Category Archives: I miss shopping.

A Bonus Sunday, overpriced Christmas trees and rainy days.

A rare treat: a Sunday at home, no work, courtesy of the Islamic New Year.  Happy New Year and welcome to the year 1433.

Not only was it a bonus Sunday but that meant the first Saturday night in months and a Sunday night that felt like a proper, night before the start of the week, Sunday night. Complete with eggs on toast and a side offering of baked beans.

Of course it also meant a 3 day weekend.

And well deserved it was too, after a week that culminated in a day and a half of parent teacher interviews. I was a little worried about getting all the Mohamed’s, Ali’s and Fatima’s straight. I think I did ok, considering that I have about two in each class. One thing I did notice is that the parents were most kind, very grateful to us teachers and that the mothers have an uncanny ability to lift their hands up considering the heavy bling.

This weekend saw more rain. Damp, flat, grey weather that reminded me of a London day in July. I loved it. And I have to risk the removal of my Canadian passport when I confess that despite being 18 degrees Celsius, it actually felt quite cool. Yes, I thought exactly the same thing when people told me it would feel cool. Are said “ are you mad?” I am a Canadian. I have lived in Winnipeg ( better known as Winterpeg in some parts). There is no way I will feel cold, ever, without serious frost bite chomping on my cheeks. But I guess 4 years of heat stroke will do that to you.

Ok it felt cool, not cold and I was just appreciating the seasons, that’s all.

Speaking of seasons….I have wondered about Christmas in the desert. How is it possible? And a Muslim desert, no less. But believe it or not, it is not even December and Muslim desert or not, the malls are top to toe in wreaths, garlands, tinsel and trees. I asked some of my students what the hell was going on and they replied that it was just another theme. And an excuse to shop. And eat out. And party.

So I guess Christmas spirit in all its materialistic glory will find its way to the Sandy Isle.

And here is the first evidence. Turns out you can get real Xmas Trees here. In my naivete I thought that meant there was a place tucked away in a green house that grew them. But no. They are flown in at great expense both to the customer and the environment. Exhibit one:

 

The smallest tree is $87.50 and that is for 1.5 metres. And the largest is a whopping $3.10 for 4 metres.

I guess we are sticking with the straggly, anemic, dwarf tree we bought in Kampala.

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10 things I love

Just because, why not? It is healthy to focus on the positive and the lovely, especially during times of change, upheaval and boxes.

And before we begin I should quickly say that the list below, comes of course after the following:

Handsome, Trooper, Princess, Marks and Spencer’s, Sushi, my iphone and London taxis.

1. Getting lost in a sensual, evocative film and wishing it could never end. I love the movies so much it is quite an obsession, so much so that I have always told new parents that in my mind it is the only notable sacrifice to having children. Babies will impinge on that bi-weekly movie habit. When I was a teenager I remember taping Bunuel’s Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie onto a VHS tape and storing it safely in a box so I could always have it near. Thereafter I started my Truffaut habit and it just moved on from there. In another life I would be studying film.

2.My Mulberry.

It is extremely beautiful and makes me wondrously happy everyday. I shouldn’t have, because it was simply too extravagant for words, but I am so glad I did. My handbag fetish is now appeased and quietened for sometime, this is because I was hunting and finally found perfection.

3 .The sea.

Looking at it, smelling it, walking beside it, swimming in it. It is the place I am happiest.

4 .Shoe shopping. Shoes make me very jolly, and you don’t need to worry about fitting into them. Luckily for my bank balance there is no shoe shopping in Kampala. Scary for my bank balance is that Bahrain has many a yummy shoe shop. But my dreamiest shoe shop is in Montreal; it is called Scarpa and is in Westmount.  I am day dreaming about it now, even that makes me happy.

5. A hike in the woods. I am not a fan of exercise but a good walk outdoors somewhere very pretty and wild makes me very happy.

6. Teaching Shakespeare or an obscure but wonderful poem and the class just gets it, Bingo. Makes me happy every time.

7. Taking a near perfect photograph. It doesn’t happen very often but it does give the best sense of achievement.  Looking at a great photograph taken by someone else gives me the same thrill.

8. The National Gallery, London.

How lucky was I to have compulsory scheduled Art History lectures in the National Gallery? And I still love walking through those hallowed halls. You could say it is as close as possible to a church, for me.

