So back in Juba for a week now and all is tamam. On day of arrival from Uganda I stopped by a pal’s office
and folk made cracks at my presence. They all thought I’d be back in Nigeria
due to recent fighting, but told them I am fully junubi now, thus I have no other place to call home. Was glad to
see folk were okay, and I could tell they were glad to have my solidarity in
these trying times. What’s sad to see is the needless loss of life and property
damage from 4 days of fighting. Folk that were also here when fighting broke
out in 2013 all insist the recent unrest was worse. Oh my.
On Friday, went back to my previous hotel to use the gym - best
spot for leg workout – and did not find any Caucasians, apart from those
working at the hotel. That’s major. On another note, can you believe I was
asked not to pay when I enquired about the gym rate? Yup, they sure love me. Again,
was ace to see everyone unhurt, especially the girls at the front desk I usually
flirt with – trust me I ain’t no roue,
the girls are my soi-disant Moneypenny(s).
Stepped inside the gym and the instructor immediately asked for
my digits. Said he had asked around for my contact details when the fighting
broke out as he wanted to make sure I was okay. “You are my brother”, he said.
Awww. Now y’all get why I was angling to return? This is now my home. Further
proved it by doubling down and extending rent for 6 months, even though
landlord advised to only pay for 3 months “as one can never tell what will
happen again”. I have no choice really, I gotta make company projects in South
Sudan a success; there is no Plan B. #LikeArseneWenger
David still doesn’t get it though. Before I left Kampala he
tried to convince me to prolong stay “until things calm down”. I know he cares,
though I secretly think he would miss my company, especially after I threatened
to give his “camp” a crap rating on TripAdvisor. Don’t get me wrong my stay was
okay, but after dinner with one of David’s friends who made me a better offer I
had to reconsider my options. Nuba, for that is her name, offered me her spare
room with Egyptian cotton bedsheets. Could Dave’s hard bed with a mosquito trap – yes, the mosquito net had so many
holes I might as well have had FREE
BLOOD tattooed on my body for the mosquitoes – compete with that?
I usually get my best ideas while on the bog,
but one of those nights when the mosquitoes were having a buffet on my flesh I
got the idea for a Mosquito Exorcist. He/she would be like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, but for mosquitoes. I am
sensing a (Nollywood) movie ideaaaaa…..When something strange’s in your
neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
Ghostbusters Mosquito Exorcist!
Plus, Nuba is uber pretty, and with her name rhyming with Juba, surely this was destiny (or at
least one of the ever evolving lineups of Destiny’s Child) suggesting I move
camps. Was so excited at thumbing Dave’s nose in it I forgot to take her number
after dinner. Efforts to convince/cajole/bribe/blackmail/subliminal-message
Dave into handing over her details proved abortive. And that was one of my
reasons for not waiting until Dave (and the internet) had determined things had
“calmed down” before returning to Juba.
Another reason for leaving Kampala is I’d missed mint chocolates,
and knew I had some left in the fridge at my Juba apartment. And no, I could
not find any in all of Kampala. It appears there are no more Cadbury’s chocs in Uganda supermarkets.
I kid you not, someone needs to investigate this. One of the nights when I was having
mint-choc withdrawal symptoms, I took a break off developing the story for Mosquito Exorcist: The Movie and mind
wandered back to where this love for mint chocolate actually began.
I was on a British Caledonian flight – yes, I am that old – to or from the UK and reckon
I was about 8 years old. I remember a black air stewardess, no, they were called air waitresses back
then, well, this lady gave me some chocolates and said if I wanted more I
should remember to ask for “mint chocolates”. I recall the chocs came in green
wrappers like those ones on Viscount biscuits.
Man, those were the days…oh to be young and not have a care in the world, but
accumulating mint chocs and Captain McCall bric-a-brac.
Last time (before Kampala) I had similar mint choc cravings was
during trip to Diani, Kenya 2 months
ago. I stayed at the scenic Baobab Beach Resort for the weekend, and wish
I coulda stayed longer…well, except for incident with a monkey, let’s call it Chim-Chim, and my mint chocs.
I arrived at the hotel on a Friday and had to attend a wedding
that evening, so was crazy tired by the time I returned to the hotel. Opened
pack of mint chocs and fell asleep with half-open pack in hand. Early the next
morning my pal in the adjoining room kept insisting I go take in the view from
the verandah. So I go, close the sliding doors behind me, and lie down on the lounge
chair. As was still tired I fell asleep and woke up 2 hours later to discover
clothes thrown outta duffel bag and my pack of mint choc that I left beside bed
in room was gone – actually the choc was taken, but the empty pack was left as
a taunt. It was not until I investigated further I saw
monkey poop around the room. Didn't notice it the night before, but there were signs in the room warning residents to always close doors to prevent apes from sneaking in. So either I didn't shut sliding doors fully when I napped on verandah or I was stumped by one of those monkeys from The Hangover movies that are incredibly adroit at nicking people's stuff. I was glad the culprit monkey had not completed his "freedom" from nicking school as passport, wallet and non-Hublot watch were intact.
