Friday, December 30, 2005

More musing

Apparently my last post gave some guys the impression that I was 1 step away from jumping off a very high roof. Reading through it again I realise it was a bit bleak but the truth is I always have such thoughts around christmas and then move on to make merry for the next few days.

That said, I usually love the end of the year and the general excitement about. Everybody is partying away, people are in a rush to sort out there nuptials, kids' baptism s etc and it is somehow always sunny and bright.

This year has been great in many ways. I have met many new friends, been to places far and wide and moved on in my life in many ways. I am hoping the trend continues next year in a even better way. I just need to quit some costly habits and I should be ok.

Wishing y'all a very Happy and Prosperous 2006.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Musing over Noel

The festive season is upon us again. Why then don’t I feel festive?

I remember back in the day Christmas was something you would look forward to for months. It was always the one time of the year when you were assured of new stuff and as much soda as you could have, and the food of course.

However, somewhere along the way Christmas lost its lustre and became just another day when I do not have to work. It follows the same routine, have lunch with the family sleep a bit because I am to full, then call up my friends (those that are in Kampala anyway) and congregate with them somewhere over a few beers. The whole town is usually empty and so are most of the hangouts. The upside is that there is peace and quite.

I feel envious when I see families loading up the 4x4s all set for the journey to the villages. Even those happy faces at the bus parks looking forward to meeting their people after a year of back breaking labour in the capital. I wish I had some of that.

There is not much for me in the village because due to deaths and relocations over the years the reasons most people go to the village do not exist for me, i.e checking out grannies and village relatives etc. My family consists of a little more than me, my mum and my two siblings who all live in Kampala.

This Christmas will be the first one I celebrate while leaving in my own place (I recently realised I was the oldest guy I knew still living with his mum and this scared me into declaring that 2006 would find me living independently even if it meant entering a flat with nothing more than the clothes on my back).

Anyway I wish you all a Merry Christmas, especially those blog friends I have made over the past few months and hope we are all fine and dandy come 2K6.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Inzi wake up and smell the BS

Poor Dorcus Inzikuru. She has gone and fainted again. This happened while she was at the New Vision to present a letter detailing her frustrations with the government. It seems a combination heavy morning training and mountains of frustration over broken promises did not agree with her and she succumbed.

Inzikuru was the first woman to win a gold medal in the 3000 metres steeplechase. And this of course raised her profile a lot internationally and at home. Before long every politician wanted to be associated with her. She was received with pomp at parliament and everyone wanted to put in a word.

Thus far, all good. However, since politicians are wont to run their mouths endlessly, soon each of these dishonourable fellows was promising poor Dorcus heaven and earth. After a while the jubilation was over and the MPs were back to trashtalking each other, sucking up to Kagu and making complete jackasses of themselves, basically back to parliamentary business as usual. And the rest of us went back to worrying about the usual, making money, doing the happyhour circuit and avoiding teargas.

Nobody put much stock in what the MPs and government people said, these are guys who promise bridges and rivers (to justify the bridges), except poor Inzikuru, who has been running up and down demanding her house, car etc. State Minister for Sports, Bakabulindi, got pissed off because he couldn’t comprehend why this young lady just couldn’t understand that the promises made were for the gallery and the cameras and were never intended to be taken seriously.
Poor girl is properly going to stress herself so much she might not compete soon. I Hope she learns soon enough how her leaders treat sports people. She should start following the media closely. This way she will soon know how her case is hardly unique. She will also learn to thank her stars because she at least bagged $100,000 after winning her gold medal (a member of the Cranes wouldn’t earn that in an entire career).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Work Blues

Hard work never killed anybody, but why take a chance?
Edgar Bergen (1903 - 1978)

Right now I am in full agreement with Mr. Bergen above. I have never really been one to exert my self at work, but today I really really don’t feel like doing anything. As far as the mind is concerned we are closed for the holidays when it comes to office related stuff. Since I put the one assignment that had been giving me grief behind me, I think I can chill a bit.

