Walking a tightrope…

One writer said Being in a foreign country means walking a tightrope high above the ground without the net afforded a person by the country where he has his family, colleagues, and friends, and where he can easily say what he has to say in a language he has known from childhood.” There is no better way to express it than this!

That passage pretty much summarises my month or so in this place and what it means it leave your country and seek to do kyeyo. Well this is not like any other country (like leaving Rwanda to come work in Uganda), this country has a set of rules that are not radical per se but yes it operates under the Sharia Law. When I was offered this opportunity to leave my beloved Uganda, I knew what it was going to be a tightrope I would be walking. Iguana, Legends, and even installing Whatsapp; those would be distant memories. The adherence to the law is one of those things that you are briefed about and yeah it is followed, yes was followed by two Skype calls for emphasis but of course rules are there to be broken. Nye!

I have been asked “how is Somalia?” and my response has been that I have not read in the papers what the situation is in Mogadishu. Somaliland is different from Somalia. Let us delve into a little history; in 1991, after the collapse of the government in Somalia, Somaliland broke off to form what is called the “Republic of Somaliland” and has remained peaceful, but this remains unrecognized by any country or the UN because of border disputes. Despite being unrecognized officially, because of its strategic importance in relation to the Gulf of Eden and being one of the largest livestock trade corridors and rumors of oil (of course), many development organizations (DFID, UN, EU, DANIDA name it) have a presence here. And Somalilanders don’t like being called Somalis. Yes that is the pride they have or shall I call it a condescending attitude in relation to Somalia that has failed to stabilize!

First the Muslims in Uganda are jokers (ok not all of them but the Muslims here make it seem so), here prayer is prayer, “Azan” blares every few hours from the various mosques scattered in Hargeisa. Allah Akbar, Allah Akbar…(Someone asked me who is Azan?; Azan is the call for prayer in Arabic). Meetings are adjourned or hashed because it is time for prayer and yes of course, I now partially understand why it is easy to radicalize religion and make it a rallying point for creating fanatics. Mindful to say, Islam is a very peaceful religion, I have always respected. Because everyone has three names, I am now called Ahmed :-)

When I signed up for this new role, I intimated to a couple of close friends that I would be going away to work in a place that has a strict Muslim doctrine, the first question was will you manage? I will not explore this further… The social life here is pretty much boring and routine(work-apartment-work-repeat) compared to the city that never sleeps but but don’t be fooled, human beings are creatures of habit and have learnt to adapt, folks always find a way of throwing parties in the big villas that house some of the foreign embassies complete with all amenities. Don’t ask me what the amenities are! Ksssh don’t let this out. The catch is to land that invite. For one to get that invite, one does not miss coordination meetings that are out of office, that is usually the gate pass and carry your business cards with the local number! Tokamanya!

I used to despise reading online newspapers because the content is usually nothing to write home about, but now the first thing I do in the morning is go over the newspapers to see what is happening. Is that being homesick or rather looking for a connection back home? Though, I don’t miss the endless hours spent in traffic in Kampala, I take 5 minutes to walk to work. That has been the serene part of being here and yes November-February the temperatures fall to 5 degrees, shall I call it winter?

The ironies of life though… females who live in cold countries are usually scantily dressed and those live in hot semi-arid countries are the ones who dress up and are covered up to 98% (I don’t know when I last saw a thigh…*facepalm*). But behind the hijabs worn by the women here, one sees a repressed sexuality that wants to burst its banks, well don’t ask how I know that. I would not say the people here are as benevolent as the folks back home, but they try and learning the Somali dialect is a very tall order maybe one could consider getting a “dictionary” but then again Sharia could earn one a deportation…

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Carpe Diem…!

He who becomes the slave of habit,
who follows the same routes every day,
who never changes pace,
who does not risk and change the color of his clothes,
who does not speak and does not experience,
dies slowly.

He or she who shuns passion,
who prefers black on white,
dotting ones “it’s” rather than a bundle of emotions, the kind that make your eyes glimmer,
that turn a yawn into a smile,
that make the heart pound in the face of mistakes and feelings,
dies slowly.

He or she who does not turn things topsy-turvy,
who is unhappy at work,
who does not risk certainty for uncertainty,
to thus follow a dream,
those who do not forego sound advice at least once in their lives,
die slowly.

He who does not travel, who does not read,
who does not listen to music,
who does not find grace in himself,
she who does not find grace in herself,
dies slowly.

He who slowly destroys his own self-esteem,
who does not allow himself to be helped,
who spends days on end complaining about his own bad luck, about the rain that never stops,
dies slowly.

