studies that relate only to its own power distribution company.
By 1 p.m., we are pretty well done and it is time for the customary luncheon offered to the visiting delegations.
En find myself seated between the lawyer of the Togolese Ministry of Finance and the charge at the Beninese embassy. We chat about Beninese coffee, the air traffic controllers situation and potential trouble spots in the documents yet to be negotiated.
When we finish our business at 7 p.m., we have gone through a separate agreement relating to the execution of the project and the subsidiary on-lending agreements required for the orderly channeling of the funds to the jointly owned internationl power company and to the two national power distribution companies. Wednesday
I wake up at 2:30 a.m. when one of the children falls out of bed. My wife goes to investigate; it's a friend of Tina's who is staying over. I can't go back to sleep. My mind turns to the events of the previous day and to what is likely to come up the rest of the week. All hope for sleep is lost and I write until 6 a.m.
When I get to my office, a draft telex to the Kenya Power Company is on my desk for clearance. It concerns an extrememly successful project for the generation of electricity from geothermal steam near Lake Naivasha and some additional drilling exprenses.
After reviewing the documents, it appears that these expenses would be eligible for financing only under certain circumstances, which are not altogether clear from the request. I call the loan oficer and she promises to investigate.
Then I prepare for the last negotiating session with the Beninese and Togolese delegations. All goes well. I have lunch with the two lawyers on the Togolese delegation, one from the Ministry of Finance, the other the inspector general of the Ministry of Justice. Inevitably, we talk law through the meal.
In the afternoon, I finalize the text of all changes in the legal documents and draft a memorandum outling the actions to be taken prior to presentation of the project to our board, signing of the credit agreements and declaration of effectiveness of the credits.
The rest of the afternoon I return phone calls and generally clean up the mess of papers accumulated while I was busy with the negotiations.
In the evening, the Togolese ambassador hosts a reception at his residence for the negotiating teams. Smiles and good feelings all around.
It is late when I get home and everybody is sound asleep. I peek into the girls' rooms. Tina is sharing her room with her friend, who is sleeping in Holly's bed. Holly is holed up in Marieke's room, using her older sister's sleeping bag. It's nice to have a house full of sleeping kids. There is a special quiet. A living silence. I feel very rich. Thursday
I need a quiet 45 minutes to reread a draft appraisal report on a proposed cotton processing and marketing project in Kenya since I have a meeting on it first thing. I find a seat on the bus and get the main parts read.
The meeting goes well. I had requested it because I will have to draft the legal documents on the basis of this appraisal report and there are a number of points that need to be cleared up. The authors are very helpful.
I cat a quick hamburger in the World Bank's coffee shop, then prepare for the closing session of the Beninese/Togolese power engineering project. The scheduled session is advanced by an hour to accommodate the travel plans of the Beninese minister. We have to hustle and don't quite make it.
A solution is improvised which allows him, and the Togolese ambassador on behalf of his delegation, to sign the minutes of negotiation while allowing some last-minutes points to be resolved at the working level. That takes up the rest of the afternoon.
At home, while my wife and I are eating dinner, Tina comes in, asks if we are in good mood, then pleads to go to the roller skating rink. It's family night and kids are free. Off we go.
I have not skated since my boyhood days in Antwerp and I first practice gingerly on the carpeted area. Ten Tina, 7, takes pity on me and holds my hand as I venture out onto the rink and a swirling mass of fast-moving teens and preteens.Miraculously I complete one go-around and want to do another. But Tina refuses: her hand hurts, I'm squeezing too hard. Of course. I'm scared to death. Friday
I use the first hour in the office to return phone calls and to review a few documents that I have been asked to clear or to comment on. They concern an industrial credit project in Kenya, a ports project with the former East African Community and an uncommon request from Equatorial Guinea for World Bank guarantees of a lending transaction.
I buckle down to digest a hefty draft appraisal report for a rural health and family planning project in Kenya. Not only is the rate of population growth in Kenya the highest in the world, it is the highest ever recorded for any country.
A significant part of the project is devoted to influence attitudes with respect to family size through a multimedia information and education program. The other part would consist of improving the various rural health service delivery systems and integrating them in the promotion of family planning practices.
At 5 p.m., I have a meeting with a senior lawyer in the department who is to take over as my division chief. He has been seeing all lawyers of the division to discuss their country assignments and to listen to their view of things.
We discuss "my" countries, from the smallest (Sao Tome e Principe) to the biggest (kenya), and projects in the pipeline that promise to be expecially challenging. It's obvious I love my work. I go home a happy man.