Humbled by Latkes.

One of the reasons I’m glad to be an adult is that I’m no longer made to attend  gatherings against my will.  I choose whether or not I want to remain in a particular space and this has everything to do with being able to afford a boda boda at any given time.

My parents were determined for me to grow up a social, religious and well-rounded individual. This meant I had to attend youth conferences, Christian home cells and other such things. To do away with awkwardness, we, the youth, were always loosened up with “ice breakers”, little questions to get us talking to each other. One of the most common ones was, “what are your hobbies?”

As a teenager, the three things I truly enjoyed were eating, eating and cooking. I had other interests, somewhere in the background but those three made my life worth living. And yes, I know I’ve mentioned eating twice. I hasten to add that I did not have an eating disorder. I just derived all the pleasure that I derive from other things now, from food.

This wasn’t something I could reveal to other teenagers just like that. They’d judge or giggle or act like I wasn’t cool because talking on the phone and sneaking off to daytime kadankes didn’t appeal to me enough to be included on my list of hobbies.

I have more varied hobbies now but food, the cooking and eating of, remains among my favorite things. I try to have a little project every week. If it is Masala chips this week, it’s perfectly done peri peri chicken the next. I get a feeling of accomplishment just from bending over a steaming saucepan with a printed out recipe in one hand and a mingling stick in the other.

About a week ago, I happened upon latkes on a food blog. Latkes are a Yiddish food, a Hanukah staple and they look really delicious on the internet. I hunted around for the best recipe and then messaged my boyfriend, asking him to prepare his mouth for good things.

Like these

Like these

Together, we followed all the steps of preparation. I grated irish potatoes and cracked two eggs. He cut up ingredients, squeezed the starch out of the potatoes and radiated that very vital ingredient, enthusiasm. I then mixed everything together and heated a thin film of oil in the largest pan I could find. I know now that the oil I put wasn’t enough to cook the potatoes properly, but then, I was determined to follow my recipe to the letter.

The first two latkes looked like rebellious worms and didn’t stick together very well. I put them on a plate anyway and made Roger taste them. His face remained blank as he chewed, giving me so hope that perhaps, the ugly looking things tasted OK.

After swallowing, he said, “This tastes like paspalum. You know, the grass. This tastes like grass.” I tasted them myself. They tasted like grass.

He crunched again on an obviously raw clump of eggy-irish and said “It’s like we’re goats!” By this time, tears were streaming from my eyes and I was barking with laughter. I agreed with him and observed that we’d have to be very proud and foolish not to abandon the project. He wasn’t done commenting.

After taking a picture of me staring forlornly at the one remaining latke, he said, “In the picture, you look like mother who’s just given birth to a very ugly child.”

Really bad looking latkes

Really bad looking latkes

We further ruined the irish by trying to make it into a stew, but that’s a story for another day. My latkes weren’t a success, but I enjoyed making them. What’s my next project? Latkes again, of course! I won’t rest until I make crisp, golden, spicy, heavenly smelling potato pancakes.

Read his account of that day’s happenings HERE.

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Come jump with me

How much of Uganda have you seen? What does a holiday mean to you? Because whenever my friends are making holdiay plot, they say, “Let’s go to Mombasa. Or let’s go to Zanzibar and have the time of our lives. We won’t live forever!”

I love traveling and I love writing, so becoming a fulltime travel writer is one of my biggest dreams.  Things are already coming together. I am now working with Sabili Tours, a fantastic travel agency that is taking me on all of their trips in exchange for my words. Aren’t I lucky?

The first one is to jinja, where I am going to sail the Nile and then choose between bungee jumping or white water rafting. I’m 99% sure that I’m going to pick bungee jumping because 1, I am terrified of it (challenges ooye!!) and because white water rafting involves too much bumbly bumbly. Rowing is just hard work. So. Bungee jumping it is.

Uganda is beautiful. And weird. And fun. And terrifying. Don’t be spending moolah travelling miles and miles to other countries before you have fully experienced all of the madness that your home has to offer.

Friends, come and we go? Sabili Tours is looking to make dime, obviously, but one of the reasons I respect their cause is that they are truly passionate about Uganda, and about the disadvantaged among us. 10 bob off every ticket is going to a charity called 40 days 40 smiles.  Here’s a poster (created by Solomon Isanka)

sabilli tours prev (1)

Kawa. I have told you. Now let me prepare to go to the beach with my lover.

Either teach well or go home (and kill yourself).

Church was once a staple in my life and slowly, I am starting to find true enjoyment in the word of God again. This article isn’t about my spiritual awakening (which I hope will last this time). It’s about the way people in positions of influence deliver their teachings.

One Sunday last November, one of the pastors at Watoto Church was talking about his wonderful wife and the lovely things that she’d done for him on his anniversary. It was very sweet. He even insisted she come up and sing the song she’d sung on the day to much cooing and clapter*  from the congregation. He remarked on how beautiful she is and how more women need to obey their husbands, especially when it comes to how they look.

He then said, “But some women just cut off all their hair” while making a comical sweeping motion over his head.