He or she who abandon a project before starting it, who fail to ask questions on subjects he doesn’t know, he or she who don’t reply when they are asked something they do know,
die slowly.

Let’s try and avoid death in small doses,
reminding oneself that being alive requires an effort far greater than the simple fact of breathing.

Only a burning patience will lead
to the attainment of a splendid happiness.
Martha Medeiros

PS: Martha Medeiros is a Brazilian writer and journalist. She works as columnist of the Zero Hora and O Globo newspapers. Wikipedia

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[SHARING] Milan Kundera on the longing for order…

I read this passage today morning as I was heading out… and am just sharing. Milan has always fascinated me with his deep philosophy and I guess this passage speaks to human beings, who by our nature fear change…

The worst thing is not that the world is unfree, but that people have unlearned their liberty.

The more indifferent people are to politics, to the interests of others, the more obsessed they become with their own faces. The individualism of our time.

Not being able to fall asleep and not allowing oneself to move: the marital bed.

If high culture is coming to an end, it is also the end of you and your paradoxical ideas, because paradox as such belongs to high culture and not to childish prattle. You remind me of the young men who supported the Nazis or communists not out of cowardice or out of opportunism but out of an excess of intelligence. For nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought… You are the brilliant ally of your own gravediggers.

In the world of highways, a beautiful landscape means: an island of beauty connected by a long line with other islands of beauty.

How to live in a world with which you disagree? How to live with people when you neither share their suffering nor their joys? When you know that you don’t belong among them?… our century refuses to acknowledge anyone’s right to disagree with the world…All that remains of such a place is the memory, the ideal of a cloister, the dream of a cloister…

Humor can only exist when people are still capable of recognizing some border between the important and the unimportant. And nowadays this border has become unrecognizable.

The majority of people lead their existence within a small idyllic circle bounded by their family, their home, and their work… They live in a secure realm somewhere between good and evil. They are sincerely horrified by the sight of a killer. And yet all you have to do is remove them from this peaceful circle and they, too, turn into murderers, without quite knowing how it happened.

The longing for order is at the same time a longing for death, because life is an incessant disruption of order. Or to put it the other way around: the desire for order is a virtuous pretext, an excuse for virulent misanthropy.

A long time a go a certain Cynic philosopher proudly paraded around Athens in a moth-eaten coat, hoping that everyone would admire his contempt for convention. When Socrates met him, he said: Through the hole in your coat I see your vanity. Your dirt, too, dear sir, is self-indulgent and your self-indulgence is dirty.

You are always living below the level of true existence, you bitter weed, you anthropomorphized vat of vinegar! You’re full of acid, which bubbles inside you like an alchemist’s brew. Your highest wish is to be able to see all around you the same ugliness as you carry inside yourself. That’s the only way you can feel for a few moments some kind of peace between yourself and the world. That’s because the world, which is beautiful, seems horrible to you, torments you and excludes you.

If the novel is successful, it must necessarily be wiser than its author. This is why many excellent French intellectuals write mediocre novels. They are always more intelligent than their books.

By a certain age, coincidences lose their magic, no longer surprise, become run-of-the-mill.

Any new possibility that existence acquires, even the least likely, transforms everything about existence.”

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[SHARING] Because perfection does not exist…

Bob Marley’s words… 

You may not be her first, her last, or her only. She loved before she may love again. But if she loves you now, what else matters? She’s not perfect—you aren’t either, and the two of you may never be perfect together but if she can make you laugh, cause you to think twice, and admit to being human and making mistakes, hold onto her and give her the most you can. She may not be thinking about you every second of the day, but she will give you a part of her that she knows you can break—her heart. So don’t hurt her, don’t change her, don’t analyze and don’t expect more than she can give. Smile when she makes you happy, let her know when she makes you mad, and miss her when she’s not there.

He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.

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[SHARING] Who are we…? By Milan Kundera

Milan Kundera offers a perspective of who we are… He groups us in four categories, of course everyone runs for the fourth category. A friend shared this passage back in 2009 so one of those days sifting through those old emails, those emails that leave a sweet taste… those ones yes! 

