Caution: Touch the 2 year old at your own risk.

Every Wednesday evening for some time now, my father, siblings and I have opened our home to whoever will come. The line up is usually the same: tea, music and spiritual edification.

We have a resident 23-month-old who is as cute as she is dramatic. She loves attention and adults are all too willing to give it to her.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Also, she wears my heels better than I do.

Kati the more attention she gets, the more dramatic she becomes, which makes adults pay her even more attention. It’s a cycle that when put in motion is almost impossible to break.  Sometimes I am tempted to sellotape a placard to her back reading: Pet this baby at your own risk. All tantrums that occur up to five minutes after your petting are to be quelled with with no expectation of help from the members of this family.

Our cousin Ashley lives right next door and so on one occasion, her mother thought it would be a great idea to bring her over for cell. Now these two girls have only one week’s age difference. They are like twins. They encourage the kawuka of madness in each other.

At first glance, they are the picture of perfection, sitting on a sofa gulping down milk, or lying on a mat, learning how to use crayons. And then you make the mistake of looking away. When you look back they are: Chewing crayons. Creeping to the bathroom. Pulling the cat’s tail. Trying to topple the sugar bowl. Tearing Books. Trying to fry themselves with electricity. Trying to jump off chairs. Licking the bottoms of shoes. Painting their bodies with lipstick. Laying waste to feminine hygiene products. You get the picture.

When Ashley arrived, that was the end of sanity. We weren’t able to concentrate for more than five minutes at a time because to two year olds, everything is an emergency. They demand all of your attention and usually have nothing to fill it with. They just want you to witness their lives as they happen.

A home-cell cannot withstand that kind of pressure and so it  turned into a five-person babysitathon and not even the tricks that I had learned during my weeks of leave helped.

Thanks to my broken leg, I spent almost three weeks at home and was able to really hang out with these girls. According to the internet, children’s minds are more permeable than sponges at this stage and so during the first week, I was all like, “I’m starting a nursery school!”

I tried to create a fun syllabus.The subjects were simple. Snacking, chasing chickens, counting, naming body parts and sleeping. They added secret-fighting, force-feeding one another and giggling to the list. Don’t get me wrong, It is magical when a two-year-old girl giggles but when she is out of sight, with another two year old, you’d better run to the crime scene.

AdorBable! Also, she'd just intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had painstakingly gathered.

AdorBable! Also, she’d intentionally spilled the bowl of kaliisoliisos that I had just painstakingly gathered.

At the end of the cell-turned-nursery school, mama Ashley and I had one main prayer request: For God to give us all patience and the grace to recognize that no matter what atrocities two year olds commit, they are not being malicious.

Actually, there are legitimate reasons why children around this age behave so erratically. Melinda Wenner on Slate writes that, “The frontal lobe, which is responsible for planning, logic, reasoning, working memory and self-control, is vastly underdeveloped at this age and because of this toddlers are really living in the moment, not thinking about consequences…a semi functional frontal lobe also means that toddlers have practically no sense of time and patience and therefore experience wanting as needing…” Look, just read the article HERE.

Her bigass Opwonya foot when she was a few days old.

Her foot when she was a few days old. Big is Big.

In two days, Daniella will turn two. My life, our lives,  would be dry and meaningless husks without her. Happy birthday, baby Danniebooboolocious. You’re proof that Opwonyas are born, not made.

My darling and I

My darling and I

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So I promised Daniella some stories on my birthday

The Girl Who Wanted to be Good.

Once upon a time, not too long ago, there lived a beautiful baby called Kuch.

Kuch was good, great, grand! But also rather naughty.

She could sing Twinkle Twinkle Little star, which is good, so good in fact that,

Twinkle Twinkle little star,

how I wonder what you are.

Up above the sky so high,

like a diamond in the sky,

Twinkle Twinkle little Star,

How I wonder what you are!

At bathing time, she would go to the garden and pick red roses for her water, but then refuse to enter the basin.

2013-08-07 18.18.50

Once in the basin, Kuch would name all the parts of her body, like ear, nose, eye, mouth, hair, chin, teeth, hand, leg, bum-bum but then refuse to wash her hair.

At lunch time, she would eat all her food and say nyummy nyummy nyummy! But then refuse to remove her dirty clothes afterwards

2013-08-06 14.09.30

Kuch could even count up to ten in Acholi, which is good, so good in fact that

Achel, aryo, adek, angwen, abic, abicel abiru, aboro, abungwen, Apaaaaaaaaaa!

