Friday, July 27, 2007

Tremors and security!

Last night as i sat watching the end of the local news the sofa i was sitting on began swaying. I thought i must be tired and should go to bed and then the weirdest thing happened. The whole house began swaying and the news presenters looked horrified - as they were getting what i was getting. My curtains were all moving side to side - not by much you understand - but enough that it was all pretty scary - and what did i do - after all those "What to do in an earthquake" articles we keep getting through the email every day - er . . . nothing that's what. I realised that i just sat completely still waiting to see what would happen next! So much for rolling off the sofa into the foetal position - as comes highly recommended from some fellow working at the UN in Nairobi!!

It was all jolly scary though. I was shaking for a while afterwards - wondering if it was more tremors or just me! When i did finally go to bed - every creak or groan i heard - whether it was the dogs shuffling about in their baskets or the normal sounds that go with having a mabati (iron sheet) roof on my house - i kept thinking "My God, this is it - the house is coming down!!" and what did i do with those thoughts ... er ... same thing ... nothing - just held my breath and waited to see what happened next!

I really think I'd better brush up on my earth tremor articles i feel!!

It's quite funny really - made me think - you never really know what you'll do in a situation like that until it actually happens to you. - Well it seems i now know what I'd do - Hold my breath and sit perfectly still! - Very useful!

When we were kids i remember so many conversations we used to have - what would you do if ... We generally spoke of what we'd do if someone broke into the house - a fairly common occurrence here sadly - generally with not too horrific consequences but sometimes awful things happened to people - and I'd like to say here - "Touch Wood" - nothing too horrific ever happened to me or my family - but it brings me back to - You'll never know until it actually happens - no matter what intentions you think you'll have.

In the last house i lived in - i went through a spate of break-ins in the last few months i was there - which made me move in a bit of a hurry. It started off with a gang coming in and tying up the night watchman and trying to get the wheels off my car. I never heard a thing and the dogs didn't make a sound - although the garage wasn't that far from my bedroom window. Luckily a car drove by and they panicked and all they got away with in the end of mine was my bicycle that was out in the garage - and they were welcome to that - as it always been a pretty crap bike - won by my father in one of many raffles he won prizes in.

Sadly though they took the watchman's mobile and what little money he had in his pockets - and after that they came back - once a week on average - and basically took almost everything the staff owned. They kept coming back and breaking down their doors and took even their bedsheets - it was awful. Why take from people who have so little in the first place - but sadly that is how it is here - they generally rob from the much less fortunate - as we all live in houses with great big bars on the windows - and now where i am - an electric fence all the way round the entire 10 acre compound.

One night they did cut the bars in my father's house which was at the other end of the plot to mine and he woke up and starting shouting and screaming which woke me and i called the 'Ultimate' people who came with armed police and chased them all away. (The 'Ultimate' guys are a bunch of guards in riot gear who travel round in a van and we all have 'panic buttons' in our houses in most rooms and if you press one of them the control room registers it and sends out the closest van to you). It was all pretty scary though with them throwing rocks through the window at my father - and him waving his baseball bat. - thank god, he didn't have a heart attack - all that excitement - think i might of!

Anyway i moved not long after that and here i sit in relative safety - i hope! My house is in the middle of the compound and i have the staff compound directly behind me - the landlord's house to one side and another tenants house to the other side of me. i always think - or hope more like - that if anyone ever got into this compound - god forbid - i would be the last house they came to - especially as i have the biggest dogs in the place so hopefully they'll have that little bit of info on board before they get in and leave us alone! Fingers crossed!

Anyway enough of all that negative thinking. I think if you live in Africa long enough - the best way to deal with these things is to be aware of them but not to worry about them too much!

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