Anyways let us see who we are…

“We all need someone to look at us. We can be divided into four categories according to the kind of look we wish to live under…

  1. The first category longs for the look of an infinite number of anonymous eyes, in other words, for the look of the public.
  2. The second category is made up of people who have a vital need to be looked at by many known eyes. They are the tireless hosts of cocktail parties and dinners. They are happier than the people in the first category, who, when they lose their public, have the feeling that the lights have gone out in the room of their lives. This happens to nearly all of them sooner or later. people in the second category, on the other hand, can always come up with the eyes they need.
  3. Then there is the third category, the category of people who need to be constantly before the eyes of the person they love. Their situation is as dangerous as the situation of people in the first category. One day the eyes of their beloved will close, and the room will go dark.
  4. Finally there is the fourth category, the rarest, the category of people who live in the imaginary eyes of those who are not present; they are the dreamers.” 

Social media makes you become number one, then number two- those people who never say no to anything-the people pleasers, then number three-i have no comment and number four is the ideal one everyone will run for! 

PS: Milan Kundera is the Czech Republic’s most recognized living writer. Of Czech origin, he has lived in exile in France since 1975, having become a naturalised citizen in 1981. His Books are numerous and his writing style is one that would leave you reflective about life’s choices.

 

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The fable of the boy & the pencil… Being at peace with the world!

One of those stories that is simply told with lots of lessons… And I am just sharing… 

“A boy was watching his grandmother write a letter. At one point he asked:

‘Are you writing a story about what we’ve done? Is it a story about me?’
His grandmother stopped writing her letter and said to her grandson:
I am writing about you, actually, but more important than the words is the pencil I’m using. I hope you will be like this pencil when you grow up.’

Intrigued, the boy looked at the pencil. It didn’t seem very special.
‘But it’s just like any other pencil I’ve ever seen!’

‘That depends on how you look at things. It has five qualities which, if you manage to hang on them, will make you a person who is always at peace with the world.’

First quality: you are capable of great things, but you must never forget that there is a hand guiding your steps. We call that hand God, and He always guides us according to His will.’
‘Second quality: now and then, I have to stop writing and use a sharpener. That makes the pencil suffer a little, but afterwards, he’s much sharper. So you, too, must learn to bear certain pains and sorrows, because they will make you a better person.
‘Third quality: the pencil always allows us to use an eraser to rub out any mistakes. This means that correcting something we did is not necessarily a bad thing; it helps to keep us on the road to justice.’
‘Fourth quality: what really matters in a pencil is not its wooden exterior, but the graphite inside. So always pay attention to what is happening inside you.’
‘Finally, the pencil’s fifth quality: it always leaves a mark. in just the same way, you should know that everything you do in life will leave a mark, so try to be conscious of that in your every action”

― Taken from Paulo Coelho’s, Like the Flowing River

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Hymn to Isis ( 3rd or 4th century AD )

Paulo Coelho uses this very old poem as his forward in Eleven Minutes;  and it happens to be one of my favorite poems. Our souls consist of many roles and relations… Our joys, our pains, our desires, our dreams…  My friend will love this… ta…dah…

For I am the first and the last

I am the venerated and the despised

I am the prostitute and the saint

I am the wife and the virgin

I am the mother and the daughter

I am the arms of my mother

I am barren and my children are many

I am the married woman and the spinster

I am the woman who gives birth and she who never procreated

I am the consolation for the pain of birth

I am the wife and the husband

And it was my man who created me

I am the mother of my father

I am the sister of my husband

And he is my rejected son

Always respect me

For I am the shameful and the magnificent one

Discovered in Nag Hammadi, 1947

NOTE:

Isis (Ancient GreekἾσις, original Egyptian pronunciation more likely “Aset” or “Iset”) is a goddess in Ancient Egyptian religious beliefs, whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. She was worshipped as the ideal mother and wife as well as the patroness of nature and magic. She was the friend of slavessinnersartisans and the downtrodden, but she also listened to the prayers of the wealthy, maidens, aristocrats and rulers (Source: Wikipedia)

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The Ugandan Twitter.

dbpensioner:

Oh well… Oh well…

Originally posted on Lobstar's Tales:

*Opens and Sips On a Nile Special..*Does a French Inhale .Actually The Nile Special Opened and Sipped On here is just Two Words 11 Letters Nothing More..Looking at UOT Time Lines an Investor Would be quick To Invest his Money Nile Breweries. The Question here is Why is it always Nile Special? Is it the Best On the Market? or Can we settle For the Fact that it is just Influence from what One has Seen from One of the people He/She Follows.*Opens a Calsberg because These are Not for everyOne In fact For No one,One the Other side Am Stoned AF but I have to continue…Let than sink in knowing On a Ugandan Time line there is a lot of Virtual Drinking and Smoking.

