Sunday, September 30, 2007

Turns out I'm a 'fruitcake'!

Thought I'd throw in a curve ball to this blog of mine. Anyone who reads it may look upon the rest of my ramblings with a slightly skewed view after this, but i feel i need to write this down to see if i can make sense of it all, so here goes ......................

Well, it turns out I'm officially a 'fruitcake'.

I haven't decided if its an insult or a relief to be labelled but it's happened.

I'm not one for doctor's myself, avoiding them at all costs. All aches and pains are relieved with a self-medicated bucket of brufen, colds and flu knocked on the head with a few bottles of Flu-Gone or other such medication, Buscopan is a marvel with anything in the stomach department and anything else is generally got through with a 'grin and bear it' attitude which usually gets me through.

However, after almost a month of feeling a little like death warmed up, i finally succumbed and hit The Surgery and it turns out I'm stressed! Well, no s...t Sherlock ....... tell me one full time working single mother on the planet who isn't!

What i didn't realise is the nonsense it can cause your system. I've read a million and one articles on stress and what to do about it but I'm in the 'couldn't possibly happen to me' brigade - or perhaps it should be 'bury your head in the sand' brigade, and never realised I'd fall down the stress drain. Turns out i have, and hard.

Next thing you know, I've been referred to the psych to 'see if they can help'.

Turns out the psych is an old school friend and that only remembering about 2 collective months of my entire life is not 'normal'.

I must say, i do find it depressing that I must of had some great experiences in my time seeing as I've been half way round the world and back, and even seeing photos of myself at various stages in life brings back no memories whatsoever. In fact the few memories that i do possess were filled in by other people who told me what i did but they don't really feel like my own.

I think perhaps i feel betrayed. Betrayed by my own mind for allowing itself to be shut down.

It turns out that my strange haphazard childhood wasn't exactly normal and because of this its blocked out the past and now I'm targeted by some psychopathic narcissist that has got inside my head and has (quite successfully i might add) tried to destroy my inner soul.

I'm not entirely sure how all these revelations make me feel really, but i suppose if i had to label it I'd say i was disappointed in myself for not seeing all this so clearly a lot earlier in my life (seeing as i officially hit middle age last week!)- I'm now in a panic that I've wasted the best years of my life in a strange oblivion and realise that it's probably too late to rectify much now and basically i suppose to sum it up; "I've really F.....d this one up!"

Good news is the psych seems to think we can work through the blur and make this world a much rosier place, but I'm not sure that it's not too late for me and perhaps i should just keep going in the fog until i fall off the road.

Definitely not sure - I'll have to give it some thought. Let's see how long i can keep my head above the water, although by the sounds of it, I'm officially sinking!

..... "Throw me a lifebelt!" ............

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The South African’s THINK they’re invading! ....BUT they are so NOT!

Today I had a strange stab of tribalism, or perhaps not tribalism as such as Kenyanism!
I got a call from a company known as East African something or other who needed me to do some handing out of promotional stuff and I asked that if I did them that favour then could I expect some ad in the new magazine or suchlike.
The Kenyan girl I was speaking with said that would be a great idea, and she’ll get the lady who deals with advertising to give me a call.
Well, later on some South African lady calls me and starts off by telling me I’ve been in touch with some fellow I’ve never heard of and that she hears i want to buy ad space off her!
I did try and explain that it wasn’t quite like that, and that I had been talking to a very nice ‘Kenyan chick’ and why.
So this snooty South African woman tells me that they make no such deals and I should pay top whack for my advertising space.
Well my Kikuyu side kicked in with a vengeance: ( - Just call me Njambi!)
“Hey lady – I think you missed the point here entirely – I’m doing you a favour!!’ – I mean sorry, but why would I do something for nothing – this is no NGO we’re talking here and who the hell does some smart arse South African think she is to have the audacity to talk to anyone like that anyway. Please note, the South Africans ‘MAY’ think they are smarter than us Kenyans – but they are SO NOT!!
It made me think back to an article in the press a couple of weeks ago saying how so many South African companies fail dismally in Kenya. It’s because these people talk to us like we’re completely stupid and try and bulldoze us.
People – you need to wake up – Kenyans are proud people and have no wish to be spoken to like idiots by anyone.
“We know our own minds thank you and have done perfectly well without you so far. So, thanks but no thanks for the help. Go back where you came from until you learn that we are all perfectly civilized and did not just swing in from the bush thank you, and we can stick up for ourselves quite nicely!!”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Some Good Advice !

