Thursday, March 27, 2008

Its a Rainy Day!

It is raining outside. And I am warm and cozy inside.

I wish, I would- translate the beauty of the rain, to living dew on the page. Living, because it is life giving, and not but life can give birth to life. The city is bathed in rain.

Yes, it is not such a blessing to those who are in the valleys. Because the water is in the houses, and they cannot go out to play, nor stay in to sleep. Kampala is a city of hills and valleys. And when it rains, the valleys flood, and water everywhere is a sheet unbroken, flooding the ground.

I have lived in this city for most of my short life.
Yet there are some things which I am yet to see. Like the misery of the plain slums, not those of the heights of Naguru. But I have heard of the rumors, of rain and sun that makes this paradise a hell for some.

Money. Life’s apparent oil.

Yet, to think of it, us privileged few are not as adapted as those who have to sludge it out day after day. In mines, in poverty, in rain and sun, in the cold when it snows and when it rains with no shelter. Harder life than mine, but they have survived it.

Papers. Took a flat 2 minutes to pass through the New Vision.

No news, is good news? 30 something pages of soon to be toilet paper.

Maybe it would have been better not to come to work. The cold is too much, my nose overbearing, heavy, blocked. Cant work much. Cant stop looking out at the rain and cars and traffic and people. A sumptuous feast of eye candy.

The Cartoon? Its from the Monitor newspaper. The caption says, “Almost daily, humans and Marabou Storks fight for fish leftovers dumped at Kasenyi landing site in Entebbe, probably for food.” Would it be more amusing if it was not true? I doubt it. That is real life, unencumbered by the many ideals which we want to load it with.



Saturday, March 22, 2008

Is Night

Is night, and I am beautiful-

graced with all the beauty

the alcohol suffusing your veins

can credit me with.

Come morning,

the alcohol burnt off-

all my blemishes seen,

morning breath on my kiss;

will you love me the same

Oh love of the moment?


For some reason this reminds me of Iwaya. I penned it in a bar.


Friday, March 21, 2008

Museveni and Gaddafi

Life is not without its very light moments. M7 and Gaddafi, our dear leaders.

Think two bulls in a kraal.

Bulls are animals, (like humans). They are polite. They tend not to invade each others private spaces.

Two bulls in a kraal is an entertainment.

Firsts. Make sure that the fence between you and the bulls is strong enough. Or perch somewhere out of reach. Or, make sure that you can take off like the proverbial wind.Bulls are polite. They will announce their intention.

Paw the ground repeatedly. Trumpet their challenge to the world, and turn to face each other. Then each will go back to the end of the enclosure, paw the ground, and charge. The joust.
We humans are less polite, and more intelligent.

We don’t go in for jousts between the bulls. Underlings do the physical scuffling, while we look on- in approval?

Two huge egos meeting. Inevitable that they should clash, and they did. On, what else but, who is bigger than the other? Who takes the precedence!

And of course they fight. Forgive me. Proxies fight it out. 3 or 4 times during Gaddafi's visit, the respective personal bodyguards fought it out in very public view. I mean fists, and throws, and slaps, and pulling the clothes, with the press taking photos. I swear it is true. Just read this Monitor article.

Now, to crown the visit of this leading politician on the African continent, he took a swipe at the Scandinavians, (printing Mohammed Cartoons), the Arabs (monopolizing the Kaaba in Mecca), and his Christian hosts (falsifying the Bible to remove mention of Mohammed). His host is a nominal Christian, and he was seated in the congregation, listening to the sermon, the Gospel according to Brother Gaddafi.

To shorten the story, he went off in an apparent pique. Guess he will not be soon invited back. And if he is, he may not give his royal assent.

Sigh, aren’t we relieved!!


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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Obama Speech

I am at home. Just finished dinner. A great meal. He cooks very well indeed. Very well.

I have not been so into politics, the great live show happening in America for some time. Afraid I do have a short attention span. Bored by things which go on for a long time. And this endless election cycle has simply worn me down. There are some more interesting things.

Like Castro leaving office!

Anyway, I have been shaken out of my lethargy. Obama has given a speech, and of a sudden, I am listening to a politician.

I cannot bear speeches. Most political speeches bore the hell out of me. I try my level best not to listen to them, even when my friend is glued to the TV because the president is speaking. I hate them, with a passion.

I have read Obama’s speech, from beginning to end.


I guess because it is not just a speech. He does not speak like a politician.

He has reminded me. Long time ago, a very long time ago, my idea of perfect idealism was the great romantic story of the American revolution. I believed, with a fervor that was at once uncritical, and complete. Sigh. Youth and innocence seems such a long time ago!

Anyway, I grew up, and disillusioned.

The Iraq war happened, Gulf 1, and then 2…

I have listened to snippets of Bush, the 43rd.

I have tried my best to avoid all those of M7. They are profoundly sedative in delivery.