But immediately after, she would pull Salvie’s tail.

At night, she would drink all her chac, which is good, but then refuse to enter bed.

She was good good good and bad bad bad but that wasn’t too sad because everybody, even me, is good good good and bad bad bad sometimes.

Beautiful baby Kuch didn’t like being called bad, and would cry for hours if anybody called her that, so she decided to learn how to become good.

So she asked her sister, “Sister, how do I become good?” and her sister sang for her:

Tetete tetete, tetete, tetete x2

Kuch, kot u binu, ting com pa meru i teri ot yo.

Gidigidigidigidi! (while tickling her)

Kuch laughed so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she had remembered, her sister had gone to work.

And then she asked her bother, “Brother, brother, how do I become good?” and her brother began to sing for her

Go to sleep, go to sleep, go to sleep little Kuchie,

Go to sleep…

But before he could finish, she yelled “Oh nooo” and ran off.

Mornings are not for sleeping!

Kuch then went and climbed her daddy’s big bed and asked him “Daddy, do you know how I can become good?” and he sang for her:

TIILE:                      Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 TIILE:                   Nyok Dyel miya wii

 NYOKDYEL:          Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm! Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

 Hm Hm Hm Tiile wic yam kiloko bo Tiile

Kuch danced so much that she forgot about her question. By the time she remembered it, her daddy had gone to work.

And then finally she asked herself, “Kuch, how do I become good?”, and she thought and thought and thought and thought until the answer came to her.

Do you want to know what it was?

Really really?

It turns out that Kuch could rub away the badness by saying: I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

By saying what?

I’m sorry from the bottom of my heart!

And the badness would fall away like chillu and drop to the floor and she would run away from it saying eeew, dirty. Dirty!

2013-08-19 11.39.33

End

 

Hello. Happy birthday to me! In last Sunday’s Stiletto Point, I promised that I would write Daniella a short story. Oh heavens. This has not been easy, and it is still a work in progress. All too often when people try to write for children, they write like they are talking to idiotic adults. I’m not sure if I have survived that bar.

I just put in all the things she knows and the songs I want her to know and then edited like mad.

Anybody who can help me edit the Alur in the Gidi Gidi song, and the Acoli anywhere else, please help. All other suggestions are welcome.

Otherwise be well and enjoy this special day!

I dared Mt. Muhavura and she dared me right back.

When I was leaving for Mountain Muhavura last Friday, I wrote a braggy facebook update daring the mountain to become steeper because I felt I needed a proper challenge to help me forget the week I had had. I got a challenge alright. As I write this, I have one cracked fibula and a body that is still bruised from the various ways I had to contort it as I climbed.

Well I wasn't climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Well I wasn’t climbing ALL of the time. I lay down on the trail and took pictures of my throbbing legs many, many times.

Have you ever exerted yourself so much that even your elbows sweat? Has your body ever given out so deeply that your mind stops recording your life? This is what happened. Halfway up the mountain, I stopped noticing things. I placed one foot after the other like every zombie in every zombie flick you have seen.

If the journey up takes away all of your energy, the journey down steals your patience. I began to fast-walk, and then slow-jog down the mountain. I had become bored with my pace and also competitive. It gets old, watching person after person overtake you. I also wanted to feel fit.

When my knee cracked back and I heard that pop, I fell down and wailed like a heartbroken actor in a Telenovella.

OK like this, only less dignified.

OK like this, only less dignified.

My poor limb. First, it had been ravaged by the spider mites on my herb patch, making it scar so much that I look like I’m wearing polka dotted stockings, and now I had broken it. Central to my weeping was that I would not be able to dance that night. A trip to a new place is not complete for me if I haven’t jiggled my limbs to its music! I was full of despair. Somehow, I got off the mountain. Somehow, I danced. Somehow, my moves did not make my leg break clean in half.

Yea

Yea

When I got to Kampala, my first stop was a hospital in Ntinda that I have been asked to please not name. The medical insurance I have is tied to that place. With the help of my nkoni, I hobbled up the stairs right into a nightmare. I have never encountered such confusion or rudeness. I should have run right out when I saw that the doctor was wearing a tiny pink dress top leggings and strappy sandals. You guys, I work in Advertising. That is my uniform. When clients see me, they go, Oh! This one must be full of crazy ideas. That is NOT what you want to be thinking about your doctor.

