Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Mall


It’s been a while since I was last downtown – and by that I mean south of Kampala Road because, there is nowhere to park and the pavements have been taken up by Hawker. I also can’t deal with the human traffic – especially people walking in front of you who don’t walk in a straight line or suddenly stop dead in their tracks because there is something trivial that they want to gawp at.

During the lunch hour, there is the risk of having byenda or beans poured over you as the young girls – the food messengers, scurry between the traffic as they deliver food to Taxi Tout, Shop Keeper and anybody else that might have ordered lunch.

I am in one of the malls on William Street visiting a friend who had asked for an opinion on his clothes shop.

It’s a Sunday so there is no traffic and there is an abundance of parking space except, the street has Very Shady Man loitering about demanding I pay a parking fee yet, he doesn’t work for Multiplex and being a Sunday, parking fees are waived. 

So I drive the ride further up the road and park with the help of Askari guarding the chemist shop which brings up another problem. Askari also wants money because I have parked in a slot that is reserved for customers going to the chemist. But the shop is closed so why can’t I park? I drive off again and find a slot that does not have Very Shady Man and there is no askari in sight. 

The mall is a maze of alleyways with prison cell like shops because of the thick steel doors and thick steel burglar proofing. It takes a while to find the shop because I am hopelessly lost.

One thing about the mall is that most of the shop owners are in the hair trade. There is a brigade of women huddled round the heads of very tired women and weaving artificial hair into their natural hair. My host tells me the artificial hair is horse hair and I am inclined to believe him because when one woman walked past, she smelt like the horse stables at Speke Resort in Munyonyo.  

After a few beers, I go to the communal toilets three floors down and getting lost in the process. At the entrance there is a young 13-year-old boy with a huge ripe and ready-to-bust yellow pimple on the tip of his nose. It’s a nauseating sight but I take time out to talk to him as I pay the sh300 fee for having a pee.

So do you go to school I ask him. He swings me a blank look as he touches the huge ripe and ready-to-bust yellow pimple on the tip of his nose then asks: “Are you my father? Do you pay my fees?” With that response, the conversation had run its course.

As I wander back, I see the most incredible sight. Three women and two kids are squatting down and facing one of the shops. I should have known what was going on especially as they had their skirts hiked up. They were having a pee.

Okay so almost all shops were closed and it was close to 10pm but, grown women peeing in front of a shop yet the toilets are three floors below? Really!  Probably they had paid an earlier visit to the toilets and found 13-year-old boy with the huge ripe and ready-to-bust yellow pimple on the tip of his nose as nauseating as I did. Or perhaps they were just uncouth. I am not the greatest linguistic but from their kaboozi I am sure they were Bakiga – dare I say.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Assuring The Parents


Don’t let me meet your parents for I have a habit of putting my foot in it.

I few years ago, Simon Kaheru, invited me to his parent’s crib on the outskirts of the city for Sunday lunch. I got lost and when the not-so-helpful directions that Simon was giving me over the phone didn’t help, he gave the phone to a man “who would be able to give me better directions.”

Man-on-the-phone didn’t waste time – not in giving me better directions but in assuring me. “How can you get lost?” And he went on: “Don’t you know where you are? Stop there and take a left and follow the road…”

I didn’t like his tone of voice. I mean who is this person assuring me? Obviously I lost my cool. Where I had entertained the idea of giving up and going home because I was hopelessly lost, I was now so determined to find the house. At the house, I demanded Simon point out Man-on-the-phone. He did. After assembling a tumbavu and other swear words to unleash on him, I marched towards him. Just as I was about to let rip, Simon added an extra line – “Man-on-the phone is my dad.” Ya la bi! Trying to substitute tumbavu and other swear words for polite words like “it’s a pleasure to finally meet you Mr. Kaheru” was no easy task. Suddenly I wanted to pee, my stomach was churning and I was dripping with sweat.

Eva works for Saturday Vision. Then, her mother sat on the board at New Vision, something which I knew though I had never met her. One night and for some unknown reason, and in a very, very blazed state, I was standing outside Club Silk when Eva was dropped off.

What happened next was unexpected. I thought it prudent to take myself to the ride and assure the lady driving it as to the values of driving at night and drink driving. I think. I really can’t remember because like I said, I was rather blazed. As I unleashed my tirade, I was oblivious to the tugs on my shirt from Eva. I was on a roll. I felt like M7 scolding his ministers. I was in my element.

On a harder tug of my shirt which got my attention, Eva whispered to me: “That’s my mum.” Yes, that is what I thought she said. First to go were my bowls. Then I thought I might pee in my pants when she recommends I get fired at the next board meeting. Then I thought I should run away and come back pretending I was somebody else.

There is Joy, an editor at New Vision. I assured her father who had come to pick her up on his Yamaha motorbike. I told him that if he dared confused her and take her to some dark spot he would have me to answer to. I put him in his place. However, if only I had known he was her father before I started the rant.

A few weeks ago, Guma picked me up. There were three other people in his ride and that should have been an indicator that there was a need to be polite. However, no sooner had I closed the door, I opened my mouth and let out a streak of f**k you’s. Guma did well to hold it together. He let me finish then casually introduced me to his dad who was sitting in the front seat. Ouch, ouch, ouch! I wanted to be out of the car and on a boda to the nearest clinic where I could have my mouth washed out.  

 

Monday, October 14, 2013

The Nut Cases

I know it would be a tall order if I thought the rest of Uganda was as level headed as I am. My sanity levels are still in check and if I were to go off the rails, it would be nothing too extreme.

