Friday, February 24, 2017

Taal be sura

Hola peeps. 

The Oscars are on Sunday and like this time last year I am desperately searching for an Oscar party in Juba. Like this time last year I am probably going to end up following it online and watching the actual ceremony weeks later on David’s couch in Kampala. Joy oh joy.

It is almost end of February and though I do not make "resolutions" at the start of the year, whatever, ahem, goals I set are already faltering. I had planned to curb my sugar crutch after I discovered my UK dentist had taken out a second mortgage based on revenue projections from fixing my cavities. Still struggling with that. Add to my struggles blogging at least once a month, learning a Bible passage a week, and inserting three new words into vocabulary on a weekly basis. What is a synonym for ‘insert’? Or ‘three’? Or ‘vocabulary’? Oh drats!

One target I have sorta, kinda steadfastly stuck to though is learning Juba Arabic – a mix of Swahili and Arabic - by the end of the year. Returned from the Christmas break to find a neighbor had the same plan and had actually found a tutor. It was a sign, there was finally someone to practice with! Then I flew to the UK for my daughter’s 5th birthday and even though I packed my Juba Arabic notes I didn’t open a page. The good news is since I returned last week I have jumped right back into it. Now I can understand gist of certain conversations whereas in the past I just smiled and did my patented “hey, I am a foreigner, what do you expect from me?” shrug. Come to think of it, maybe I should continue pretending I do not understand the lingo and catch people out. Catch them out on what exactly? Who knows, just me being paranoid. Watching the news lately will do that to you.

Nowadays I just skip channels and try not to click a link whenever a Trump-related story is brought to my attention. I recently renewed my US visa and made a short trip to the US earlier in the month. This was just after the travel ban was rescinded by the courts and as I was still antsy all messages on phone were erased. Even pictures were deleted so that after 8 hour trip from the UK I don’t get sent back due to some innocent joke or tweet. Surprisingly, I was waved through and barely spent any time at the immigration queue. Going to be an interesting four years watching the developments in the US.

So how’s 2017 treating y’all so far? Tamam? I am really excited as things are progressing on the job front and for the first time in a long while Juba is safe. Yup, no more gunshots outside window, no daily reports of random robberies and killings by “unknown gunmen”, nada. Folk that spent the Christmas holidays here remarked at how peaceful it was, so I chose to find out for myself a few weeks back. After late dinner I decided to drive around Juba from 10pm. As I left the house something in my head kept asking, “You sure you okay? What if you get beaten up again? What if you get robbed?” But my heart kept humming the chorus to “No Easy Way Out” from the Rocky IV soundtrack…..There's no easy way out there's no shortcut home…There's no easy way out givin' in can't be wrong….Why that song? Dunno. All I know is since my kickboxing coach has taken to calling me Champ or, my personal favourite, The Drubber From Juba, I have felt invincible. So much so that I am thinking of moving from sparring 1 hour twice a week to partaking in an actual exhibition fight in April. I kid you not. I attended a fight in December where some dude got his lip clubbed it was as if he had had one of those botched plastic surgery jobs that celebs get after they slide from A to D-list and can only afford to go to pizza delivery guys moonlighting as surgeons.

Before I continue I must first rant at technology. L&G, never ever ever buy a Nokia Lumia or a Samsung Galaxy Prime. I try to spread love amongst tech companies by using an iPad and phones by two different vendors. Never again. The crap Lumia conflates phone numbers from different contacts and the Samsung joke of a phone deletes contacts during its time of the month. Just received a call and went on for a minute before I realized I was talking to someone else, not the person listed as the contact. Not to worry, I bought some overly complex HP phone that came in a massive computer package. Now that I think of it, the crap phones have sure kept my life interesting in past few weeks as I got to talk to peeps I haven’t connected with in yonks. Oh well. Goodbye N.Korea Lumia, goodbye Samsung Galaxy Puke.

Okay back to botched plastic surgeries…so as a result of the facial reconstruction I experienced I swore I would stick to strictly sparring with coach and never engage in an actual fight. The week afterwards a Spanish neighbor was teaching West African dance classes and she invited me along for support. Although there were about ten of us I have never felt that self-conscious in my life. I love dancing, I feel I do a good job at it, but following a choreography with others watching? Nah, that was a step too far. Now it makes sense why I always make a comic show of it when dancing in public or why my boyband career never took off. I walked outta that dance class knowing I’d rather get smashed in the head than dance like that in front of strangers again.

