Tag Archives: sleep

Thing ones and thing twos.

Just a few simple questions that I am mulling over when I should be asleep.

  1. How is it possible for someone to steal a laptop and not feel even a little bit bad? Does poverty just simply eradicate the guilt most people would feel upon taking something that doesn’t belong to them?
  2. How do you tell a parent that their child is just not very bright and actually quite vacant? I know it is so much easier to just blame the school, and I know you think your child is a perfect 12 year old genius and I do realize that the bad marks can’t possibly be her fault.
  3. How did someone find my blog by typing in kill chicken? And more importantly why are so many people searching for Kill Chicken so often?
  4. How can passion fruit taste so divine but look like frog spawn?
  5. Why is it that after making an announcement 3 times, people still don’t do what I had announced?
  6. Why doesn’t everyone back up their computer?
  7. How can some people be so immune to bad smells while others gag?
  8. How did Africa end up being the gigantic rubbish bin of the world? Please believe me when I tell you that what ends up here is what no one wanted to buy in the West.
  9. What do bed bugs look like and how do they get into bed?
  10. The auto focus is not working on my camera. How do I know if it is the lens or the camera? How can this situation be attended to over here?

The mind boggles.

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By the light of the moon

My wish for a day off did not come true. Eid was declared to be on Sunday rather than Monday and all the finger and toe crossing came to nothing in the face of the moon. There is something quite extraordinary about the fact that in this high tech/high speed world some things stay very simple. It is only by looking at the moon that the date of Eid can be ascertained. The city was in a festive mood and celebrations went on late into the night. Far too late in some circumstances.

The disco which lies directly outside our front gate normally has an enthusiastic evening on Friday and Saturday and usually ends by around 10pm. Last night, however they were still going strong at 2am and in between each number the DJ enjoyed grabbing the mike and yelling with glee and fervour at his patrons. It can only be described as torture. As I lay awake, pillow clenched over my head I repeated the mantra over and over again: “Make it stop, make it stop, make it stop.” Eventually I turned on the light and read. There was no fighting it. I did have some violent fantasies concerning the throwing of hand grenades but they only made the pain worse. I hate to be a party pooper but there is nothing more selfish than depriving another of sleep. Especially when she needs to confront various teens in a classroom the next day.

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Kampala Nights

I don’t sleep well here, not yet anyway. I need my shipping to arrive so that I can have two pillows, one to sleep on and one to put over my head. Either that or I will be investing in a pair of ear plugs.

Once I am awoken by some noise, the buzzing of a mosquito, the coughing of a husband, I am awake and there is nothing I can do about it. I simply lie there listening to the sounds of the night. I am of the opinion that one of the main disadvantages to marriage is the sharing of sleep. If one person sleeps badly the other does too. In Trinidad we had one of those incredible bowling ball beds (so called because if a bowling ball were rolled next to you, you would not feel it. I have no idea who thought that anyone would be bowling on a bed at night, but there you have it.) In any case, the bed was amazing and my sleep was good. The mattress we have now is called orthopedic, translation: hard as hell foam that is like sleeping on the floor and therefore good for your back. I will get used to it in time but what may take longer are the sounds of the night.

It is so tempting in these first weeks to think back to our previous life and compare. I don’t vocalize these thoughts as I am intent on staying positive and making sure everyone is up beat and cheerful most of the time. We are not keen on complaining and morose behaviour is discouraged. Did you hear that Princess?

However, I cannot help, while lying awake for hours at night, but to compare the sounds of a Trini night to one in Kampala. Nights in Trinidad were accompanied by a chorus of frogs, high pitched chirping tiny frogs that went on and on and on. Crickets played their part too. Mostly the sounds were drowned out by the white noise of the air conditioner. It was a pleasant atmosphere in which to sleep.

A Kampala night, in our new house where our bed lies under a open window, is a whole different story. There is a loud African disco that play quite intriguing African music until about 10pm. Then the dogs start. It seems every dog in Kampala conducts some massive conversation back and forth between the hills. It reminds me of the scene in 101 Dalmatians when the dogs invent a help line over the country side.

In addition to the dogs we live very close to a Mosque. Need I say more? The Mosques here are not synchronized so often we can hear the calls to prayer overlapping in stereo, some from afar and one very near. I am pleased to say that the voice calling the Muslims to awake is far gentler than those in Indonesia that seem to scream “GET UP YOU LAZY LOT AND START TO PRAY!!!!!”  This foghorn projects a slightly different tone. More of the: “OK. Time to roll over, get up and come over to pray.” As you can see I have had the occasion to listen carefully to all the intonations.

Then the birds start and at about the same time, the Roosters. It is still not light yet but the animals think it is wise to get a head start.  Once the dawn breaks the smell of burning charcoal wafts into our room as people in the mud and brick houses all around us begin to cook breakfast.

By the time my alarm goes off I am finally fast asleep.

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The Worst Night Ever

So we have arrived. Africa greets you like a giant slap to the face. Within minutes you are here and there is no gentle easing oneself into the pool. The drive from the airport to our apartment was quite fantastic, mothers with newborns on the back of motor cycles, street vendors selling everything from bikes to beds and a red dusty road stretching all the way to Kampala. By the time we arrived at “home” we were hot, dusty, tired but excited.

Then we entered our new apartment. Now I am not a princess and I can rough it like the best of the city girls. I have travelled through India and Egypt staying at accommodations quite far down the shabby scale. Back in my backpacking days we had one rule: cockroach leave in the morning, rat leave tonight. I had hopes about our housing and they were not high but the place that we were given is below those low hopes. With a grim smile and thoughts of paint brushes and curtain fabric dancing in my mind I said thank you and prepared to unpack.

My eldest said, in her bravest and politest voice, “if we stay in this place maybe we can just stay here for no more than two years”. My sensitive princess youngest just threw herself onto the nearest bed and wept.

“Let’s be brave!” I suggested holding back the tears. After all my biggest fear about this move was the housing. My home is my nest and being comfortable and feeling at home is more important than anything.

We went out for some excellent Thai food with a couple of teachers and started to feel better. This could work! A lick of paint, come good friends and a great school! This would be fine! Then it was time for bed. The shower curtain only came up to my knees so by the time we had all bathed the whole apartment was wet. The beds were thin foam mattresses and rather than a sheet we had acrylic blankets and very lumpy pillows.

After two hours of sleep I was awoken by the buzzing of a mosquito. If I was ever inclined to torture someone I would pick the interminable buzzing in the ear as the way to go. One hand free to swipe and the other pressing a blanket to the head became the preferred position of sleep. But once I was awake that was it. I was free to listen to the sounds of dogs fighting, cats calling, people singing, music blaring and bugs crawling. I was greeted by a super sized roach in the bathroom who looked up at me and declared a war.

The rest of the night was spent warding off the mosquitos, scratching, listening to the call to prayer, the rather early rooster who seemed to have forgotten to wait for the sun rise, and the rising panic that perhaps this was all a giant mistake. I had ripped my girls away from their home, their friends and all the comforts of the 1st world for a grim apartment and roaches. Was I mad? There is nothing like the middle of the night to bring on all exaggerated fears and worries. And there is nothing like the morning to gain perspective.

I woke up ( once daylight arrived it became strangely quiet) determined to

A)find a new apartment and

B) buy some mosquito nets.

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