Its kind of fun pretending to work when you are not. Right now I am posting this at work but because I am typing away furiously in Word, the bossman doesn’t have any suspicions when he pops his head in. There are no colourful graphics or funny PowerPoint forwards open on the screen. And being the perennial skiver I positioned the PC monitor in a way that it alerts me of whoever is approaching from behind. That way I can always click to that open spreadsheet that is always there for such emergencies.

I can’t wait for the 10 days of full lounging coming my way soon. The joy of waking up on a Monday without having work on one’s mind.

Its time to prowl around for some wicked forwards to send to my friends who are more serious with their work. I have to help them ease up a bit. I wouldn’t want them to die of hardwork.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Dark Wednesday in Portugal

I am not in a very social mood right now and I think I will be keeping a low profile for a while, until all this blows over. No I am not suffering from a bout of depression, its just that something inconceivable happened last night..Man U is out of Champions League.. at the group stage. Unbelievable.

Its bad enough that my team is out, but its made a whole lot worse by the fact that almost everyone I know, from the boda boda guy at the stage to even the buchicks who have no clue what they are talking about (they have heard that Man U lost and Jay supports the team and they just have to be part of the kaboozi somehow), has it as their mission to rub it in, lest I forget. I have been receiving messages and calls from gleeful bastards telling me how this is the beginning of the end for Man U. May the fleas of 1,000 camels infest their armpits.

Chins up all ye Man U faithfull (especially these chaps to the right), to paraphrase one talentless actor "we'll be back" .

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

God has sent me, my......rear end

I have just read the interview in which Janet Museveni claims that she was instructed by God to stand for parliament. What a load of bollocks. What the heck do the first couple think Ugandans are?

Usually I try to stay away from discussing politics but every now and then I get itched to rant and rave and I can’t help scratching the itch. Janet Museveni coming up with a statement like that not long after her husband “reluctantly” and “under duress” decided to offer himself as the movement’s candidate for the 2006 elections, leaves me thinking that the these guys think the rest of us are brainless idiots.

If Janet wants to stand, fine. But for crying out loud let her save us the bloody “God’s chosen one” routine. I am tired enough already of her hubby’s endless complaints about how he would love nothing more than to give everything up to go and tend his cows if only it were not for the fact that he can’t see anybody with a vision to rule Uganda after him and also if the people did not keep forcing him to rule them just a little longer.

Let me end this here I feel my blood pressure rising a few notches. I hope she gets her ..ahemm... kicked in the elections.

Jay's Eye View

I have had a lot going through my head in the last few days and I have had no idea what to write about (I still don’t). But while looking out my window, I catch a glimpse of this sunny city I love so much and all of a sudden, nothing else really matters. So I stroll on down to my laptop and make up this post.

Some pics of the view I have of kampala right now.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

World Aids Day

In remeberance of those whose lives have been affected by this scourge.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Polite Friday

The weekend is upon us and it’s about bloody time. Looking forward to spending 48 hours without having to deal with the boss.

However, on a sad note a close relative passed away yesterday. Since I won’t be able to attend his funeral I will have to go for the church service tomorrow.

Speaking of churches, I only seem to enter them when someone has passed away. I cannot remember the last time I went for a regular Sunday church service on my own volition. Weddings are the only other reason I would step in church but I generally avoid them and even then I am more likely to attend only the reception.

There will be no hellraising tonight partly out of respect for the dearly departed and also because I wouldn’t want to be steaming Club Pilsner for the guys in church. It’s going to be a polite Friday, I think.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In need of happy hour soothing

That proverbial space between the rock and the hard place or the devil and the deep blue sea, is probably a lot more comfy than the situation I am in right, now caught between a client who has every right to be pissed off, his language leaves no doubt as to whether or not he is, and an uncompromising boss (who doesn’t want to talk to the client directly).

Without going into details, both are acting like jerks and I have to be the one in the middle making and receiving the calls, just wasting my ears . I wish they would all stop acting pre-pubescent, especially the boss. Feel like going upside his head with my notebook.