I do remember I was spell bound, for all of 2 minutes by Blair…

Guess that is the full extent of my ‘experience’ in speeches.

The Obama speech? Is it a politician speaking, or is this a normal person? Politicians are not normal. They live in never-never land, where problems are solved by the politician being elected to office.

I guess one has to read it in full by ones self. Yeah, it is a great speech. The understatement of the evening. Why is this guy running as a politician? He could be elected a deity by popular acclaim. Well, the Dalai Lama is threatening to ‘resign’. Maybe there will be a vacancy awaiting him soon…



Sunday, March 16, 2008

Close as Death is...

Kampala, as lazy and dull as usual, meaning the morning was crisp and cold, with rain in the night, and it threatened to rain till noon. Now, past noon, inching to evening, the strength of the sun is unquestioned, the overcast is thinner, and it is warm and humid.

We have been having snarling traffic jams. ‘taxi’ fares jumped, as did those of the boda-boda motorbike taxis. The reason for the jams is fairly simple. The city council woke up and decided that a number of roads needed repair. So they are closed for repair.Apparently, all those roads seem to be around the New Mosque, so it was not a surprise for me to learn that Col. Gaddafi of Libya is expected in the country. We only repair the roads when we get a visitor. The last time it was the queen, that was less than 6 months ago, and we had a major do over. We don’t respect Gaddafi that much, so it is only around the mosque that we have done some work. Apparently, he is to visit and dedicate the Gaddafi National Mosque.

Lovers’ tiff yesterday. Went out together and I came back mad. Mad enough to sleep in the guestroom. But in the wee hours, found that the anger could no longer warm me. So I crept back to my side of the bed.

Heard the song ‘Double Bed Mazongoto’? ‘Doctor’ someone or other, one of our irascible local artists. Well, I did discover in practice that sleeping together, the reasons for anger seem to vaporize. So woke up late in the morning, wrapped up round him, very thankful for another Sunday morning in bed, with nothing on schedule. Nothing but a lazy morning, and to dream in the warmth of my lover. Perfect way to begin the day, the week.

Have been having an interesting experience of my extended family.

Have an uncle. This is where the inelasticity of the English language fails me. Father’s brother, so an uncle, but very different from mother’s brother, because he is more than an ‘uncle’. He is my father, and I am a son.

Guy is terminally ill. Knew about it when he was in the village, back where my father came from long before my birth. They were born 2 boys, and a gargle of girls. Males are ‘important’, in our patriarchal society. But this uncle was the ‘black sheep’ of the family.

Anyway, the guy is sick. Terminally ill.

He was a player in his youth, one of his black marks. Fathered more than 23 children (that I know of), but many are alienated. Lives with his nth wife at the moment. Lost count when it became impossible to know who was who.

So, when he is sick and dying, his family alienated and run off, he falls back to his extended family. Which means his brother, and his brothers children, us. And the beauty of family- it does deliver.

He doesn’t look very good. Fact is he is very ill looking. But coherent, and still alert to the best deal. He is reconciled to the fact of dying. Something which the rest of the relatives are yet to deal with. One can feel the shock when another first lays eyes on him. They are literally speechless, coming face to face with one about to die, and looks it. Personally, I think, for the close companionship that death is in our lives, we are very naïve in the way we think about it, traditionally. But all communities have their own coping methods.

He is sick, and dying, and knows it. He has fallen back to his extended family, and they surround him. Reconciled to death’s appointment, he can even afford to crack morbid jokes, alarming and embarrassing the relatives who are distraught and fearful.

But he is ready, and I hope when mine comes, I am as ready! Morbid thought, on a beautiful evening.

The sun is setting just about now. Hidden behind a hill from my view. But it will be light for at least another 30 minutes . Dawn and dusk, daily times of change, beautiful when one has the luxury to sit down and appreciate them.

Have a beautiful evening, and may the week be good to you.


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Wednesday, March 12, 2008


A dusting of sunshine on the street.

Don’t know whether there is any other way to put it. But a dusting. Or a mite more than a dusting.

Certainly it is a stronger sunshine than that in colder lands, but here, it holds promise of a blazing hot afternoon. The kind for one to throw off confining clothes and work, skin breathing and glistening with sweat, in full freedom.

Writing that, you can imagine my envy of a person who can do that. I am in the confines of an ‘office’. A prisoner till the end of the shift. All starched up and proper, deferential and smart. Ugh! Whereas I would have the freedom of my time, the needs of the body demand otherwise.My jailer has given me a great view of the city outside. So I can work, longing for the freedom of the street.

Yesterday I was walking through my valley. I fell in love again. With beauty.

There is so much beauty in the day to day things which we fail to see. I certainly fail to see it.My memory of these places, when I was walking from school, hot, tired, bothered, hungry, mind focused on getting home and some food into the stomach. I never bothered to look and see. So it is in the morning.

