Monthly Archives: May 2011

Minutia

Shhh. The entire school is sitting in a big hall writing end of year exams. Trooper says it will be like Harry Potter, only our hall is open to the elements and has not a gothic balustrade in sight. When you turn to the right you see thick green foliage, to the left, a sullen yellow walk with fans.

In a few short hours I will have a thick wad of exam papers to mark, so beginning this week of hell. So this is a quick and short post to tide you over until I come out the other side, weary, perhaps shaken, calloused, but done. The countdown is ticking in earnest; reports and packing still to do but the shippers are booked as are two last minute nights away to gulp the Nile air one last time.

Even if I walk backwards on this conveyer belt, I will still end up in Bahrain on June 23rd, no matter what I do. No matter the tummy flutters and the last minute concerns or lists to tick, I will be there, suitcases in hand, probably with the expression of one who has passed through a rather sudden yet expected tornado.

Trooper celebrated her birthday in lovely adolescent Pizza style with friends from school. She glowed with happiness and shoved all thoughts of upcoming goodbyes to the nether regions of her glossy head. I left them all alone in a restaurant, thirteen 14 year olds, to behave as adults do and despite my concern over the other paying restaurant clients, it all went off with nary a hitch or broken glass. They know how to behave.  Imagine.

Princess was dropped off at a glorious estate, a 20 minute drive from downtown Kampala that felt worlds away to celebrate a birthday in the wild acres and heart shaped pool of a friend. I saw her bikini clad and prancing at 4 pm and didn’t see her again until lunchtime the next day.  My birds are flying the coop, but they still come home for hugs, sustenance and exam revision.

I have no funny stories to tell, no witty observations. Perhaps I should just hang up dear 3limes until this craziness is over and I can once again walk, write, breath and sleep without a ticker tape of things to do running widely through my head. The truth is, I am obsessed, as well I should be, considering the leap that I am about to make. But sadly this introspection is of no use to you, readers, and for that I apologize. Still, it is comforting to know that one or two of you are out there following this odd little story.

So what do I do to stay sane in these days of limbo? I watch movies (Hangover 2 was a welcome and hilarious distraction), I eat a lot of pineapple, and I drink coffee in the overtly green and lush garden of my good friend A. I look at a lot of green trees and burn their emerald stain into my mind for safe keeping. I work. I work some more. I sort out those little bottles in my bathroom that gather dust instead of being used.  I read short stories, disappearing into other worlds, briefly.

I will be back when reports and exams and other academic nonsense is attended to.  Until then, busy bees, I send you lovely Ugandan golden sunshine, flecked with red dusty kisses.

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Filed under Family Stuff, Miss Teacher

Trooper is 14

Trooper is 14 today. I can’t quite believe that I have a 14 year old nor that so much time has passed. Time stretches over us like gauze wrapped too finely, sometimes we sense it might break as we wrap ourselves further and further back and forward in time. But it never does; moving forward I wrap myself in memories to keep reliving those days gone past.

I went into labour in the middle of the night (why do babies always want to come when we are asleep?) on a spring May 26th in Winnipeg. 26 hours later she was born right on time, due date baby and she has been either early or prompt ever since. This girl is continuously in a hurry, to get started, to get done, to walk, to live, to do it all Now and not a minute too late. She sucks the juice out of life.

A new chapter is about to start in her young life as she moves to live in her 4th country. And she is still fresh, half baked, and not yet ready to settle for anything less than her dreams dictate.

A young woman poised to take off and I give her the wings and hope the parachute of lessons I have wrapped around her shoulders will open and carry her all the way to safer ground.

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Filed under I have two girls

Africa, time passing, movies and leopards: or what is in the mind when you are sick.

I hate being sick, I mean really hate it. I can’t see the pleasure in lying in bed and waiting until it passes and just knowing that the world is going on out there while you are not. Because you are stuck, waiting and frozen in time. I hate it.

Especially when my mind is so full of the many things I have to prepare to do before we leave. Because that won’t change, time won’t hold on just because I am sick in bed.

My mind is very full, too full to sleep and full of wonder and worry; the very things that make up a move. And I feel the sharp strange taste of nostalgia and regret and sadness and excitement all at the same time.

Moving breaks my heart but it also breaks new ground and that is life, no? That is what the destination is all about, enjoying the journey, finding the surprise. I think life is like a safari, you never know exactly what you will see, but you know it is all out there if you keep your eyes wide open, peer and look and always, always scan the horizon.

I never saw a leopard. And I always said I wouldn’t leave until I did see one. I have been on countless safari drives, even once in the park with the MOST leopards in Kenya, but still I didn’t see one. I scanned the trees for that tell tale hanging tail, I hoped and wished, but still no leopard. I have a friend who has seen three. One up close, right by the car, looking at her with wild cat eyes.