Instead of enjoying rest of stay at the resort I kept thinking
of ways to trap a troop of monkeys and torture them until they either pointed
out the guilty party or I got a whiff of mint off the guilty ape’s breath. I
only calmed down after I saw another sign requesting guests not feed the
animals as human food may kill them.
Yup, being the corpse with the freshest breath in the animal kingdom would be condign reward for Chim-Chim.
Returned to Juba and thot I had gotten over Chim-Chim’s antics until I saw a roach as I was about to shower.
Boy, did I take out my frustrations on it. I held a can of insecticide in each hand
and went all gangsta on that poor roach. My inner Tupac came out and didn’t
know I was also spouting the lyrics from Hit
‘em Up - ALL OF Y'ALL MOTHERROACHERS, F%$K
YOU; DIE SLOW, MOTHERROACH.
MY .44 MAKE SURE ALL Y'ALL KIDS DON'T GROW! – whilst terminating the
roach. As I coughed and ran outta the room to escape the insecticide fog that
had saturated it I laughed out loud and couldn’t help but shake head at the effect
candy had on me. No wonder (as detailed in last blog entry) God instructed mate
to calm me down with chocs when I was upset. Man, Chim-Chim sure got one over me. So much so that when I saw The Legend Of Tarzan back in Kampala I
could not help but wonder if I hated the movie ‘cos it was meh, ‘cos Jane left
all the black male friends she grew up and ended up with a jungle boy just ‘cos
he’s white as she was, or ‘cos all the apes reminded me of Chim-Chim. Crap monkey.
While I still choose to remain on the subject, I now understand we
have Spiderman, Batman, and even Antman, but no serious monkey superhero. One, what would his superpower be, slowing down bad guys with
banana-tinged urine? Gimme a break. Two, most folk might not even recognize
their rescuer as a superhero. They will look at Chimpman and probably think, “Hmm, this guy in a cape is so hairy
he must be Greek/Middle Eastern (delete as
appropriate). Am I sure he can really save me from this burning building
without singeing all his body hair?” Crap monkey.
If I ran on a political platform it would be to be tough on
(ape) crime and the (ape) causes of crime. One day is mint chocolate, the next
could be a nation’s economy. Okay, enough monkey
business, back to humans….
Although things are now calm in Juba, one can tell a sizable
part of the population has departed the city. Several businesses remain closed.
Local barbing salon is shut as most staff – Ugandans and Kenyans – skipped
town. My fave sandwich spot no longer opens on Sundays and shuts at 8pm on
weekdays. Drats. Was so pissed I could not get sandwiches after gym workout on
Friday I stomped home and wanted to take out frustrations…..on insects. Luckily
for them I had run out of insecticide. The next morning I soberly searched for
insecticides in neighbourhood stores, but could not find any. It wasn’t ‘til I
went to a large supermarket I saw some. Yup, that search brought a few things
home. Most stuff is imported into the country from Uganda and with the traders
gone stores now lack certain goods one used to take for granted.
Almost forgot to mention when I couldn’t get sandwich on way
from gym I stopped by some roadside vendor to buy what I assumed was beef. Hey,
who knows if it was dog meat I ate, but I was hungry so…..
Feels good to be back in apartment though. Feels like I have
been here for longer, though it’s only been two months. Loving it. Have
sufficient space unlike cramped hotel room, though at hotel it’s easy getting food
from room service. Not sure how much longer I can survive on cereal. Good thing
about this move is for the first time since I moved to Juba I got to experience
the local market when I went to get stuff for the crib. I told you new crib has
a gym and jacuzzi, right? I keep stressing the jacuzzi part, only I don’t know
why. I spent a total of 13 months in hotels and only used the pool once…during
a pool party. Chances are I won’t have the time to use jacuzzi.
As I was in a “new” place I decided to try something “new” and went
for a body scrub after some lady commented on dead skin on face. Never done it
before and it was not a particularly enjoyable experience, though had to make
sure I took a dump and showered before I went there to avoid tales being told
about streaks in underwear, etc. long after I have left Juba.