I bristled with indignation, and not only because I have chosen to rock a nearly bald head.

Like this

I miss the days it was like this

The pastor’s joke made the entire congregation look around and eyes lingered on those like me with little or no hair. In that moment, I wondered what it would be like to be married to somebody like him and let me tell you, what I envisioned wasn’t a fun experience. I saw a guy who would whine endlessly and be very aggressive about letting you know how he wanted you to look. Just imagine if a Christian couple in attendance was fighting about style choices. On hearing Pastor’s words, whatever headway they’d made would be lost.

A lot goes into a way a person looks. Mood, emotional well being,  fashions, personality, etc. Style is an intensely personal thing. Even in a long term relationship where you’re committed to loving the same person forever, both individuals retain the right of choice.

If you want to change your partner’s style to suit your tastes, don’t do it by shaming them or comparing them to others. Spitting Bible verses won’t work. Belittling them won’t work. Writing blogposts about them won’t work either . Give them a reason to want to acquiesce to your whims. Make them feel comfortable enough to adjust their style in a way that will make you happy. The way a person looks should be their decision, an act of service (to you, their partner) and not one that leads them to doubt themselves.

People in the Education sector are another group that need to be careful about the way they deliver their wisdom. Their job is to instill confidence, manners and a sense of decency in the children that pass through their system year in year out. Instead of doing that, our teachers and school administrations are filling young people up with their own warped sexual politics.
How can a school profess to be against trousers on girls or tight uniforms and then turn around and allow their girls to wear barely-there dresses during prom? If they really thought that trousers caused uncontrollable lust to surge in the hearts and minds of the males in the system, they wouldn’t allow girls to wear them during dances.

A school like Seeta High bars female visitors from entering school grounds if they are wearing trousers, causing much embarrassment and irritation, but allow their students to swim semi-naked in a pool which is not far from the staff room. Where is the logic? Selective morality is dumb and needs to end.

Our young need to be equipped with feelings of equality, self esteem and affirmations, not insecurities and hypocrisy.

James 3: 1 says Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

If you can’t teach well, go home.

*clapping and laughter

Why I Need Feminism

Whenever I arrive home before dusk, I pocket my boda money and walk down a path that cuts through a beautiful hill. I love this shortcut because it gives me a workout and speeds my transition from an office drone to the happy, cheeky Mildred they know at home.

After a downpour though, the path becomes hell. Shoe-swallowing ponds develop, frogs jump unexpectedly out of the thick grass and the mud becomes treacherous. I use the path regardless and every time I survive a fall, ask myself, “Mildred, are you secretly suicidal?”.

Things get bad

Recently, I slid badly and in the process of steadying myself, looked behind to find a man watching me. I think he wanted to pass, but didn’t want to speak to me, so he just stood and waited. My first thought was, “what kind of MAN stands there silent when a WOMAN is falling in front of him?”

This was followed by a shame that hasn’t left me yet and a realization that I need to spend more time working feminism out in my head. I wouldn’t have had the same expectation of another woman. I’ve been conditioned to believe that a man owes me protection and compassion, just because I’m female. Is this equivalent to the way random men feel its normal for them to approach me with a sexual agenda on the streets of Kampala? Or is a society judged by the way it treats its women?

This brings me to the study recently conducted at Makerere which revealed that 6 out of 10 campus girls feel obligated to sleep with a man who has “spent” on her. Sadly, I recognize this impulse. I condemn it in the strongest terms possible.

Chivalry has become a sexist trap. It is “expected” that a man will foot the bill when he’s wooing a woman but today’s guy, when he does this, feels like he’s paying both for the food/gifts and rights to vagina-time. I advise that dates be subjected to thorough discussion beforehand. Who is paying? Why? What are the expectations of both partners? Relationships need to be negotiated like business deals.

I struggle with the name of this column (Stiletto Point) because of the shade it casts on my content. Before reading me, people assume that I only write about ‘cute’ and sparkly, ‘girly’ things.

It also attracts weirdos.

At a party one time, a stranger recognized me from Barongo’s excellent caricature. I was happy until he started to complain about how all women writers are irrelevant man haters. This is the moment I should have walked away.
He then said that women are not equal to men in the workplace because they’re less productive due to periods and maternal leave. An argument ensued but I soon realized it was useless and proceeded to order cocktails and to point the waitress in his direction. Small victories.

Women’s bodies are not considered their own. Abortion isn’t frowned upon because fetuses are being denied the right to life. If that were the case, children would not be denied the right to life everywhere around us! Hunger, war, apathy and abuse has done more damage than abortion ever will. We’re perceived as baby-ovens and not human beings with the right to be selfish with our space, bodies and finances. All the rabid pro-lifers in Uganda  need to dedicate more energy into healing those broken, irresponsible, badly-brought up men who yell “Kill it!” at confused, scared and emotional women. Let’s start with that.

Feminism is a cry for social change by people who are fed up of being abused and treated like half-humans because of the sex they were born into. I need feminism and so do you.