On a day like this a lager wouldn’t be unwelcome (as if it has ever been) unfortunately the month has turned into that nasty home stretch and I am keeping tabs on each dime I spend. Even whole night happy hour at Steakout is out of the question. Somebody somewhere owes me a tenner but the chap is being elusive.

Beyond misery is that fact that its my neighbourhood’s turn to be graced by the darkness courtesy Umeme (Jay lets loose that saliva-through-teeth sound that doesn’t seem to have a name in English).

This state of affairs shall not prevail. Time to conceal ID and give slippery debtor a holler. A chap needs to have his nerves soothed by a happy hour lager.

I thinks I found me some bloggers

Ok so Uganda is not quite the blogger desert I had earlier said it was. I stumbled across a few other bloggers some of whose links I have added to the page.

My faith thus restored, I keep on roaming the blogosphere for a few more.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Ugandan bloggers where art thou?

In the past few weeks I have been prowling all over the blogosphere looking for Ugandan bloggers and I must say I have been very disappointed. There are hardly any Ugandan blogs and the few that I have found are not really my cup of tea.

Most Ugandan blogs I have come across are heavily political. They are all about Kony, poverty, democracy (usually the lack of it) e.t.c, you catch my drift. In this group are ugandawatch. These topics are not bad but it all paints a grim picture of Uganda. The funny thing is that many of these bloggers are actually foreigners with a keen interest in Uganda’s politics. The rest are mostly opposition types, and self proclaimed anarchists. The other type are tourists going through Uganda.

I would like to find bloggers that are talking about their ordinary lives, what they get up to everyday. These are the kind of blogs I find interesting. The Kenyans are light-years ahead on this they even have a webring of Kenyan blogs. So far I have found only one Ugandan blogger, called mataachi, I would like to follow.

I hope to find more blogs, because I feel blogging is the latest means of open self expression and a great opportunity for budding writers to practice. Lets not miss out on this fun. My fellow Ugandans where art thou.

Older, yes. Wiser, I don't think so

Today I grow one year older and as is always the case I only remembered it was my birthday after receiving an sms from an old friend early this morning, the first of many. It is kind of strange that everybody seems to remember my birthday except me. The good thing about it is that it shows that people are thinking about me. I should remember to pay closer attention to other people’s birthdays.

I am 1 year older. Do I feel any different? The unfortunate answer is that I don’t. Today might as well be 17th November 2004. I can’t say much has changed since my last B-day. Still same routine job, same vices, and the same unfulfilled resolutions. But then again its not that there was any reason to change anything. I was beginning to get comfortable with all the routine, which I have been told is dangerous at my age, considering I am nowhere near what you could call successful.

Enough of that. I might start depressing myself and that can’t be good on a day like this. Hopefully one of my caring friends and relatives will be so happy for me and buy me a drink or 2 (or 3) this evening, seeing how the pocket is doing badly.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Uneasy Calm After Kampala Riots

The city centre is a virtually deserted save for the Red Tops (Military Police) and their less formidable, but quite scary cousins, the anti riot-police. The scenario reminds me of images of Baghdad presently or of Belfast a few years ago. Its like there is an armed person for every five civilians moving about.

Besigye is now at Buganda road court and the whole place around there is a no-go area.

Earlier this morning, I tried to walk down towards Pioneer Mall from the City Square but I soon changed my mind after witnessing a bunch of mean looking Red Tops prodding the ribs of anybody who was stationery or looked to be up to no good (according to them) and urging them to move on. They don't want anybody idling around today. I wonder where all those to whom the city square is a day-time address, office and siesta venue have relocated to.

It’s a pity how these riots have turned Kampala’s CBD from a vibrant, if somewhat chaotic place, into a near ghost town. Everybody is on edge, a backfiring car would probably send everybody diving for cover.

Thankfully there are no riots today-yet. I will only feel safe after Besigye has left the courthouse and he is out of town. I get the feeling that the rioters are just waiting in the shadows for the slightest to wreck further havoc on the city.

