In Pursuit of Sharp Hair I

Humans pay too much attention to each other’s bodies. What is he wearing? How long is her skirt? What does her hair make me feel? We are forever poking our noses into things that are none of our business.

I chose to go bald for a little over a year and during this time, my family, (certain) friends and ex didn’t stop devising schemes to get me to wear some hair. My father told me that I’d get meningitis as a result of all the mosquito bites that my large, smooth scalp would attract. He also said I would get headaches and all the exposure to cold wind would freeze my thoughts.

The shoulders of my aunts would droop with sadness whenever I’d walk into the house with yet another haircut. The ex’s tactics were so many and amusing that I cannot do justice to them in one article.

I ignored them all. First of all, I strongly disagree with the notion that a woman’s hair is her “crowning glory”.  A woman’s brain (and the things she can do with it) is what we should be focusing on, people. Not the dead waves and coils of keratin that emerge from her scalp. I refused to yield to the insinuation that the entire experience of womanhood can be reduced to the ability to push dead cells out of a scalp. It was only after I became bored with baldness that I allowed my hair to grow out.

 By the time it was about half an inch long, I was sick of it. I missed the feeling of a cold electric shaver buzzing on my scalp. I missed the newborn alien look that a fresh haircut gives me. I felt like a teenager among all of the S.6 vacists roaming Kampala’s streets. The hair felt invasive and in a last bid to make myself like it, I decided to style it.

 There’s a rather popular hairstyle around town that many people with short natural hair are rocking. They somehow maneuver their kaweke into little spikes that stick out from their scalps, giving a lovely definition to their faces. I knew from research (loads of facebook updates) that this style could be arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge or a palm over the scalp. Thanks to the lovely people on my friend list,  I also knew that a cheap locking gel could be used to achieve this style.

I uploaded this to facebook. it helped a lot.

I uploaded this masterpiece to facebook  and captioned it with the words below:

 

(slightly edited) You guys, I need your help. So I have seen this style around town where people with teenie weenie fros like mine curl their hair into spiky little points. I know from a bit of research that this style is arrived at by briskly rubbing a sponge over the scalp. What treatment do they put in the hair to make it form the spikes when rubbed? I love this style but I’m not willing to pay the insane dimes that a salon  is sure to charge me.  A sponge is 500 and whatever product they’ll use can’t be more than 30 bob. Any(really really) useful information will be rewarded with long hugs and a good meal. 

Because I’m rich (ha), I visited a salon in town for a cost assessment. The shameless lady told me she’d require sixty thousand of my Uganda shillings. I visited another one, this time in Wandegeya because I figured it would be cheaper, what with the bulk of their clientele being broke campus chicks. I was right. Yusuf told me he’d only need 30,000. When I asked what the styling would entail, he became cagey and it was only after great insistence that he told me he’d be putting Ariel detergent in my hair.

Understand that I really wanted this style. As Yusuf washed my hair, I consoled myself that a little Ariel wouldn’t hurt. It was only when I smelled the actual detergent that I chickened out. The thought of sitting in a taxi going from  Wandegeya to Ntinda while smelling like soaking clothes just killed my morale dead. When I told Yusuf to stop, he was very angry. He rejected payment and snarled something about “losers who visit salons to steal knowledge” at my back.

I then took my research to youtube and thankfully, none of the ladies online were using detergent on their heads.

to be continued.

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Pilawo gets me. It understands.

I’ve just eaten delicious pilawo. This is how I feel:

Pilawo gets me for many reasons, but I can only remember seven right now.

No teeth: At this my young age, I have very few working teeth.  Well, I have lots of canines and incisors but like two working molars, so. The less chewing I have to do, the better. Rice is not like bread or crisps. It’s easy to chew ( swallow, when I’m feeling lazy) and the pieces of meat that come with Pilawo are too yummy for me to complain.

Spice is nice: Oh God I love spicy food. I am that cook you’ll love if spices give you the happies and the one you’ll want to spit on if you like your meals plain. Kati pilawo has bayleaf! Cinamon! Black pepper! Cardamom! etc! It’s like a dance party in your mouth.