Me on a good day, You would not allow me to treat you.

Me on a good day. Don’t allow any doctor who looks like this to treat you.

Fortunately for me, she didn’t seem to have any ideas at all, good or bad and after 30 minutes of spastic, disinterested and distracted service, I was sent away with diclofenac and instructions to return for a session with the ‘sonographer’. The next day, the receptionist informed me that I would need authorization from my office to see this sonoperson. After two hours, she snappily informed me that my office hadn’t called back with the authorization. Now I know the fault wasn’t hers and reserve a big helping of side-eye for my office admin, but surely she could have let me know an hour earlier. I shook my crutch at them all and limped out of their establishment.

I eventually had my leg scanned at Span in Kisaasi, and although I am sure I left with some damaged cells thanks to being X-rayed on a naked table with no protective clothing over the rest of my body, I was happy with their service. The doctor made me feel like I was going to be OK. To distract me from the painful massage (there was a whole lot of swelling but I have been informed that it was very stupid of him to massage my fractured limb), he called me an athlete and told me stories of how basket ballers sometimes have to have their fibulas sawed entirely off.

I finally hauled my ass to a bone specialist and he’s put me in a leg brace and scared me into using my crutch more diligently, because nti I will never run again if I fool around with the healing of my limb.

I feel like an autobot.

I feel like an autobot.

One bright side is that thanks to the fracture, my body requires for me to take almost three times as many calories per day in order to heal properly. You guys August is going to be gorgeous. Fooooood!

Broken Bones, Restructured Hearts and Other News. (Hello August)

Hello August. I salute you. I salute your air with my lips. Here, mwa! Mwa! Mwa! On your 20th day, I shall be four digits older than my birth date. I shall be closer to the glory that my mid-20s are sure to bring.

I of course arrive with drama. My fibula is broken, so you will be my unfittest month of the year, August.

2013-08-01 12.38.30

As I rest, I shall enjoy getting rounder, and I won’t even mourn my stamina too much. I shall throw back glass upon glass of water and tot upon tot of gin. I shall eat all of the livestock and some of the fruit. Perhaps I shall join a gym and tone my upper body up. We’ll see.

My 23rd year has been incredible. It saw me make a year in the most serious relationship I have ever had. I am not a commitment-phobe, now I know. And I am not incapable of loving or being loved! This year also saw me fall out of that relationship. It saw me in the lap of devastation and afterwards, in the face of excitement (and contentment) so bright and thick that I thought I had achieved Nirvana. I am now back to being normal just, so yea that wasn’t nirvana.

This year has delivered me into the arms of herbs and essential oils.

Yay essential oils

My hair smells like peppermint. My pillowcase has wild lavender tucked into it, plucked right off the slopes of Mountain Muhavura.

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Wild lavender all wrapped up in Acacia. I think they are dating!

Eucalyptus oil blesses my water every time I feel pain. Moya (that some call shea butter) is stripping scars off my legs, scars that appeared because of the mubofu spider mites that tried to invade my herb patch.

I regularly bless my bath water with rose petals and mint leaves, plucked from my own plants. I have even gotten into the habit of thanking the plants when I take from them. In other words, my kwemola has reached insane levels, and I am happiest this way.

whosaqueen?

This year, I have stopped being so annoyed by some of the things my father does. I have come to love them instead. His tendency to befriend and invite complete strangers into our home for impromptu dinner parties. His loud way of speaking, my god, he shouts all the time, everywhere. He is so aggressive, even when he doesn’t intend to intimidate or annoy. I have come from flushing with annoyance to beaming with joy and acceptance. This is partly because I am so very similar to him.  I intend to honor him in a Stiletto Point article soon, so let me not over spoil.

During this my 23rd, I have conquered the demons that made me so attached to deodorants (I would have 5, one for each workbag). I no longer spray those synthetic, paraben-filled armpitcides onto my delicate skin. I have made peace with the memories of bullying that went down in Green Hill Academy’s corridors and no longer pay that time of my life homage.

I am in love with my brown. Forget pretending that I am blind to all those times that weirdos have tried to make me feel bad, or lesser because of my dark skin. I have been at war with many demons-ooo!

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

Ayaya who is that? Apenyo.