Monday, November 14, 2005

And now the whole town is on fire

The city centre has just turned cloudy on us. No it is not going to rain, its just the good old anti-riot police doing its bit to send people scampering for cover (noses running and eyes tearing) generally keeping the order after yet another riot.

This time it’s Dr. Besigye at the centre of it all. He has gotten himself arrested. There is nothing new in that, I just wish they had taken him to another police station miles away from where I am pretending to be busy at work. He has been thrown in CPS, so the whole area around City Square, Grand Imperial and Rwenzori Courts is just one cloudy mess as the police are lobbing teargas canisters at the good doctor’s supporters quite zealously.

The gas has wafted in to the building and there is general discomfort all over. On any given day I would now be looking forward to bidding this claustrophobic cubical farewell for the evening, but right now I am dreading the streets outside. However, I am not quite sure who I am dreading most- the guys in the flak jackets and helmets or those crazy FDC guys who seem to thrive on inhaling teargas.

Let me wait and see how this unfolds.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Campus is burning

The campusers are at it again. Torching vehicles, breaking windows, setting up roadblocks all over the place and terrorising hapless motorists- and yes, getting shot at by the riot cops. And what is the problem this time you might ask. Those administrators have gone and raised the examination fees.

It is very unfortunate the way these university officials go about increasing fees all the time. This time they have increased the retake fee (fee paid to redo an exam one has failed) from 6k to 180k. Jesus Christ, a whooping 3,000%. Now I can understand why these lads (and lasses) are pissed off. Apparently this was announced without any warnings given.

This university thing is getting so damn expensive. It seems I was lucky to get out before it became to hot. Tuition going through the roof every year, all manner of extra payments conjured up by the admin whenever they feel like, its terrible.

Having said that why do these chaps have to go and wreck stuff every time they are not amused. This is part of the reason they are always paying more. You torch a building; the university has to rebuild it. Where is the money to rebuild coming from? Your tuition, stupid. The next semester they will need more money to rebuild the students will get pissed off again and its is one needless vicious cycle.

To be fair to the nice boys and girls of Makerere, most of the time these riots start out as peaceful, but loud, demonstrations until some lumpens throw a spanner in the works by hurling projectiles at the Vice-Chancellor’s home, office, the senate building or whatever takes their fancy. Then the riot cops are called in and the party begins in earnest, running battles, teargas canisters and all.

What surprises me is why these riots have become so frequent in the last 5 years. I recall in the 90’s there were only about 3 riots (I may be corrected since I joined Makerere at the tail end of that decade) and I dare say with the exception of the one that resulted in the clearing and renaming of Northcote, they were based on serious grievances. These days a year does not go by without one serious riot.

The upside to all this (fee hike not the riot) is that, hopefully, the campusers are going to get a bit more serious with their studies so as not to retake any exams. You don’t want to piss dad off anymore by demanding for dimes to resit the exam. This should result in less campusers at Steakout on Super Tuesday so that the rest of us can enjoy the night long happy hour in less crowded environs.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Uganda's bit in WW2

I learn something new everyday. Today I just learned that there was a major warship doing major business all over the world during WWII. The was ship was called.....drumroll please.....HMS Uganda.

Commissioned in 1942, HMS Uganda did its bit for the war effort. It did escort duty for Winston Churchill in '43, participated in the invasion of Sicily and whole lot of other stuff until it was hit by a German bomb.

After repair,Uganda ended being the top Canadian ship for a while, but then it was eventually rechristened HMCS Quebec and finally scrapped in Japan in 1961.

Why the interest in this ship? I Guess I find it somewhat amusing that HM King George (or whoever was the overlord of the British empire at that time) named a ship after the country in which sunny Kampala basks.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Sporadic Postings

I have just noticed that since I started this blog I have only been posting once a month almost exactly a month after the previous post. I think I should style up.

Though I am sure nobody visits this blog yet, I owe it to myself to make more active- If only only so that the blog can appear lively.