Hangups:  As a kid, I didn’t have much access to pilawo but I heard lots of mention of it in class. Always, during the “ Christmas of the Muslims  my Muslim classmates would brag about all the pilawo and meat they were going to eat. Nobody at home seemed to understand my obsession with it and to shut me up (I think) ,one of my cousins told me that intestinal goo is one of the ingredients used in the cooking of pilawo. I stopped asking, but my fascination didn’t die. Now I’m an adult with money that I can use to eat all the pilawo that I want (that’s a lot).

Happy wallet:  During rich times, I eat out  a lot. I can end up eating at La fontaine every other day of the week. I just can’t resist their sandwiches. And that stirfry! Everything seems so cheap until I run out of money. Then I’m faced with quaffing bland kikomando everyday for the rest of the month. In a bid to reverse this trend, I’m training myself to think of pilawo whenever the itch for a treat begins. I’m slowly learning to holla at Abid when I want to spoil myself. His pilawo is life changing and only takes a fiver off me.

It’s healthy, yo: Pilawo beats having chips from Kamwokya market every time I can’t decide what I want to eat.  It even has kachumbali with lots of onions. What’s not to love?

Engages the cook in me: Now if you read this blog, you know just how much I love to cook.  I’ve had this battle with Pilawo, where I never have all the ingredients that I need  in the same kitchen at the same time when I feel like cooking it. So frustrating. Every time I order a plate of pilawo, I’m like, “I’m totally cooking this stuff on Saturday”! And then I don’t. But at least it  keeps refreshing my dreams of one day eating pilawo that I’ve cooked with these two hands of mine.

At my desk: My friend Abid is a proper Ugandan. He knows how to capitalize on weaknesses and make people happily hand him money at the same time. We office workers/cubicle rats/wage slaves are usually too unwilling or too fearful of our bosses to go out of office for lunch. Unwilling because, lunchtime is the only hour we can properly abuse office internet. Fearful because coming back late can mean many withering looks and even a salary chop.

The only option is to foot to the neighborhood kafunda, but that works only for the first three months. After that you get tired of the 5 lunch meals on the menu.  What I do is I order Pilawo. I text Abid and get him to deliver a good serving of spicy rice and meat to my desk so that I can eat and at the same time look at gifs for one whole hour.

It is not possible to get tired of pilawo. As I said, it is like a party in your mouth with Major Lazer on DJ duty.

Yes, you know by now that this post about pilawo is also kalango for Abid’s Friday Pilawo business. You’ve caught me. Naye it’s seriously delicious. Don’t miss it.

Image

Peas, soupu, onions, rice, spice, juicy meat. This is some real food.

In fact, Like his page right now.

For a plate, holla at 0705155561.

Lend me your tear tales and I’ll give you mine.

I’ve been doing a bit of reflection lately and that has come with much weeping. Much? No. A WHOLE LOT of crying. Everywhere and damn near all the time. I’ve been crying roughly as much as Kampala’s sky (it has only beaten me in the hailstone department).

During a particularly wild, juddering, snot-on-blouse, veiny eyed session, it occurred to me that crying can be good, even funny fodder for stories if well documented. Now whenever I notice that I am pulling a new style of crying, I grab a pen and write a line or a paragraph describing it. Some of those are really good.

How big or small a crier are you? Have you cried in public before?  Have you mastered the art of crying without tears (where you swallow the tears instead of letting them roll)?  Hi-five me if you’ve done the Chester Bennington scream!

Hi-five yourself if you’ve done the scream without the sound.

What makes you cry? Books? Lost love? A promotion? A demotion?

Losing to your arch nemesis?

And how do you cry? I’d like all of your spicy tear-tales for a short story.

Or maybe a Stiletto Point article. I don’t know yet.

Comment or email mildredwriterchick@gmail.com with some?

Thanks!

I will attribute, of course.

If you want.

Dancing with Marketeers/ Oopa Apenyo Style.