Reminds me of time when we
used to have a cleaner come by in Atlanta. Miguel and I would pre-clean crib to
ensure it’s in a reasonable condition before the cleaning lady came around. Come
to think of it, the reverse occurs in Nigeria where folk purposely don’t clean
dirty dishes days ahead of a cleaner coming in so “the cleaner can work for her
money.” Similarly, I have had educated folk defend the practice of tossing trash
outta their cars, “after all the street cleaners get paid and if I don’t do
this how will they keep their jobs?” Pitiful.
Anyway, so while lying down on bed scrubber lady remarked on how
the bed suited my size as most of her clients “have their legs dangling over
the edge”. One, I get what she was trying to say as most South Sudanese are really
tall. Two, “the bed suits your size” is probably at par with “you don’t
sweat so bad for a fat person” in list of worst backhanded compliments ever.
I walked out of scrubbing session and was shocked at the number
of men getting mani+pedis. The shock was due to my undeveloped mind assuming the
last thing middle-aged South Sudanese men would think of is getting pampered
with body scrubs and manicures. I hardly encounter such in Nigeria. After
some further investigations I discovered men here prove their machismo in other
ways. For instance, my driver who just turned 40 proudly told me he has eight
(8) kids. E-I-G-H-T!!!!!
I, on the other hand, have continued kickboxing lessons as a
show of my manliness. I am getting better at it, but stamina and sideways stretches
need more work. While swimming in Diani I realized why old folk are encouraged
to exercise in pools: with resistance caused by water one can execute stretches
that’d be otherwise excruciating sans water. While walking on beach I immersed
self in water and did some kickboxing stretches that made me wish I had some
music playing in the background and a montage of stretches could be recorded to
make me look badass like in Rocky IV.
In reality, I would hate
to see a recording of myself attempting kicks with left leg. Almost like when
you see kids at that awkward 4-5 year old stage where they really think they
can dance, but all they are doing is a weird uncoordinated combination that’s indicative
of what Sia would act like on cheap drugs? That is me! Coordinated with right
leg, but left leg makes me kick like an obese girl who has been home-schooled
all her life.
Kickboxing and movies are a bad combo as I now try to impress
chicks at hotel reception by kicking down a bamboo tree – yes, I log a retractable
bamboo tree around in back of car - like my kickboxing hero Van Damme in Kickboxer. So far, in between multiple
visits to the clinic, I only have managed to chop a piece of wood…well, it was
a toothpick, but still, can you imagine the difficulty in chopping a tiny
toothpick with shin? Exactly!!!
Oh, while feeling adventurous I switched abs workout last week from
mat on floor to a reclined bench. Dunno if it was the bench, the shorts I wore
or even the underwear but felt a burn on butt after third set. Shoulda stopped,
but powered through it so much so that after 2 hours I discovered I had a
blister on right arse cheek. It hurts so much I now sit on left side of arse and
have skipped abs workout until it heals. Guess I should not be surprised it
occurred on right cheek as that’s same arse cheek I got what I now affectionately
refer to as my stupid stamp. I am
sure I have regaled you in tales (in earlier blog entries) of how I got it, but
here’s the Cliff Notes version: you
know that adage about boiling a frog in an open pan by turning temperature up
slowly so frog doesn’t notice, well same principle works with this here genius
sleeping fully-clothed with his bum rested on a house heater on a cold winter night in London. Not my brightest moment.
Counting days until next London visit. Mom’s currently there and
I arrive on her birthday. Now I didn’t plan trip to coincide with her special
day, but mom’s gonna be glad to see me and probably gonna think my arrival date
is no coincidence. Am I gonna tell her? Nah, gonna milk it like crazy as I am
already the world’s greatest son ever since I contributed towards the plane tix
for her recent US visit. Man, never seen mom so grateful. She told everyone to thank
me. I am thinking if I knew she’d act this way I’da bought her plane tix
You know the lyrics from You’re
So Vain by Carly Simon? Well, my mom was partly the inspiration for that
song. Growing up, everything just had to be about her. When I started going
bald years ago she blamed it on the fact that I wouldn’t listen to her and
chose to start shaving off hair as a 17 year old, as no other male in family
suffers from ‘premature’ baldness. Yeah, yeah, yeah. It had to be about her,
huh? Being her only son, you would think we would be close, right? We hardly
have anything in common, well, there’s the complexion…and the eyes…and I have
noticed lately I am getting a modicum of her vanity. Sadly, it has to do with hirsuteness,
rather lack thereof.
I recall when I was younger I used to proudly pronounce that I purposely
chose to shave head for the look, and not ‘cos I was balding. Then when I start
losing hair on middle spot on head, it was, well, it’s just the middle spot,
right? Lately, I’m losing hair at the front of head…what’s my vain excuse now, Chim-Chim? That reminds me, it’s time
for my daily dosage of mint chocolates.
Tot ziens and God bless.