Watch this space. More frequent rambling thoughts from this sunny city.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Flamingos, Hotsprings and a whole lot more

I have just spent a fun-filled weekend gallivanting all over western Kenya’s rift valley lakes. It has been a weekend of flamingos, hot springs, game drives, camping and all manner of partying.
The camping at lake Elmenteita was lovely and the campfire yielded some interesting conversations. There were flamingos everywhere, making the whole lake shore pink. I got to see the rare white rhino (it is actually an ashy shade of grey) for the first time at the lake Nakuru national park. I had an accidental natural steambath at lake Bogoria's hotsprings which nearly scalded me.

The whole trip was a well deserved break from sunny Kampala which was beginning to get on my nerves.

I thank my Kenyan friends who made the whole trip a memorable and fun experience.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Journey around the blogsphere

After starting this blog I realised I really didn't know much about blogging so I decided to pack my bags, jump onto my mouse and click my way around what I have since come to know as the blogsphere. And what a journey it has been.
There are blogs on everything, from everywhere and in almost every language I know. After cruising around for some weeks I have come to the conclusion that my idle thoughts will be quite confortable right here and I think its about time people got to know a thing or two about living in sunny Kampala ( or K'la as some of us call it).
Watch this space!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Inzikuru's Gold

On Monday night Dorcus Inzikuru made many Ugandans proud when she won the gold medal in the 3000 metre steeplechase at the world championships in Helsinki Finland. In many countries such a win would not have been such a big deal, but for Ugandans it marked the first time a Ugandan athlete had won a gold medal at a major athletics event since the 1972 Olympics when John Akii-Bua won the gold medal in the 400 metre hurdles.

Although a number of detractors are saying the women’s steeplechase has only recently been introduced and is therefore not very competitive, the fact still remains that Inzikuru has the gold medal. Inzikuru was earlier this year the fastest person in that race and she has made her own history.

Like many Ugandans I am hoping that Inzikuru’s gold will be an encouragement to all budding athletes to break the fourth-place curse that seems to have hung above all Ugandans competitors at international sports events for well over two decades.

A Kampalan in Nairobi

The cold, chilly Nairobi dawn air greeted me as I stepped off the bus on my maiden voyage to this city I had heard so much about. I looked around as the city woke up for a new day and I wondered how the next four days would play themselves out. I was in town with some Ugandans to attend a conference but enjoying the evening life was way higher up on my priorities list.

Everything started off quite well with cocktail party at The Hilton Hotel on the evening of my arrival. I rubbed shoulders with some of the region’s most loaded people and after an evening of mingling and engaging conversations I felt rich by association (or was it the tusker beer giving me ideas?).

However, since these loaded people became loaded by sleeping early, the cocktail ended while the night was young and that all-important Liverpool-AC Milan champions league final was pending so I had to hit a real bar. Luckily some of my hosts were thinking likewise and decide to take me and some other Ugandans to a pub called Tropeez. At Tropeez I guzzled draught Tusker by the pitchers and generally had fun-until the match began.

I am not a traditional Liverpool supporter but I have always had a soft spot for that team. So when the match appeared like it was turning into a one-sided goal-fest I decided that I was not going to risk the wrath of Nairobi’s thugs (and cops, who I had heard were probably just as nasty especially if you are a foreigner) by moving to the hotel late after losing a match. I quickly sped off to my hotel after the first half, not because I expected much out of the match but because I wanted to hang out closer to “home”. I had hardly settled down before I started witnessing one of the most amazing comebacks in football history.

The euphoria was only marred by the barman refusing to keep the pints flowing after 11pm. I had to beg his pardon because he was not making any sense to me since this was only 3 or 4 minutes past the hour. The man was adamant and said his licence would be revoked if he sold me anything (apparently there were some city council spies masquerading as customers). No beer past 11pm, how do these people survive?

I later learnt that there were different licences for different establishments, which dictated for how long one could sell alcohol because before long I would be leaving the club straight for the bus as the sun crept up. But I am getting ahead of myself.

