Tuesday, October 31, 2006

As I move on.

Over the past week I have been runnining up and down while trying to tie loose ends and as such I have hardly been at my desk in the office.

Because I havent been near my trusty Dell laptop I have realised somethings about blogging that I had started taking for granted.

First aof all I am going to miss my fast connection here at the office. It tried to update twice at variuous cafes in and out of kampala but the Blogger beta and the slow connections made picture uploads impossible that I decided to give up. While blogging here I can take my time. I dont have to worry about the seconds ticking away.

Signing in and moving about is a lot easier with the laptop because of all that cookie business and the small tools, widgets, plug-ins, extensions I have added to my browser of a period of time.

I have become so used to using Firefox and/or Opera that Internet explorer is like a new thing whenever I try it out.

Another thing

For those who like TV series may I recommend getting your hands on Rome. It has political intrigue, good writting, gory violence, lavish sets and costumes. Basically everything a period epic of its kind should have.. and yes lots of sex. The sex can get graphic but it is not gratuitous. Anybody who knows how the Romans lived there lives would understand.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The road not taken?

I haven’t been that regular with my posts for the last month or so because I have had a lot on my plate.

A series of slip-ups and major bust-ups with the immediate boss, who wont accept that some of the slip-ups were caused by his failure to fully grasp what the assignments from above required, over the last 10 months have led to a situation where the office has been a truly nasty place for yours truly for the last few weeks.

After thinking long and hard, with the help of some intelligence gathered through my mole in the higher echelons of this organisation, I made the very difficult decision to tender my resignation letter and give in my notice.

After 3 weeks of pushing and shoving it was inevitably going to come down to a choice of who should leave, the boss or me. I realised that was one decision that was more than likely not going to favour my black ass so I made the pre-emptive move. This way I wont have a record of ever being fired.

I am beginning to think I did the right thing, under the circumstances, because everybody is falling over himself or herself to tell me that they will have my back should I need any positive recommendations in the future. To me this means they were going to fire me regardless of the merits of my defence and my resignation gave them an easy and guiltless way out of the problem.

I am not saying I am totally blameless but considering most of the time I was operating under some very misguided instructions, I should have been cut some major slack.

All this has me wondering how different my life would have ended up had I taken up my calling to become a broadcast journalist.

As a MassComm student I developed an interest in radio and TV broadcasting (I was looking for options with no written examinations) and under the initial tutelage of a chap called Murray Oliver I started churning out some pretty impressive assignments. In those days we didn’t even have a campus radio stations and editing suites, like the Countryboyi has, to help grasp the practical elements better. You do not know difficulty until you have attempted to edit a radio skit with only a microphone and a boombox with two tape decks

While still at university I worked for a while at a, now defunct, TV news agency. I liked the work but because I wasn’t being paid I quickly took my uncle’s offer for a job that I found uninspiring.

He had a PR consultancy firm and he had just won a really big job, which required him to get some extra staff. He wanted an assistant and since I was studying mass communication he figured I would do just fine. He also knew that he could pay me peanuts and I’d be happy.

It was the allure of a salary no matter how small (it was actually quite a sum for a university student) that started me on my journey down the “wrong” path. For once I had money to spend and since I was being paid weekly, had no real expenses to talk about, I found I was above the average income level of my classmates.

Almost a year later, after our finals, I was selected by my head of department for a 4 month internship with WBS which would almost certainly lead to fulltime employment. Being the myopic person I was, I turned the internship down. Why? Because I had just received a slight increase in pay and I didn’t see myself quitting what I had to work for 4 months without pay.

As with all consultancy work, the big juicy assignment was soon done and my uncle’s company found it hard to get any new contracts (at least none as good as the previous one). Company went broke after a while and I found myself doing all sorts of dull short-term research gigs, until I got my current job, which is (or was) also largely routine and administrative in nature.

As I sit here charting the carriers of my old team from the broadcast class, many of whom have gone on to better (more interesting at any rate) things, I can’t help but wonder what it might have been like had I stuck to what I liked.

But then again, maybe knowing I am going to be on the street in 28 days has me seeing things from an unhealthy perspective.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Lady pays the bills

A discussion with friends about whether or not it was OK for guys to let a woman pay the bills while on a date got me thinking of an embarrassing situation I found myself in sometime back.

I had just joined a certain international organisation, my boss of two months had been posted elsewhere and this young lady had just been posted to Kampala. She was my boss temporarily while a permanent replacement for my former boss was hired.

Since we were all new at the job (and her even the country) we soon became close. She was one year older than me but a lot younger than many of the other expatriates at work. I soon became her consultant on everything about Kampala and Uganda.