Learn to take risks.

You may fail, but it's better than being completely successful at absolutely nothing!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Unemployment and 'disturbing' refugees

I do love picking out articles in the press and putting my 5 cents worth in, and here's a classic:

"Welsh Refugee Council says it has found "disturbing" levels of unemployment among refugees, despite the fact they are highly qualified.
- Are they serious?? Do they not get it??
These are refugees - people who are only living in your country for the simple reason that they can no longer survive in their own.

They are not people who are necessarily in your country by choice, but now that they are in and nicely settled, you pay them good money to do ... er ... absolutely nothing! Some of them, as highly qualified as they are, have probably not ever been given such a good salary in their lives and there in Britain they are receiving it for not working.

So what I'd like to know is, where is the incentive to find a job? Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are many refugees who have grabbed the opportunities with both hands and have achieved great things but I know if i was in their shoes, degree and all, i would most definitely NOT be working but would be taking the money and taking advantage of all the time on my hands and enjoying every day as it comes.

Throughout Africa all of us have to work to live. It is not a choice and if we don't work, or someone in our family does not provide for us, we starve - simple as that. Yes, it may be true that not all work involves trotting off to the office every day but there are fields to dig, crops to take care of, livestock to feed and fetching water is a daily essential.

These are probably not ideas of work that'll get your average Brit out of bed in a morning but here (as in a lot of countries in the world), there is no government standing by, parting with cash and sympathy and if you don't get off your arse in the morning and go to work, whether in a field or an office, then you will not survive.

Refugees in remote districts of Kenya have been turned into dependants of this handout system of the first world by NGO's as in hard times of war, droughts, famine and floods they bring them into camps and feed them - and although we certainly do not knock them for that - what we do knock them for is getting these people to give up their lives in order to be fed in these camps. In the majority of the areas livestock are their only form of wealth and yet these camps do not feed the livestock - only the people. This means grazing around the camps becomes non-existent and in order for the people to survive the harsh conditions they have to give up their livestock (and therefore their only form of wealth), and have now become destitute, knowing refugee camps as the only way to survive.

You hear of people living in these camps who are second generation refugees. People who have never been given an opportunity to live outside of the camps and, although most are given some form of education, they have never been taught to fend for themselves.

Then the lucky few get whisked off to the US, UK and other European countries and are put into places of relative luxury - compared to what they have ever known - and then on top of it they get paid money to be there so now how 'disturbing' is that. It's paradise to compared to what they have come from so what on earth would possess them to want to go to work??

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The 'Makaren'!

Here in Kenya there is an incredible number of tribes. I read somewhere it numbers 52 with the Kikuyu's (or Kyuks as more commonly known round these parts) are 21% of the population with the Luo's (or Jaluas) coming in at 14%. The other 65% is shared amongst the other 50 tribes in various proportions with some having much greater percentages than others.

We all profess not to be tribal in any way and yet that's what its all about. I'd say though it is definitely quite a jovial thing - the tribal class - especially these days amongst the educated - Just this morning i got a classic from one of my colleagues.

"Hey, i had to eat chicken and chips for breakfast this morning as a neighbour had brought it round for me last night and i had already eaten. But if i leave it in the fridge - well, i know my houseboy - he's a luyha - and he'll certainly deal with it and it won't be there in the evening for sure!!'
Had a great joke through about a jaluo (Luo) and his shiny designer 'sous' (or shoes to anyone else), and then of course you have the Kaos (or the Kamba's) and their love of anything colourful.

For me, the mzungu chick, Kenyan ID in hand, yet of no fixed 'shags', tribe is a tricky issue.
(By the way - 'shags' is the village where your family hail from).

However i was labelled the other day, and told my tribe must be the 'Makaren' - a bunch of Mzungus (pale faces) all at least 3rd generation Kenyans and all living in the district of Karen in the outskirts of Nairobi.

Am thinking of setting up a political party of such 'Makaren's'. It could be known as the 'lete chai tafadhali' party and all the old bats from the Mau mau era could jump up and down and smack those round the head who don't vote for them, with their walking sticks (as they generally do anyhow when things don't quite go their way!!)