I am an aloe vera gal. On three separate occasions, people have hugged me at the end of a day and said, “Oh wow, you smell so nice.” Do you know what they are smelling? Aloe vera + Apenyo. The gel mixes with my natural smell to produce musk like no other.

I have never had so many trips lined up in the same time frame as I do now. Last weekend, I was in Kisoro and Kabale drinking, dancing, climbing and breaking legs with the Kampala Hashers. This weekend (or possibly next), I am going to be exploring Lake Bunyonyi with a very lovely person, the best travel buddy in the world really. On the 24th and 25th of August, I am going to be in Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Plans are all over my life like back acne.

I am also part of a competition that explores how stories directly affect readers after production. 46 of us submitted stories on the theme of identity and equality to Writivism, 14 of us got mentors, attended workshops and read to young literature lovers in many of Kampala’s schools. It has been an experience with many ups and downs for me, but ultimately, a great one. I would do it again. The shortlist is going to be released on the 3rd of August, and here’s hoping True to Nothing will be on it.

I am writing (haltingly, with a lot of procrastination and inertia in the mix), I am growing things out of the soil, I am growing myself, my mind, I am living as consciously as I can. You guys, life is good.

Forgive me for not posting last Sunday’s Stiletto Point. I was full of pain and self pity. My leg nanti.

See how I have cutiefied my crutch.

On crutches, but still pretty.

Pretty crutches.

x

Respect My Hunger.

Because food; the eating, growing, cooking, serving and wearing of, is one of my favorite things, I take the service I receive at restaurants very seriously. I feel truly betrayed when a waiter tells me that my order will be steaming in front of my watering mouth in 15 minutes and then 40 minutes later, he or she has not even carried the tomato sauce and cutlery to my table. I become overwhelmed by a  hysteria that, on a good day, will end with my leaving the premises, sobbing quietly into my palms, and on a bad day, have me assuring everybody from the manager to my fellow patrons how they are seeing me for the last time in their lives because I am never coming back! When it comes to food, people have to be truthful and honest. They need to have a sense of honor.

I have met some very interesting waiters and restaurant owners in my time, the most entertaining being a lady who owns a restaurant somewhere in Nakasero. Or is that Kololo? Anyway, it is located close to Fairway Hotel. 

This woman is a real character. It is without a trace of malice that I say she has the demeanor of a tall cockroach. How somebody like that is able to maintain a restaurant that has apparently been popular for years, I don’t know.

Anyway, on the day I encountered this lady, I was in high spirits. It was my graduation day. I had just gained a pretty good degree, considering how many morning classes I had refused to attend while on campus.

Three years down!

Three years down!

My father was strutting and swaggering, as proud as only a father whose first born is graduating can be. My Aunt Cherry was ululating every few seconds. My siblings were radiating awe, and I looked gorgeous. It was a good afternoon and we wanted to crown it with a hearty meal in a restaurant with good African food.

The first thing Madame restaurant said when she spotted us was, “You people who come many many like this! I hope you are going to be able to afford me!” She then turned to my father and said, “You you are bringing so many young girls here this afternoon. I hope you can pay for them all!” I was nearly passing out from the pain of standing around in four inch stilettos and so my focus was on finding a seat, and not this crazy lady’s words. For some reason, dad did not herd us out.

We were soon in line for the buffet. Aunt Sherry is a professional chef and so when I saw that she had declined to pick from four of the bakulis, I asked her what was up. She just shook her head and turned away with what must have been a giggle. It is when we brought our first spoons to our mouths that we realized why our aunt had been so reluctant to serve. Everything was off. From the beef stew to beans to the basket of fried chicken that the woman brought me as a “graduation present”, it was a spit and a lick from being completely rotten. We were all confused. This food was going to cost 25,000 a plate and it was just a few hours away from having maggots.

We left everything untouched and all stood up to leave, apart from my aunt who was, with a very determined look on her face, mixing everything together so that the woman would not be able to serve the same sauces to unsuspecting people the next day.

Food is sacred. People with bad manners should not be allowed to prepare or even sell it.

Matooke peels in mah pits.

I’m a sucker for experiments. Let’s eat catfish for a week! Let’s listen to Tyler the Creator’s entire album! Let’s make our own kwete!

Generally, I’m going to say yes.

A few months ago, Aloikin tweeted about the wonders lemon had worked in her armpits.  She said that if you put her armpit next to a Hollywood one, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference.  