9. The post meal conversation. Picture the scene. Great friends sitting together, the meal is over, the wine glasses still full. The cigarettes are lit and the candles low yet flickering. The night is deep and slow and there is no reason the get up early the next day. The moment is still and perfect. Memories are being made.

10. Princess and Trooper are happily busy with friends, or horses or any such fun. The house is ours, quiet and alone and rare.

Thanks to Belgian Waffle for the excellent idea.

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Being brave, driving, finding snails and the pretty.

I am not writing enough. Perhaps I am in less of a reflective mood and more of a get on with it and cope mood. We are trudging along here with out our Handsome. He is happy over there in our future home; he has survived one sand storm and multiple temptations in the shopping department. He has a car now and is installed in a small and sweet apartment on the beach. And us? Well we have been keeping ourselves sane with homework, Thai food, the occasional Margarita and plenty of cutting out of paper fish. ( Poisson d’avril, ladies and gentleman, will soon be upon us.)

I am being terribly brave and driving all over the place. As one or two of you may know I am very frightened of driving in Kampala, and Handsome Husband did very nearly ALL the driving when he was here. Now it is me behind the wheel and it is amazing what happens when you take away the element of choice. We just have to cope. The bumps, the pot holes, the crazy boda boda drivers, the maniacs who think you can just cut someone off, the pedestrians who assume we will stop or slow down, the nonsensical  magic roundabouts, the lack of traffic lights, I am fighting fierce and doing it all.

Do I have anything else to tell you?

We had a giant snail walking up our wall. Here it is:

And sometime next week I will be another year older. I have purchased myself a lovely birthday present, quite a feat to find something I am so excited about in Kampala and it has been hidden away in Trooper’s room to be pulled out on my birthday. I can’t tell you what it is, because we are pretending it is a surprise.

But it is pretty and we all need pretty things now and again.

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Photo # 12 A heavenly moment in a shop

There is a very special shop in London known to many a tourist called Fortnum & Mason. They happen to have the best champagne truffles in the world. When we approached the Truffle Counter we noticed some divine chocolates laid out for tasting. It was a moment akin to heaven.

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Filed under Great Big Shiny West, I love food, I miss shopping.

The Great Shiny West Photo Challenge

Summer holidays approach, finally and I need a new creative challenge. Once I am let loose from this zoo they call school I will be hopping on a plane and my eyes will pop when I see the Great Shiny West. It has been nearly a year since I did the following things:

  1. Ate ice cream
  2. Drank a Starbucks coffee
  3. Walked on a pavement
  4. Rode a bus or a train or a Tube
  5. Ate pine nuts
  6. Walked into a large clothes/shoes/book shop
  7. Bought a magazine
  8. Watched TV ( that is not streamed on the internet)
  9. Not fret about power cuts
  10. Used a washing machine
  11. Used a dish washer
  12. Ate a strawberry
  13. Walked on a groomed, manicured lawn in a park.
  14. Saw dogs on leashes
  15. Talked to an old friend, face to face.
  16. Didn’t wake up, go to the toilet and check for the presence of a cockroach.
  17. Use a real telephone, attached to the wall.
  18. Look out of a window to see old, tall buildings made of bricks.
  19. Cook without worrying that a fallen crumb will lead to an army of ants
  20. Ate in a restaurant with a crisp white table cloth and a handsome blond waiter serving me a grilled vegetable soufflé.

I imagine the first few days will be overwhelming and I am going to hide my ATM card in the freezer to avert disaster. I have decided that instead of writing lots of WOWs and throwing tons of exclamation marks everywhere (!!!!) and perhaps even shouting on about consumerism and materialistic shallow Londoners who have no idea how Africans live I am going to sacrifice the written word all together. Instead I am going to document my reaction through images.

I will post one image a day for 20 days.  Maybe more, maybe less. Promise.

I will call it the Great Shiny West Photo Challenge.  Each photo has to speak to what I am thinking and feeling about being back.

Too bad I won’t have my new camera until the end of the month…oh dear…first world problems.