But I did see a cheetah walking away, and lions, lots and lots of lions, in trees, walking, sleeping, grooming.

So I will have to come back for the leopard, I imagine. Maybe that is the trick of the gods to get me back, to tell me that me and Africa are not done, finished quite yet.

Lots of time to think while sick in bed. And make lists in the head and on scraps of paper lying about, backs of credit card bills and envelopes. I have lists littering my mind and house now. They will all come together and be done, when they must.

And one good thing about lying in bed, under the weather, poorly, feeling sorry for myself, is that I watched 3 movies. Good ones, too.

The American, with Mr. Clooney, always dashing and silent with his sideways smile and his dark hooded eyes. Beautifully shot, lovely Italy, sad but good, obviously was a book once, the story feels like it was written and not just composed on a story board.

Conviction with Hilary Swank based on a real story. Also good, meaty, brother and sister loyalty and faith and love with a solid dose of  hating the evil justice system. Good old American good vs wrong story and of course we all know who wins those . No one makes a film where good triumphs so absolutely like the Americans.

And finally a film that is hard to place, to put my finger on, but beautiful and pulsing with life and questions and beauty and wonder and failings and love. It’s called Mammouth. See it . Tell me what you think. It is one to discuss and pick apart over a glass of wine or two, or three.

Except I still feel sick so no wine for me, not yet. Wait till this African bug passes. Like everything else.

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Filed under observations

ha!

Police here are notorious for stopping cars for no apparent reason and doing random driving license checks. Both myself and Handsome have been in the unlucky position of being stopped, whether for a license check, a dirty windshield wiper, talking on a cell phone and once Handsome was even stopped and asked for a ride!

I had not been stopped or ages and the last time I had my Canadian driving permit which, really, you should not drive with here after the first 3 months. So yesterday when I was pulled over and asked for my license I could see the smug look in her eyes. She was sure she was going to see a foreign permit and get some cash out of me. A 20,000 shilling note left on the passenger seat normally sorts out all sorts of problems. But this time I smiled, showed her my shiny Ugandan Driving License and waited. I detected a faint glimmer of disappointment in her eyes and then she said: “ok, have a good day.”

“Thank you”, I beamed and drove off.

Leaping over those hurdles to get that permit was so worth it.

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Filed under Kampala

It’s a First World Problem

This is what I call those problems that we are so lucky to have. Now and again we can push aside the guilt and just have a good old fashioned whinge and moan over a first world problem. Oh woe is me.

Problem # 1:

I changed the SIM card in my iphone to a Bahraini SIM when we went over for our visit and when we got back the thingy that is supposed to spring open when you stick a silver pin in ( and yes I still have the original one that came in the box)  didn’t work. So I couldn’t use my phone. Stuck with no iphone. For a whole week I was back to the cheapest Nokia on the market, known here as a Katoche, and I was all cross thumbs trying to figure out and remember old school texting. I hated it but what I hated more was the thought that if I broke my phone getting the SIM out I would have no phone when I moved. So I decided I need to suck it up and live with Nokia for the foreseeable future. But oh I did miss it so.

Then a very nice man at the very expensive Apple shop here in Kampala (his new name is now Hero) fixed it and I am happily reunited with my beautiful phone once again.

Moral of the story: Once you go iphone there is no going back. Spoilt for life.

Problem # 2:

Do I buy the 24 inch or 27 inch? Does size really matter?

Problem #3:

I found a roll of Kenyan Shillings and headed down to the back to change them, having no real idea of their value in Ugandan shillings. The highest note here is 50,000 which is about $25 or close enough. Strange, I know when you are familiar with $100 bills and 50 pound notes. So when I changed my money I was given such a thick wad of notes that I couldn’t close my wallet.  First and only time I have ever felt like a drug dealer.

Problem # 4:

I have given up on fresh milk. There have been one too many incidents of lumpy cottage cheese poured into my morning coffee and I am now Long Life all the way.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West

M7 Celebrates

I did not gather with the crowds to celebrate Mouseveni’s inauguration. I consider such celebrations and the exorbitant expense of fighter jets and extravagant elections campaigns rather sour and in poor taste  in the context of recent rioting,  protests and the dire lack of access to health care for the majority of Ugandan citizens.

However I was very grateful for my bonus day off. I specifically ordered a bright and beautiful sunny day by the pool and that is what I got. Playing the Proust Questionnaire Game ( back page of Vanity Fair for those not in the know) with good friends is a perfect way to pass an afternoon in my opinion.

And certainly one of my favourite occupations. ( question on said questionnaire.)

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Filed under Uganda

Occupational Hazard

We pass this sign everyday on the way to school and it drives Princess and Trooper crazy. It’s the apostrophes; they cannot comprehend how Alfredo can have a dine out or even be dining out with all those apostrophes in the wrong place.

That would be the problem of having an English Teacher as a mother.

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Filed under Miss Teacher