My ambitions are a bit closer to home. Nollywood’s Genevieve is the truth. 

Walahi I was inspired

Walahi I was inspired

Inspired, I abandoned deos and turned to my pantry, the internet and some very strange substances for solutions to vubs.  I then wrote about my experience herehere and here.

On Monday night/ Tuesday morning, a rare and wonderful thing happened: my sister Jerolyn and I were insomniating at the same time! People call us twins on account of how alike we look and how in sync we are  naye adulthood has so much drama that even when you live in the same house, you can find yourself drifting apart from your untwin. Finding her in the living room felt like a trip back to childhood! It also felt like a heart attack because who sits so silently in the dark?

During my deoless weeks, a lovely lady called Yvonne suggested that I burn matooke peels, add water to the ash and rub the paste onto my armpits before going to bed.

All ready to burn

All ready to burn

There’s not much to do at 3.30 am, so Jero and I decided to try this out. It seemed like a simple enough plan. We had eaten matooke for supper, so there was no shortage of peels. A few coals on the sigiri were still hot, so I attempted to bring them to life, for the peel roasting. 10 minutes and a face full of ash later, I suggested that we try the microwave.

The next 30 minutes can be summed up thus: At least we didn’t burn the house down.

After 25 minutes of micro-grilling, we crushed the now brittle peels and ended up with what you see below:

2013-06-25 04.42.54

You guys, matooke peel ash has such a gorgeous, intimate, velvety, coffee like smell. It is so rich, so dark, so wholesome.

I realize I may have just described my ideal mate.  If you are rich (talent counts), dark (um, yea) and wholesome (like butter), this is for you.

We also made some  ginger/aloe water to use in spicing our bath water. We added some of it to the ash and made a nice paste.

I could eat this stuff. The smell!

I could eat this stuff. Smells like many heavens

Unfortunately, ginger is such a bully. Its flavor was all fronting, trying to outshine the matooke peel. On application of the paste, we both experienced a strange tingling sensation (thanks to the ginger I bet). I’m going to use plain aloe water next time.

On Tuesday morning,  I “forgot” to use deodorant, and am happy to report that I only started smelling shady at around 5pm. Win!

Here’s to experiments, new discoveries and deep smelling substances.

:D

😀

P.s: Late last year, I submitted a story to the Writivism competition. It made the long list and has been published on Short Story Day Africa and Reader’s Cafe Africa. It’s such a wonderful high, getting published.

Check my story out you fab person, you.

Dare to Smell: Aloe Vera gel Saves the Day

Aloe Vera is incredible. It is self healing, can survive with little or no attention, is anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, great for skin, hair, genitals, you name it. For a while, I have been writing about the weeks during which I abandoned mainstream deodorant and went on a quest to find a natural substance that would do away with body odor.

 Find Part one here and Part two here.

When I first decided to put freshly harvest aloe gel under my armpits, I was just playing around. I didn’t expect it to work, but it did. It eliminated the stench-causing bacteria in my armpits for three days. But on the fourth day it failed.

My theory is this: Aloe vera stopped working because I had become distressed. I know this sounds a bit of, but I am just recounting what happened to me (with zero embellishments). A person to whom I’d been quite attached passed out of my life quite abruptly and immediately, I began to smell appalling. Stress makes you sweat more so that must have been a factor, but this wasn’t regular stress. I took to applying fresh aloe vera gel thrice a day but still, I smelt like a dead snake.  The smell of distress is like a moan from the very soul of your armpits.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I didn’t care. I mean, who worries about vubs when their hearts is bleeding?  After all, God didn’t create the nose with special instructions to smell only perfume.

I only snapped out of my funk after what I call the Kisaasi bus incident.  It was the end of a long day and as I walked to the place at Kamwokya stage where Kisaasi taxis congregate,  I made a short prayer that I would find a window seat. It had been a rough day, worse than usual and I smelt both sweaty and distressed.

Alas, there weren’t any empty window seats and so I had to settle for a middle one in the back row. To my right was a lovely looking girl and to my left was a nice enough guy. He made space for me, even smiled. Nobody smiles at a stinky person right? Wrong.

My neighbor on the right was having a fit. She began by pushing the window as wide open as it could go. She then held her tiny nose between her delicate fingers and winced. I looked at the guy on the left and he was having no reaction! I almost asked her if I smelt weird, but I knew the answer to that, so I kept mum.