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Oh so lovely

Marking? Tick. Reports? Tick.  I am on a slippery water slide heading for the finish line; before I know it Year One will be behind us all.  Last Saturday saw an extravaganza at school aptly named Fun Day. It saw Princess dancing on stage despite her one armed status, it saw Handsome Husband taking his turn as parent of the day at the Parent’s Sports Relay; hopping along with one leg tied to a virtual stranger, his muscles put to the test in the “pull a swimmer” challenge in the pool. I did my turn as cheerleader and happy observer. There was no point in both of us breaking a sweat! Sunday saw us at two parties, one for a delightful four year old, one where we watched England disgrace themselves on a football pitch. I think the four year old bouncing on a rubber castle was more coordinated then most of those over paid grown men kicking a ball.

In the mean time I have started to salivate over the pretty things awaiting me in London. If you know me at all by now you know that I am a frustrated shopper and lover of shoes. A good friend warned me that after being in Africa for close to a year without a break it is advisable to resist all shopping for three days. Yes, hide the wallet for three whole days. So I have turned to the nets for some early anticipatory temptation. Rather like looking at the dessert menu upon arriving at a restaurant  without a care for price, nor calorie.

Look at the lovely things I have found.  I am guilty of coveting. Of course there is an air of being sensible, after all these items do need to return to Kampala and be worn, most likely in a classroom or an event where they will suit. Silly heels are out of the question, obviously.

A Lovely number from Jigsaw here. And another one below:

This one is a pretty little number from Mango.
Yes those will do very nicely. ( From LK Bennet.)

Lovely pair of Pied a Terre Sandals below.
And then this.. Swoon… It is called Friday dress and it is by Anglomania.  Price upon waking up.

I am now going to return swiftly to reality with a attack of the dishes and a sponge bath for the aforementioned one armed Princess.

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Blue Sambuca and Brown Croupiers.

After an evening spent watching Trooper performing in her school play we dispatched her to a sleepover and headed out for some drinks at the most popular Irish watering hole in the city. It is not a place I like, but it is one of the only places to go as there is a dearth of bars in this town. At about 11.30 pm when I was having visions of my bed, it was suggested that a trip to the Casino was in store.  Now, I don’t like casinos and I don’t like gambling. I find the whole concept of putting money on the table, only to lose it minutes or even mere seconds later, quite frightening. I like to hold tight to my money and save it all up for holidays in Lamu or shoe shops.  Still, I was out numbered and not wanting to be a sour puss, I am never sour and certainly no puss; I followed along.

Entering the casino felt as I imagined a morgue to feel. Albeit one decorated in the style of an Egyptian pyramid. So maybe an ancient Egyptian morgue. It was ice cold both in temperature and mood; the room was brightly lit with a bar against one wall serving free drinks ( as they should since they were taking all our money anyway); large tables with bored looking people took up the remainder of the room. A team of all female croupiers dressed in brown costumes looked bored but competent as they cut cards and dealt. There was one other smaller room where a high stakes Poker game was underway. I hid in the larger room.

This was only the third casino of my life. The first was a large, brightly lit and bustling place, Vegas style, in the heart of Lisbon. We went there as a drunken group during a wedding weekend. I have few memories of the event as I was far too tipsy to count my money let alone intentionally lose it.

The second was a sad and dismal second floor casino in Winnipeg in the middle of winter, mid week. There was nothing glamorous about it. I remember the people all looked grey, bored and rather grubby as if they had been there too long and were starting to blend in with the dreary furniture. We lost $60 and it broke my heart. I swore I would never go again, especially as those days I had to teach three sets of ballet lessons to 5 year olds to earn that princely sum.

Yet here I was entering the casino for the third time. Handsome husband likes the black jack and knows how so I just sat and watched aghast as time and time again that nasty lady in the brown pants suit got closer to 21 than us. How could she repeatedly win? Why was she so lucky?  In the end I walked away and tucked back a few free shots of Sambuca. It was blue and tasted of terrible cough mixture.

There was a man who kept throwing chips at the roulette table and the brown clad woman just kept taking them away. Despite the fact that it was far from crowded I was shocked that so many Ugandans had that much wealth to throw away. We were the only white people there, I had expected a larger expat contingent.

The saddest thing about the whole event was not losing money ( we ended up $100 ahead thanks to HH’s luck), it was was the depressing mood of the place. Everyone just looked so bored. It wasn’t even fun, it was all rather desperate and lonely.

I am not going back. My thrills lie elsewhere, not sure where yet, but elsewhere.

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