Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dr. John

To Muzee, Phado, Willo and the rest, they simply call him Dr. while others call him Dr. John. Now which one should we go with? Let me give him some respect and use the latter. Dr. John works in Kamuli and according to what he tells us, he specializes in pregnant mothers (I hope it is not some morbid fetish) and child infancy. But there is something mildly disturbing about that. We all know that Kamuli is the jigger capital of Uganda. Secondly, none of us have been to Kamuli to watch Dr. John at work plus he never seems to talk about pregnant mothers and child infancy but jiggers which, leads us to believe, could he be the chief jigger remover who has been sent by the Ministry of Health to sort out Kamuli?

But in all fairness, Dr. John should have inherited part of his late father’s legacy – but he didn’t. That legacy was the ability to run for John’s father back in 1972, did Uganda proud when he came back from the Olympics with a bling of a gold medal draped round his neck. What he did inherit (and we don’t know where from) was the ability to use his hands – not just to be a doctor, but to mix, as in mix music – video’s, music or otherwise.

DJ Shiru who ply’s his trade out of Club Silk is supposed to be the best there is at mixing, but watching Dr. John do his thing in Monot a couple of weeks ago, I am sure Shiru, would have stepped back and admired the abilities of Dr. John for he was simply dope!

When I say ‘dope’, I don’t mean dope as in contraband drugs but dope as in hip. Dope is a word favoured by the Swagg Generation and should any parent wish to more about the Swagg Generation, I am hardly the coward to ask. Try Ernest Bazanye on the second to last page of this, your favourite Sunday magazine (that sounds like the most biased plug for a magazine considering I am a contributor)!

Why Dr. John chose to do a bout of video mixing that Friday night remains a mystery. I thought he had learnt his lesson when he last played music in Miki’s Pub. You see the people – Willo, Paulo, Phado, Muzee and the rest are a very complicated bunch when it comes to music. They will push Dr. John to go and play in a DJ booth that is cut off from the crowd. And as he does he thing, they in the meantime sit back and quaff beers while making small talk with the PYT’s. And every time Dr. John tries to leave the booth to rejoin them at the table, they send him back. “Go mix some more” so they tell him. And with that Dr. John heads back to the booth.

When it is time to go, nobody bothers to tell him. They just stand up, get into their rides and head off to the next location. Just like that. And unknown to Dr. John, he is playing music for an empty table.

In Monot, I found that there were some unexpected fringe benefits to be derived by standing next to Dr. John as he did his thing. With every successful mix that he pulled off, a cheer went up. And with each cheer, Dr. John put all his worth into pulling off yet another successful mix. However, the unexpected fringe benefits I was talking about were not the cheers but rather the beers that were showered upon him by those who appreciated what he was doing. The beers were being delivered to the DJ booth in two’s, sometimes three’s.

Now this is the point where DJ’s don’t exactly like their jobs. When they are doing the mix, they concentrate, they think four songs ahead – almost like a chess player and they are cut off from everything except trying to please the crowd. Another thing, they don’t like having any form of liquid (beers, soda’s) near the decks or the PC incase of spillage.

As the beers were being lined up, Dr. John obviously had no time for them which got me thinking. I really need not have been a student of Harvard Business School to figure this one out but, why would I break into my 20k note to buy beer at 4k yet, there is an endless supply waiting and all through Dr. John’s hard work?

I slipped the 20k note back into my back pocket (there was really no use of walking round with a wallet and all for a solitary 20k was there?) and started quaffing on Dr. John’s beers. I even had the nerve to ask Waitress to exchange them for colder ones, and bring me a barstool so I would be comfortable as I did the quaffing that had to be done.

When Dr. John showed signs of slowing down, I would leap off my barstool, rush up to him and give him ‘moral support’. I would tell him things like, he is better than DJ Shiru and that, Elvis Wava is a tight of mine and I can arrange for him to play in Club Silk on a Saturday night. Those were the words Dr. John wanted to hear. His ego swelled. His chest puffed out like that of the resident rooster – ready to make that first crow at 5:30am as well as trying to assure the local Imam that his crow carries further than the Imam’s ramblings from the mosque’s loud speakers as he calls people to prayer.

Encouraged, he carried on with the mix. Encouraged, I went back to my barstool, whistled for Waitress who seemingly had pulled out the coldest ever Club beer that Monot had. I swirled it round my mouth for a while then let it trickle down my throat while giving a thumbs up to Dr. John. This is it. This is bliss. But there was some thinking to do. How do I convince Dr. John to return to Monot the following night to do yet more mixing? I mean why can’t I keep my 20k for a rainy day?

Anyway, as time wore on, Monot began to empty. Outside on the terrace where Muzee, Phado, Willo and the rest usually sit, it was an empty table save for the remnants of a bottle of Johnny Walker – Black, and a near to the brim glass of Moonberg – which obviously was Muzee’s drink.

If Dr. John found out that he had been abandoned by his friends that, would be it. He would call it a night, pack up his mixer and all then sit down to drink the beers he had been given. But I was not yet done. I managed to squeeze a further 40 minutes out of him in which three beers were delivered.

As I had my fill, it was time to go – well time to sneak out. There was no need to say bye to Dr. John because people these days don’t say good bye. Willo will leave half a glass of Guinness and a cigarette burning to give the impression that he is still around. Paulo heads off in the direction of the toilets then scarpers through the back door. Muloodi, we simply don’t know how he does it. One minute he is there and the next he is gone. Muzee pretends his phone has rang then walks out to a ‘quiet’ place to take the call - the quiet place being his car that is roaring away. I just walked out – just like that.

The following evening when we saw Dr. John, he was semi vexed. He said he thought that the previous night the crowd had been buying him beers but bleak. At that, I sank into my seat and kept mum. And he went on: “Then I packed up my stuff ready to come and re-join kimeeza but it was empty. All I found was Isaiah (his driver) waiting to take me home.”

And with much regret, Dr. John did not play music that night which necessitated me breaking into the 20k note. What was his problem? All we wanted him to do was some video mixing. Was that too much to ask from him? If his late father still had the energy to do a victory lap after scooping the gold medal, what was another day of mixing to Dr. John?