Although I didn’t find the topic of the night exciting, I attended Marketeers night on the 3rd of this month. I figured that the keynote speaker would only have the floor for thirty minutes or so and if he was boring, then that would be the price to pay for the exquisite dinner and the self-esteem boost that always comes from spending time with people who do what you do. Heck, I wasn’t even paying the 100,000 for my ticket. All I had to do was send an email saying yes.

Jimmy Mugerwa, CEO of Tullow Oil spoke on the importance of marketing in the oil sector. This is certainly a necessary topic and I was hoping to glean some real wisdom from his words.

Mr. Mugerwa may be a firebrand in oil and energy circles, but the man is just not an engaging speaker. All I got out of the thirty minute speech was that Ugandans need to open their eyes and grasp the opportunities that come with so much oil being discovered in the country.

After his talk, my workmates and I visited the dessert table to bring life back into our bodies, through our mouths. Have you ever looked at sweets and cakes and fruit and had tears come to your eyes? Have you ever felt defeated by the splendor of it all?

We returned to our table when the emcee was making a call for table captains and all my workmates turned to look at me. I was confused. From their giggle filled explanations, I learnt that every table was supposed to front its best dancer and he or she had to go to the front and shake everything that their momma gave them.

Now if you are a regular reader of Stiletto Point, you know that dancing comes as naturally to me as breathing. I dance on my way to work, in the queue of a bank. I dance on the hills of Kololo when I am working out. Dancing makes me feel alive. It injects my blood with a jolly madness. I happily agreed to be table captain.

Seven other people from other tables walked to the front of the room with me and we exchanged amiable if nervous greetings. I was sizing them up all the while. When we were told to get on stage, three people dropped off. Dancing at the front of the room, they could do. Getting up on stage like some teenagers at a kadanke? That was too much for them.

In the beginning, I didn’t know what exactly we were dancing for. My first moves were Macarena, caterwauling hands and a little waist shaking here and there. When, however, a fellow dancer informed me that we were grooving for a trip for two to Mombasa, well that changed the game.

I felt stupid first of all. Dancing for something small is more fun than dancing for something as drastically fun as a trip to Mombasa. I felt like a circus bear riding a bicycle for treats from its master. But then I also liked the idea of winning. To calm my nerves and kill the indignation that had started to build up, I decided to dance like I would at a house party.

That’s probably why I am now immortalized on youTube in a Point Blank segment, no less, jigging like I just don’t care.

Kampire made 10,000 gifs. She’s the best.

Here, have another gif:

😀

Here is the entire video:

.

Dancing makes my world go round.

Dear Kampala, Mind your Own Heat.

I hear real rain is coming. The sky looks guilty, like a man whose wife just caught his hand inching towards the bottom of a waitress. How noble of it to finally do something after allowing the sun to barbecue us for weeks. As I write this, its clouds are moody, gray and we’re enjoying the coolest temperatures we’ve had in a while.

I don’t trust the sky to resist the sun though. Clouds will eventually part and the scorching sun will proceed to make us suffer as usual.

I had this on my mind as I was chose my outfit last Monday and it didn’t take me long to pick out the most flowery, diaphanous and expansive sundress in my closet. This dress is short, short enough for the fabric of its hem to flirt with the back of my thighs whenever one of these rare winds breezes by. I look precious in this dress, free. In a concession to my status as a wage slave whose body and mind belongs to her employers 6 days of the week from 9-5, I threw a little jacket over the dress.

For a long time, we’ve all wished we could set up fans under our desks to dry some of the sweat sliding down our legs. We’ve had to tolerate the sadists in office who always want the ceiling fan off. One of my friends has semi-permanently moved his desk to the patch of shade under the tiny, dudu filled tree in his parking lot. Things are bad.

Last Thursday as I returned from lunch, I had to stop myself lying down on the cool looking grass outside office. When I settled at my desk, I had a terrible urge to lie on the cold tiles of the floor. On Friday, I walked into Wandegeya’s Green Shop wearing a suit and walked out in a creased cotton dress. I didn’t even mind that the dead skin cells of its former owner were merging with my own skin. This heat has changed all the rules!