The following evening, we visitors were hosted to a dinner at Carnivore. I had heard so much about this place and its exotic roast meat and that I could not wait to partake of what it had to offer. Suffice it to say I did not turn down anything, beef, lamb, ostrich, crocodile, camel- the works. I was also enjoying the share of the Ugandan chick next to me. She said she could not eat that weird meat (chicks...hmm, never to adventure).

After the dinner and speeches we were told to board the official bus back to the hotel. Our Kenyan friends had told us that that there was a wicked disco on the premises, which we had not seen since we had been in tents outside. A few like-minded Ugandans and me decided to let the bus go and chose to find our own way home.

First, a crucial point. Two words every linguistically impaired (Swahili-wise, that is) Ugandan beer lover visiting Nairobi has to learn are baridi (cold) and moto (warm/hot). Because I had earlier been taking draught, which was by default cold, I had not realised that these Kenyans actually liked their beer warm. While in Uganda the warm beer is the exception, back in Nairobi one has to specifically ask for baridi.

Being a Thursday, the disco was not happening so we were relocated to another place called Choices (or choi as these chaps call it). This place is a cross between Fat Boyz and Al's bar; therefore it was happening. Our hosts got tired and left us on the dance floor after we assured them that we would be fine as long as we knew the fare for a cab. Every thing went on fine until some drunk fellow nearly started a fight with us. Probably he was not amused by the fact that the foreigners were outdancing everybody and drinking the bar dry. The issue was sorted out before any bottles flew and we saw this as a warning to flee the scene.

With heavy heads, my pals and me woke up to another day whose evening highlight was a home hospitality. Our hosts were some lovely ladies who treated us to a night of Kenyan cuisine and some fun and games. The githeri, kachumbari, and some other dishes I can't remember were superb except for some mixture of mashed vegetables and fermented milk ( that takes some getting used to).

We later ended up in a club called Casablanca, which was full of white, Indian and Arab guys. I felt that this was the place to be and was all geared up to have a blast until I realised from the bill that a beer was 200Kshs, which did not bother me (I might have still been high on that hot flavoured bubbly Morroccan steam pipe I had just smoked) until some quick arithmetic told me I was drinking a beer at Ushs 4,600. I then realised two things: why there were hardly any locals in the bar and why I had to get the hell out very fast.

A few calls later, the guys and me were being driven to Klub House 2 (K2), which is a much larger version of Wagadugu in Kamwokya. This was my kind of place. Here was cheap beer, music and pool. The party went on until the very wee hours of the morning of our last day in Nairobi.

By the last day, the body was weak and I felt I could not push it any more. Thankfully the conference closed at mid-day, which left me a few hours to chill before the banquet later in the evening after which I thought I would have my first full night’s sleep since hitting this town.

The banquet was a tame affair at the Stanley Hotel, which I later discovered is the oldest hotel in East Africa (103 years old). Being a 5-star hotel one had to be wary about how one dealt with the cash bar. We had been told that the hotel had given a discount and beers would be Kshs150 (UShs3500) as opposed to the usual Kshs200 (prices like this made me rethink my opinion on Rhino Pub at The Kampala Sheraton). I had to be easy on the beers, which was made hard by the waiters ever hovering above my head asking if I needed a refill (as if they were the ones buying the beer).

As soon as the banquet ended the Kenyans were suggesting a proper send-off at Florida 2000 nightclub. All the plans for an early night immediately disappeared. Since we were all leaving on the same bus early the next morning my Ugandan chaps and I reasoned that we would hang out in the club until late, head straight for the hotel, shower and board the bus.

Having sorted that out, we hit the club. We shook, watched dancers that would have made the former Shadow’s Angel’s appear as tame as Sunday school kids, and generally made merry until the sun was about to come up.

As I settled my sleep deprived body in the bus I could not help thinking how much of a blast I had had. I promised myself to come back next time and get to see what the city looks like outside the bars and nightclubs. I was also feeling a conspicuous lightness in my wallet. But that would be a worry for another day. Right then all I wanted to do was sleep for all the 13 hours to Kampala.