Eventually, I became irritated with what I saw as a gross overreaction on her part. She was practically holding her breath. Do you know how long it takes to get to Kisaasi from Kamwokya? To have somebody risk death, just so that they don’t have to breath your stink in, that hurts. I felt she was being overtly mean.

Eventually, she moved out of the bus. There’s nothing like a beautiful girl reacting with horror to your presence to help you pick yourself up.

I didn’t start using anything different. Rather, I began to apply aloe vera even in the night before sleeping. Since the smell had been brought on my my distress, I decided to proactively deal with my feelings of loss, denial, anger and fear that all break ups come with. Sadness is no excuse to smell like a he-goat.

My armpits have healed over completely. They no longer look fried by chemicals and are absolutely flawless. An added bonus is that even when I forget to apply aloe, I smell like nothing. 

Recently, I went to Forever living and bought an aloe deodorant. I am OK with most of its ingredients although tricoslan has many weird reviews on the internet. Many days, I’m happy to go without. Occasionally, I go back to applying fresh gel, but  I’d really rather eat the aloe that surrender it to my pits.

So what do you think of my journey? Would you abandon mainstream deos for more natural alternatives?

Dare To Smell II: The Search

Last week, I wrote about my decision to stop wearing mainstream deodorants. For approximately 7 weeks, I took on the challenge of finding cheap, accessible and all-natural substances that would kill underarm odor as effectively as Yardley or Axe. It wasn’t easy I tell you!

My first experiment was with lemon. All I had to do was take a thin slice, rub it under my arms and wait for it to dry before dressing up. Lemon worked well enough, but after years of relying on antiperspirants, my sweating alarmed me. It was like all the drops of sweat that had been held back had decided to finally follow their dreams of exploring the world.

Just as I was getting used this, my skin reacted violently. Lemon is highly acidic and my dramatic epidermis decided it had had enough. The rashes I got were so nauseating to look at and so painful to have that I almost abandoned my project.

Ginger: My ginger phase was short and weird. This is what would happen. Because I always have a lemon or three in office, I would arrive some mornings without applying any. Unfortunately, we have a thief in the building. I would sometimes find that he or she had struck, leaving nothing but empty space where my healthy lemon had once sat.  Out of desperation, I would borrow some of  the boss’ ginger.  Its strong smell would permeate my pores and mute most of the odor. However, I didn’t fall in love with it and soon abandoned it for baking soda.

Great for tea, great for your armpit.

Great for tea, great for your armpits.

Baking soda: When my armpits healed from the lemon assault, I bought a box of baking powder (also known as soda bicarbonate) and proceeded to use it as deodorant. Its effectiveness blew me away! I am sure that the non-bathing types among us will be happy to know that it can work for two days straight! As far as application, all you  have to do is dust a little under your arms. In fact, you can mix it with coconut oil and apply the nice smelling paste. I highly recommend it for all you lucky people with normal skin. Mine rebelled after three days.

I love that bowl. You can find baking soda in almost every shop in Ug.

I love that bowl. You can find baking soda in almost every shop in Ug.

My skin reacted so nastily that a deep depression came upon me. Surely normal deodorant was better than this shit that had turned my armpits into an abomination. It was with a heavy heart that I continued my research.

Bombo: I failed to find bombo. This still breaks my heart. I hear that when you scrub your body using the leaves, it ceases to produce offensive odors almost permanently. I am still hoping that somebody will point me in its direction so that I can plant it in my yard. I would rather scrub  with bombo every single day of my life than use paraben/aluminum rich deodorants on my hypersensitive skin.

Bombo ooye

Bombo ooye

A friend called Yvonne suggested matooke ash. She told me to burn the peels, add water to the ash and apply the paste to my armpits at night before bed. Apparently, when you wash it off in the morning, you will smell heavenly. I have been promising myself to try this for almost a month now. Aate there is matooke at home. I must burn some peels tonight!

Yep. Burn some peels.

Yep. Burn some peels.

On this quest, I suffered disappointment, mockery, confusion and not a little pain. Thankfully, all nasty things come to an end. I met a plant that healed my skin, faded the scars and killed odor all at once! In next week’s article, I will tell you all about it.

Hopefully, you will be persuaded to try natural deodorants out.

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.

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.