Seriously though, I'm thinking of defecting already - rather would join the hoo ndi emm party (Orange Democratic Movement ODM). Although i'm not sure they'll get any more done than little old ladies making lots of noise and waving their walking sticks.
Well, you know Raila is really a 'Makaren' anyhow being neighbours in the estate and all, the only difference between us, is that his 'shags' are a little further north!!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Words they don't tell you in Swahili class!

I have quite a few expat friends who have decided to take Swahili lessons - basically it seems - in order to understand their house staff and try and get them to do things remotely resembling what they've asked for - BUT you have to realise that even though Swahili maybe the first language in Kenya, along with English -which is spoken in most businesses and throughout Nairobi - some of our upcountry folk have not been to school and therefore Swahili is not actually in their vocabulary either - so you might as well try Japanese!!

However i do think it's a great effort on their part to partake in these Swahili lessons - although they tell me that they generally end up in conversations with their teacher about football or his wife - who doesn't seem overly fond of! (Not sure if these kind of conversations are in Swahili or English, but in the detail they relate to me about the Swahili teacher, i would say its in English mainly - or he's a damn good teacher!)

The usual suspects that are taught to every tourist are generally things like; Jambo - hello, Habariyako - how are you? Kwaheri - goodbye, Asante Sana - thank you very much, Kifaru - rhino, Simba - Lion, Twiga - Giraffe, Kiboko - Hippo, etc, etc..

I grew up here, so Swahili was part of our syllabus along with English and we even got to do a GCSE (or 'O'Level in my day!) in the subject, but here's a few lines we weren't taught that i thought may be useful to someone out there somewhere!

'Askari ya matiti'
LITERAL TRANSLATION: Soldier/Guard to look after your boobs.

'Kifuli ya chakula cha wazee'
LITERAL TRANSLATION: Padlock to the old man's food.

'Soksi ya rungu'
LITERAL TRANSLATION: Socks for your truncheon

I Hate "Yummy Mummys" TOO!

You've got to have a look at this article i found on the 'Alpha Mummy' blog -

It has caused such an uproar in the 'Yummy Mummy' brigade its hilarious. It seems that the non-working mothers of the Western world - the 'housewives' who look after their own children and cook and clean - and all the rest of the boring mundane crap you would so rather someone else did given half a chance - are outraged by being labelled as it seems they are superior beings apparently for the fact that they enjoy doing the cooking, cleaning and mundane crap - and hey - if that rocks your boat - who am i to knock you down!

But please, accept one thing - it does not make you superior - only slightly more boring than the rest of us women out there who also do the cooking, cleaning, looking after the kids and other mundane crap - but we also work, have some help in the mundane chores, and realise that joining the PTA is kind of death sentence in the bitchy 'ladies who lunch' world.

These superior beings also have the cheek to post comments telling the writer, Eleanor Mills, that she should not be writing at all and that surely the article was a wind up!

PLEASE, Please tell me it wasn't a wind-up because i sooooooooo agree with her!! - Also small note to ponder on is the little label on the side of her posting;-

Alpha Mummy is the new blog for mums who work, used to work, or want to go back to work one day (as if looking after children isn't work enough). - Ladies, do take note of the word 'WORK' !

Quite a lot of my best friends are 'Yummy Mummy's' but i can tell you they definitely would agree with Eleanor Mills themselves as it seems they do have minds of their own and luckily, have kept their sense of humour and haven't 'become vicious, bitchy judgemental old nags' (see comment by 'onetruelove' *) like most of the commenting public on this blog!!
(* - thought 'onetruelove's' comment was the only one with some truth - thank god there is a sane woman out there amongst all these stuck up cows who have nothing better to do than complain about being knackered all the time !)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"My Dream"

Today my son came home with a big piece of paper all folded up in his homework folder. Wondering what it was i opened it up and there were only 2 words at the top of the blank white page.

"My Dream"

When i questioned him what the paper was about, he told me it was something he didn't finish in school. When i asked why - he said he was because he didn't have a dream.

It made me really sad that comment, and as usual in parent world, I felt guilty that I had not given this boy any dreams.

BUT then i had a bit of a think.

Perhaps if you have no dreams, then you have no expectations and then perhaps life doesn't continuously disappoint you.

I have dreams - big dreams - but chances are i will be disappointed as I've been so many times before BUT then again dreams keep me moving forward - always thinking that things will definitely get better and over the next hill will be a smashing green pasture!!