Talk about Standards..these in UOT circles are Set So High. One wonders if Some Tweeps Use Premium Data Bundles while Others are using Free Data…

View original 844 more words

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Being numbed…

In Paulo Coelho’s Eleven Minutes, Maria experiences her first orgasm through masturbation and her vivid feeling was sensationally rightly put through these words…

“Orgasm! It was like floating up to heaven and then parachuting slowly down to earth again.”

The way Maria describes the act of floating up to heaven and slowly returning to earth, that imagination has played in my head a million times and with a lot of sensationalism… my throat has dried at times…

Milan Kundera’s 1984 novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being has a particular extract that brings into context what Maria experienced….You need to read that slowly…

“The heaviest of burdens crushes us, we sink beneath it, it pins us to the ground. But in love poetry of every age, the woman longs to be weighed down by the man’s body.The heaviest of burdens is therefore simultaneously an image of life’s most intense fulfillment. The heavier the burden, the closer our lives come to the earth, the more real and truthful they become. Conversely, the absolute absence of burden causes man to be lighter than air, to soar into heights, take leave of the earth and his earthly being, and become only half real, his movements as free as they are insignificant. What then shall we choose? Weight or lightness?”

What Maria experiences and what Kundera vividly puts through words, let us do this slowly… the woman longs to be weighed down by a man’s body (STOP)… intense fulfillment (STOP)… lightness… and the way Kundera sums the passage by asking Weight or Light… what shall we choose?

We all have experienced (if you have not, sorry, keep looking) that sex or ravishing that was too good that every time you replay it in yr head; you find yourself smiling sheepishly even in public… or asking some one for a pardon in a Friday afternoon meeting where the point that was being made was crystal clear… Anyway anyway….

There are things that can not be explained, they just have to be experienced… yes experienced but this experience does not come from the unending meaningless sexual flings that we engage in…  the parachuting, being weighed down, intense fulfillment or soaring in that orgasm… there has to be a connection that is more than the physicality… more than the physicality hmmm…

Why am I talking about Sex? Anyway this was not supposed to lead to anything serious…

Pyaaaaaaaat… Pyaaaaaaat… Three dots mean incomplete thoughts…

To Be Continued…

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The best part of life is the thinnest slice…

Brutus and Cassius are discussing the final phase of their civil war with the forces of Octavian and Marcus Antonius. Cassius has been urging that they group their forces at Sardis and take advantage of the secure location to catch their breath.  Then Brutus says…

There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I like to start my posts with excerpts from history!  History has a way of teaching us many things, we must learn… we must take on opportunities that come to us or seek them and use them meaningfully, we must seek to use what is available to us to enhance our well being… and we must learn not to be selfish… yes blah blah blah!!! Why did I quote that particular discussion between Brutus and Cassius, first it is one of my favorite quotes from Shakespeare and two it can be applied to many contexts in your life as you deem fit.

Back from history class, anyway today morning I had an email exchange with a very close friend, so naturally along the way we discussed age (call it affairs)… yes age, the inevitable thing called age;  so we reflected upon things that have gone good,  weary, crushes, hearts that have been broken( oh those ouch!), lost dreams, lost ideals, friends you last called or sent that famous Christmas or happy new year message( I only reply those who have been in touch all year through), kissing your partner (I will use partner to accommodate our numerous orientations) good morning, calling your parent/guardian to wish them a good week, helping a child cross the road… etc The simple things in life yet as we grow old tend to neglect because we are busy chasing the buck, seeking self gratification and forget to smell the proverbial rose.

Along the way (the email exchange) we came  to the discussion of mid life crisis; are 30-somethings being hit by an earlier mid-life crisis than it was the case some 10, 20 years ago! I don’t know, maybe yes, maybe not.  Are 30-somethings asking themselves the things they have not done or the opportunities that they have not seized thus filling themselves with regret, bitterness, arrogant pride and heartbreak. Yes we all have seen some really bitter 30-somethings rumbling about this, that, yada, this economy that,I-this, I-that, career nye nye nye! But why that bitterness and self persona? Why? As we go through these transitions we question ourselves, our achievements, reality sets in and you wish you had done some things better. It’s only natural but that bitterness and self absorption will kill your soul… 

Anyway what spurred me into writing this post was the final quote she shared…

“There was a time when people had the decency to wait until they were approaching 50 to have a mid-life crisis. Now it seems 30-somethings find themselves succumbing to existential navel-gazing.”

Don’t you succumb to that existential navel-gazing… Please don’t be self absorbed to the point of being narcissistic! 

It is such a high tide we are floating on… Such a high tide!

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