Rush hour we call it. Always rushed. Little time to stop and laze going to work. Letting the business of busy flow about us a cataract turbulence that bothers us not. I tried that today, coming in to work. Left home earlier than usual. Came walking the first kilometer. Relaxed, watching the rest of humanity rush by to school and work and the myriad other things that make people rush in the morning.

I found myself relaxed and good tempered, though I knew I am in for a long day. Doesn’t matter, I can still enjoy it. Freedom is of the mind, and here, on the blog, I have the freedom of cyber.

Listening to the news this morning, I realized that the land wars are becoming heated. We are a fractured society, and the deepest cracks are according to our ethnicity. The wounds are glaring open, wide, and the leaders are steadily ferrying us to the cliff.
God help Uganda.

I am worried, but I may not be able to do anything.

The people who can do something are not talking, and venom comes out when they breath. And a military man is threatening force, the usual ‘solution’ which incenses others. And others are looking on, not likely to step in between these raging elephants. Uganda, after a few years of ethnic peace, is tittering on the verge of rupture. At least that is what I see, but my leaders? Well, the ego is a wonderful thing.

Wish I could get the beloved leader by the ears and shake his bald head a bit. When a general in the army threatens military intervention in the parliament- something is going wrong.

Oh well, life will continue. Hopefully, sense will return to us. The probability of that is low.

So, I will continue looking out the window at the sun, which has now strengthened and is well into midday heat. The afternoon will be sizzling. Yes, it will be.



Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Lazy Morning

I woke up, with the distinct feeling that it was not time to get out of bed.

The sun was up, my valley in the shadows of the hills surrounding it, but cool and wrapped in morning sun on the leaves.

Beauty. It is a perception, in the eye of the beholder.

My spirits have soared with the promise of a day of sun.

We live in a global village. Yesterday, I decided to take a walk round my valley. Shocked me to realise that it has been years since I explored it. Typical urbanite. I wake up and work, go to work, or play, or go out- without knowing what is happening in my neighbourhood. Its too close for me to see. Like a huge bolder perched on my nose.

I walked the roads. Thick red dust, each footfall followed by a small dust-storm. Sun was brilliant hot. Yet not uncomfortable. Kampala’s equable weather.

I took the paths I had not taken since I was a child, and found that I have been living blind. The places where we used to hunt for mangoes, the open spaces where we used to play hide and seek- (not true, where we used to go digging), they are gone. There are houses everywhere. Even where I did not expect them to be.

The city has sprawled out, eating into the trees, which are now the orphans. I think I am just lucky to still live in the garden of trees. Or maybe I am not. Even where the houses are piled up together on the hillsides, the trees are still hanging on.

Kampala is bulging at the seems. Wrong, she bulged and spilled over in tangible waves of humanity.

The people are poor. But the children still play and laugh, unrestrained. There is evidence of cottage industries at every road junction.

My wanderings led me home- where I grew up. Maama was not around, but the old place was as usual. And I remembered to pack my bag full of avocado fresh from the tree. My lover loves it.

Our world is a global village- had not realised how crowded it had become.

Of the papers, the red rug seems convinced that the end of the world is near. Means there is no juicy scandal. The EastAfrican is a weekly, so it presents history instead of news. How Kikwete of Tanzania managed to breakthrough the deadlock in Kenya. I dislike political spin. Museveni stepped on his toes congratulating Kibaki, and then intimated he acted as a peace broker. No, what I dislike is someone trying to insult my intelligence with political spin.

Speaking of politics, Hillary is throwing the kitchen sink at Obama. I am glad to know that stupidity is not the reserve of our African leaders. So, she is tearing the party apart, in the name of winning. She is a throwback to our politicians. If it had been in Uganda, Obama would be in prison. Imagine, an upstart against a former First Lady!

The land wars are ongoing. The Kabaka vs the President. I really love logic. It seems to sort through stupidity very quickly. But logic is a perception. So, it is a matter of fact that what I think is logical to me, the Kabaka and President may think it is stupidity.

Oh well, life continues.

I can rail at all that is wrong with my world, and forget the things that are right with it.

My thanks to all of you who have commented on the matter of faith and the gay Ugandan. Truth to say, I was not aware that I was so worried. Concerned.

Maybe I should have trusted my lover more- but again, is there any logic in religion?

He could not sleep last night. Worried about a business deal. I held him in my hands, just happy that I was with him.

Life is quirky, not easy. I was worried about the religion thing, because it strikes at the heart of our relationship. (Yeah, had a lover who told me that it was a sin to make love. I felt like I was a piece of dung at that moment. Degraded. Why should my love be a sin?) My lover was not so worried. He is more concerned about the more practical things of bread and butter and food on the table.

It is a beautiful, brilliant hot day out, and I am grateful for that.