Ok, when I was fourteen I thought I was an experienced driver so I stole dads Range Rover while he was at work and is there any need to tell you what happened? I crashed as it was expected of any teenager who thought he was an experienced driver but really wasn’t.

I would also like to think that Gera, Nodin, Doc and Julius are all of sane mind but, after a few beers, they have been known to take leave of their senses and do things that can best be described as irrational and unbecoming of the people that they really are.

In today’s world, there are people with issues. Some issues are the normal run-of-the-mill issues while others are difficult to comprehend.

I was watching Taboo USA on National Geographic and I was disturbed by what I saw. There was this man who believed he was born a dog and trapped in a human body.

I think there is a need for me to pause while you rush off to your drinks cabinet and pour yourselves a stiff whiskey like I did before I continue with the tale. You done?

So convinced he is a dog that at his home, he sleeps in a kennel! And there is more. During the day he dresses up as a dog, and gets his friend to lead him round town on a dog leash. At the stores, he doesn’t buy himself sane people’s food like cornflakes, bread or pasta, but dog food - dog cookies and canned dog meat.

Still on Taboo USA, in the next segment and I’ll pause while you go for a whiskey refill, the next chap thought he was a vampire. He believed it was in him, in his spirits. Speaking to camera, he said: “If I don’t get my fill of human blood, my body won’t cope”. So where did he get the human blood to drink so his body would cope?

Easy. He simply advertised and there were volunteers who allowed him to sink his ‘fangs’ into their backs and drink their blood. Jeez, talk of daft volunteers.

By this stage the whiskey was no longer doing it for me. I needed something stronger – crack cocaine, amphetamines and heroin to get to grips with what I was seeing.

Yes, we all have ambition of some sort and sometimes we all aspire to be people who we are not but WTF, those aspirations have to be within reason. I mean, I have never woken up with a desire to be Beyonce in a tight leather basque. Bobbi Wine yes, because it’s within reason, but Beyonce? Please!

What I didn’t click is, the programme had a panel of Psycho-analysts and in their analysis, they didn’t certify Dog Man and Vampire Man as being people fit for the lunatic bin and the key thrown away. In their ‘psycho-analysis’ they said, ‘these things happen.’ Hmm!

That said, I wonder what would happen if I told Dad that it’s suddenly dawned on me that I was meant to be born a dog.

Tell a lie, I do know. With the help of Nodin, Doc, Paulo and Julius, Dad would have me in a straight jacket and whisked off to Butabika without waiting for Psycho-analyst to tell him why it is that I thought I was born a dog. By the way, Dog Man and Vampire Man were both white. Phew!      

      

Friday, October 11, 2013

Were You Invited?


Will we ever get the whole invitation card thing right? Do people bother to read what’s written on the invitation card? No, they don’t. Do people steal invitation cards? Yes, they do. Do people still try and crash functions? Ha, they do.

I was at a function recently and the invitation card was explicit. The invitation only invited the person whose name appeared on the card.

Not perturbed, Young Man duly turned up to the function all dressed in white along with his better half. At the entrance and upon presenting his card, Card Attendant told him the card was addressed to him alone – not to him and Better Half.

Young Man stood looking at Card Attendant in disbelief, then at Better Half while trying to figure out what to do next. “But I have an invitation card” he blurted out to which Card Attendant swiftly responded by saying: “You do, but the card admits you and not you and Better Half.”

What happened next was unexpected. Rather than walk away, his mouth opened and out gushed a torrent of abuse.

“You people are stupid. Next time, be better organized. You send me a card and now you tell me Better Half can’t get in? What kind of function is this?”

If Young Man thought his tirade intimidated Card Attendant, he was wrong. She stood her ground and when reality dawned on him that Better Half would have to trudge home or wait by the boda boda stage while he attended the function, he cut his losses, turned on his heels and off he went stamping his feet in a last act of defiance.

Two of the hardest card attendants that I know of are Thalma and Priscilla. Starting off with Priscilla, she can give an icy stare that is enough to give you goose pimple even on a hot day. I have seen her get rid of uninvited people with ruthless efficiency. And she does not give a hoot at your standing in society - whether you are an MP, minister or CEO.

Thalma, is hard and once her dreadlocks start fraying, its game over. She will tell you once – as she indeed told me at a function where I had turned up without my invitation card. “Yes, I know who you are, but you still need to present your invitation card”. I was lucky to have been saved by the event organizers otherwise it would have been a humiliating long walk back to the car.

But people are still brazen. At one of the Royal Ascot Goat Races in Munyonyo, ‘Guest’ had the nerve to tell the main sponsor – Sudhir Ruparelia, that he (Guest) had an invitation card and that he (Sudhir) had no right to stop him from getting into the Crane Bank tent.

Guest: “I was personally invited by Sudhir so why can’t I get in?”

Sudhir: “Sudhir personally invited you?”

Guest: “He did. I even have a card!”

Invitation cards to the goat races as everybody knows will not get you into the hospitality tents. What will, is the wristband.

And how was the situation resolved? Sudhir looked at Guest, shook his head and walked away while Guest shouted out how he was going to report him to Sudhir. Hmm!

But spare a thought for Jacob Oulanya, deputy speaker of parliament who, I almost bounced at The White Party at Kati Kati recently. He had no invitation and I also knew he was not on the guest list. Fortunately, his name was on another guest list I was not privy to otherwise, I wonder who would have been more embarrassed if I really did have to bounce him – he or I?   

       

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