Thus, armed with coach’s hype and the Rocky IV soundtrack in head I drove around Juba and though I was stopped by security personnel they checked car for weapons and gladly waived me on my way when they didn’t find any. Was so confident I even practiced some rudimentary Juba Arabic on them. First spot I stopped at was nigh empty and was bored after 5 minutes. Ended up venturing into areas of Juba I would not normally visit at night to further confirm the veracity of “safeness”. Nada happened, a pretty uneventful night.

Last weekend I decided to give it another try and hopped from packed place to packed place. Seemed all of Juba finally figured out it was once again safe to go out at night! Bumped into a few friends and had great fun. Highlight of Friday night, however, was a mate’s girlfriend. I couldn't take my eyes off her. If she was in Nigeria she would get dissed as having “sneakily watched music videos from a neighbour’s window ‘cos she was too broke to own a telly” ‘cos she tried to execute an atinga or I think that’s what she was trying to do, that ended up looking like a sumo wrestler attempting a shinko while having a bad case of the runs. She also did this weird thing where she would suck in her bottom lip like she had an overbite and stare dance partner dead in the eye as if trying to hypnotize him. Look into my eyes, you are starting to think this epileptic fit of a dance is the best thing since sliced bread, aren’t you? Look into my eyes and not at my overbite…

After the initial agita following the West African dance class I started doubting if I could actually go through with three 3-minute rounds of intense fighting. (I daily fool myself into thinking) I have a high pain threshold, but it’s stamina I especially need to work on. You don’t realize how long three minutes is until you are getting your arse kicked. Like I tell anyone who would listen I am pretty bad ass at start of a sparring session and not even Van Damme can get with me….for the first 12 seconds. Afterwards I start panting and wheezing like a 10 pack-a-day smoker. It’s easy during the sparring session as I tend to distract the coach with tales of goings-on at work or ask him questions I already know the answers to in order to catch my breath. How am I gonna do that in a real fight?

‘Cos of stamina issues I signed up for yoga class hoping it would help with breathing. Wait, it just occurred to me my entire existence in Juba is affiliated with kickboxing in one way or the other!
Yoga class? To aid in breathing during kickboxing.
2ice weekly Taekwondo class? To help in hip movement required for solid kicks in kickboxing.
16 minute treadmill workout in gym? To build stamina for kickboxing.
Watching hypnotic overbite dancing queen? To find a story to distract kickboxing coach with when trying to catch breath during sparring session.
I could go on and on. Even my new chocolate shock therapy - whereby I stuff pantry with chocolate hoping the sight of all that chocolate goodness would force me to quit – I am sure can be attributed to kickboxing. Before I came to my senses (literally) I deigned to quickly guzzling ineffably cold water right from the freezer hoping the resulting “brain freeze” would simulate punch to the face from a kickboxing opponent. After weeks of doing this I knew I was fooling myself when I accidentally smacked head against the open pantry door and it hurt like crazy. All the brain freeze foolishness didn’t dull the pain, and there’s probably a high chance it was responsible for my forgetting to shut pantry door after another failed attempt at chocolate shock therapy.

My fight-or-not stance is a daily struggle I am yet to conquer. For instance, while at the men’s section at Superdrug I found myself spending too much time staring at facial scrub. I shoulda dashed for the door, instead I ended up with two tubs of lime scented facial scrub as well three bottles of beard oil. U what?! Yup. Was so disgusted with self I immediately went online and ordered a boxing mouth guard. Now that’s what I call MACHO.
Chief called last week to wish me a happy Valentine’s Day. Now some folk (wusses, females) would consider that sweet, but I knew he was thinking I didn’t have anyone to spend the occasion with, so I resisted the urge to call anyone and instead watched a gory war movie war while rapidly quaffing an ice cold bottled water while having a mouthful of mint-flavoured Dairy Milk. Now that’s what I call MACHO.
Bumped into beautician who works at salon close to hotel I spent a year in. She complained she hadn’t seen me in a while and asked when I would next be visiting for a manicure and pedicure. I scheduled a mani+pedi appointment after kickboxing class tomorrow, but I have decided to shave head myself with a razor until after kickboxing tourney in April while growing beard out and applying beard oil to beard and eyebrows to keep them “lit”. Now that’s what I call…well, not sure if it’s macho per se, okay maybe macho-ish, or macho with a lowercase ‘m’? Need to consult the Gillette Guide Book for Real Men first.

Tot ziens and God bless.


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