One day, after she had been around for a while and was starting to get used to the expat scene in Kampala, we were talking about hanging out in Kampala and she was surprised that I had never been to all the restaurants she was mentioning. I told her that I wasn’t much of the restaurant type and that a decent meal in some of the places she was mentioning would probably cost me a tenth of my monthly salary. As far as she was concerned dining in places like Krua Thai, Mamba point, Grand Imperial, Sheraton etc was pretty normal (of course she would, she was earning thousands of dollars per month).

Anyway soon after that she made it her mission to school me in fine dining. We did the rounds in damn near every fine restaurant in Kampala, Jinja and Entebbe. I also did my humble bit by introducing her to all the local buffets I could think of ( I once got her to eat kalo and eshabwe, which she enjoyed immensely).

All this time she kept insisting on paying for everything. At first the few traces of machismo in me were uncomfortable about it but I soon came to accept the state of affairs. I told myself that after all she was always the one suggesting where we go and the prices in many of her places used to make me shudder. So I decided to let her keep paying if she wanted to.

One day I had gone for a Kasiki in Silk and I ended up over indulging. I spent my last money on a cab to my place. When I woke up in the morning I had a total wealth of 1,800 in coinage. I had to get to work fast and since I was running late so I decided I would hit the ATM any free time I got after clocking in.

At lunchtime, with 500/= left in my pocket, I was very hungry and I couldn’t wait to get to the nearest ATM to withdraw some money and go have myself a humongous lunch. At this time my friend drops by and says she wanted to take me out for lunch. I figured the ATM could wait since my immediate problem was about to be solved. So I said yes and out we went to a nice restaurant near work.

After the meal, she asked for the bill, which came up to 32,000/=. I wasn’t bothered about anything because I knew the sister had everything covered. However, as bad luck would have, it she had three 10K notes and a 50K note. The allocated 1 hour for lunch was up and we had to rush back to office so she didn’t want to give the waitress money that would require her to go and bring back change. At this point she asked me to add 2,000 to her 30K so that we could be out of there fast.

You should have seen a brother fidget. I nearly chocked on my toothpick while I mumbled some excuse about forgetting my wallet in the office. My friend didn’t think much of it and pulled out the 50K note, which she handed to the waitress. I felt so embarrassed and the look the waitress gave me made me want to melt into the ground.

I will never forget the contemptuous look. I could almost hear her tell herself what a useless, exploiting, gold-digging, good-for-nothing scum I was. She must have shared her sentiments with all the other waitresses she met while going to get “our” change because they all started peeping in our direction to see which chap was de-toothing the Muzungu.

My friend still insisted on paying the bill on other subsequent occasions but I was less willing to have her do it. I also started finding excuses for not going out with her unless I knew I had some loot on me.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

To fib or not to fib

I had taken a hiatus from blogging. It was not because I wanted to but a combination of personal and work related issues conspired against me making a timely post to the “As you asked” Part Deux.

As I was compiling that (last in the series post) something struck me, which has left me somewhat, discomfited. This might appear trivial to some of you, but allow me explain my case.

For most of my life I have had one debilitating condition-I have been incapable of telling a lie and getting away with it. For some reason everybody (excepting maybe toddlers) has been able to see through my lies, embellishments, truth embroidery..etc. Because of this I have become by default a (depending on how you look at it):

1) Trustworthy person
2) Person useless at making excuses for errant buddies. Like when buddy’s gilfie asks what time him and me (her boyfriend) left the pub after the previous nights champions league game and I know I haven’t seen the chap in two days.
3) Utterly useless salesperson/advertiser.
4) Kind of person you don’t ask if the dress you are wearing makes you look beautiful/sexy/corporate/slutty/fat (girls delete accordingly) if you are expecting a comforting (but not entirely true answer).
5) And the list goes on.

Why am I bringing all this up now? This is why.

Recently I have told two really big lies to my boss (to get out of some of the trouble I have been in due to the abovementioned work-related/personal problems I have had) and he seems to have swallowed them hook, line, sinker, anchor, ship, the whole enchilada.

You might say my boss is a gullible, trusting chap, but then you do not know my boss. He is the kind of guy whose gaze would have made torture tools unnecessary during the inquisition. The kind of chap who would make Jack Bauer ask for his mommy (ok that’s stretching it a bit). But you catch my drift.

I was feeling good that I had gotten myself out of a spot of bother but then I got to thinking. I told myself that the ease with which I was spinning fibs was worrying. I started wondering whether I was losing that which made me Jay. I asked myself “Was I sliding down the dark and ignominious road of dark lies and deception?”

After all of 10 minutes of worrying and obsessing, I said to myself “chief, whats the worst that can happen?”

“Either you discover that your tall tales didn’t hit the mark by a mile and the bossman is only marinating on the most cruel method he can use to make you pay for thinking you could sneak a weak-ass lie by him and thus you don’t have to worry about all that ignominious road nonsense ”


You just became normal.