So as I picked my outfit out that Monday, I decided that whoever was going to be offended by my thunder thighs could just go and kiss the sun.

I got to office and immediately began craving muwogo, so I slipped out and walked to my muwogo dealer in Kamwokya market. I don’t know where she gets her cassava from, or what tricks she uses to make them so crispy and soft and the same time, but I have never bought muwogo from anywhere else, not since I found her.

Street harassment annoys me when it comes from men, but when it comes from women as well, when they drop all they are doing and holler, jeer, rave and practically weep about a few inches of leg, that’s a whole new experience. Instead of the usual discomfort and fear, I felt a great defiance. I stared back at everybody who made an effort to get in my face and asked them, with my most terrifying glare on, “Why are you staring? Have I got something on my face? Or do you want something in yours?” They looked away every time.

It is (or has been) much too hot for judgment and bias. It is madness to expect everybody to encase their legs and arms in thick fabric in such heat. When somebody who looks like a tourist (white skinned or light skinned with a funky hairstyle) wears clothes that are appropriate for the weather, people stare in awe. When we Ugandan girls do it, people convulse with indignation.

Leave us alone, people. Mind your own heat.

A good Ugandan is a dead one, apparently/ We goooo!

In this society, we openly discuss other people in two instances; when we’re gossiping about them and when they’re dead. It is as rare as chicken teeth that you’ll find two or three gathered, extolling the virtues or achievements of somebody else when they have nothing to gain from doing so. It is only when our propensity to envy is numbed by their deaths that we start to sing about other peoples’ good deeds. Phrases like ‘true Ugandan’ and ‘builder of the nation’ float from mouth to mouth like dust bunnies.

I know some great people doing phenomenal things, people who I’d like to be when I finally grow up and I’m going to start writing about them here. One of them is a fellow called Ganzi. He’s not dead and is doing something that I very much admire.

When was it that we were taught about the ‘tourist sites’ of Uganda? Primary three, right? And how long did you retain that information? I’m willing to bet that you forgot all of it as soon as you’d finished writing that SST paper. Ganzi is a dreamer, pushing paper in a corporate office to make ends meet, like so many other young people. Unlike the rest of us, he’s a doer as well.

A product of middle class upbringing, he’d been conditioned to believe that tourists were the white ladies and dudes in the short shorts and sapatus, traversing the streets of Kampala with large cameras dangling from their necks. He didn’t know many Ugandans who traveled around the country for anything other than work and when he looked into what exactly was drawing people into Uganda,it didn’t take him long to assemble a list of places he’d visit if he could afford to do so.

He conceived of a dream to start and run the biggest travel agency in Kampala, one whose emphasis would be on getting as many young Ugandans to explore Uganda as he could. But he had (and still has) a problem.
When Ugandans talk about going on holiday or honeymoon, they speak dreamily of Mombasa( the poor ones) or places like The Maldives (the rich ones). There is little or no talk of Jinja or Moyo or Mbale or Mpigi. And this is not because these places are boring or ugly. Laziness and bias has closed our eyes to the loveliness around us.

I’m here pointing fingers at you, but I too am one of the people who only pose on social media when I’m travelling out of the country. I even write long, glowing articles about the trips and badger editors into printing them. Terrible.
Can we please take a moment to appreciate just how insanely rich and beautiful this country is? And can we, together, make the decision to pull some of our monies out of bars and boutiques and inject them into our tourism industry?

Spend some of your annual leave jumping off a ledge

uganda-bungee

or watching gorillas mate

Or just hugging

Or…hug?

or staring slack jawed at the view from one of the mountains around lake Bunyonyi.

bunyonyi beauty

Go boil your breakfast in a hot spring

boil eggs

and spend the night under Gulu’s night sky.

Way better than this

Way better than this

Do something constructive with your life and money. Find people like Ganzi and pay them to organize trips for you.

Ganzi is a good Ugandan and a builder of the nation. What are you?

P.s: He’s the man behind this TRIP. Come and we go.