But hold on - who's the pessimist who came out with the 'The grass is always greener on the other side' - yet it means it generally isn't and you shouldn't continually go chasing that greener pasture. It's really very confusing and really quite philosophical for a dumb arse such as me but interesting.

I thought of all those kids you see living their lives day to day in some of the kijiji's around my office. (Kijijis being slums or shanties that appear overnight all over Nairobi. Houses built with tin sheets and cardboard boxes and, on average, get mowed down once a month by a City Council bulldozer).

But you'd be amazed by the children who live in these places. Generally they have crusty snot dried on their faces, layers upon layers of dirty ragged clothes - even in the hot season - but their little faces are gorgeous. They smile, they laugh, they run about in puddles, they scream, they shout, they fall down and .. like so many millions of children the world over, they know no different.

They somehow seem so perfectly happy in their little existence, and without some smart arse expatriate or 'do-gooder' telling them they shouldn't be living like this, they seem to be quite content in their worlds. Yes it may be that they don't wear new clothes, new shoes or live in houses with perfectly sound brick walls - but perhaps that's it. You don't miss what you don't know about.

I'm not trying to be cynical but perhaps trying to understand a young child with no dream. It's not that i don't believe one day these kids, together with mine, will have dreams - big dreams - and i wish for all of them that they can all come true because it's a damn cruel world out there and sadly one day it'll dawn on each one of them in it's own way.

But when you're 7 years old and live in an oblivious existence of that world - it must be such a wonderful place.

My dream is that i could remember being 7 and remember being in that place!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Zimbabwe drops even further into despair

It seems Zimbabwe is dropping further and further into despair with the latest devaluation on the currency as those on the ground say all that will do is spur the black market inflation further and send the currency into a further spiral with expected black market rates of 600,000 Zim dollars to the US$ being the next port of call, as soon as the beginning of next week.

Even those farmers and other businesses struggling to hang in there - how on earth are they or their workers expected to now survive?

I read an article published just a few days ago where the Zim government says that encouraging tourists back into the country will help them solve their problems ... and what exactly will encourage these tourists to flood in? Perhaps they could do some marketing to the dieting community to go and visit a starving country and meanwhile starve themselves - as there certainly won't be any possible way of feeding those tourists surely. It's an absolutely ridiculus situation and one of which the world despairs of the beautiful once economically spectacular African country.

If Mugabe feels this is the way forward to a socialist society surely he is very much mistaken, and I understand that currently the only reason the country is surviving at all is because of the millions of Zimbabweans who no longer live in Zimbabwe but work outside of the country and send their money back.

Seriously, this is getting ridiculus - What on earth possesses the guy to destroy his own country? And such a beautiful one at that.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Chinese woman fired for answering back - do you think that tactic might work for children?

Just spotted an article on the Reuters site saying that a Chinese woman was fired for answering back to her superior.

Turns out that employees are fined twice for answering back to their superiors and on the third time are fired 'whether the superior is right or wrong'!
I was just thinking - we could try this out with our children! Mine spends his life answering back and thinking up great ways round why he should be watching tv when he's banned or why he shouldn't be doing his homework or why he's always right and i'm forever wrong!!

Wouldn't it be great if you could just say "Right, that's 3 times you've answered me back - you're out!" - and we hire ourselves a new child!

My son told me yesterday that i should have a look at a website he saw come up when he was looking at (- or some other mindless site he loves to play on) called He says it'll help me stop being so angry with him the whole time!

- Actually i did have a look at it but it seems its just full of Australian advertising, so not much help there! - If it was a web for depressed, fat, angry old people - i might of been in luck!

Must say though - I rather like my little blighter -

- scary huh! .. and as annoying as he can be - so probably won't be 'firing' him after all.

And I can't believe that in this day and age Chinese people are still treated so appalingly. Here in Deepest Darkest Africa I can tell you we're a hell of a lot more civilised than that!

Friday, September 7, 2007

"Flip Flops Can Damage Your Health!"

Now what do you think of that?
The heading's from an article i saw in the Daily Mail's health section - along with "Getting back to work can ease your backache" and "Keeping your teeth clean could help prevent a heart attack" !
Onto the flip flop lead - well i'm really quite concerned.
Here in Kenya I would say that the majority of my female friends wear flip flops on a daily basis and in fact would rarely be seen out in any other shoes during the day! - By "flip flops" - i do of course mean highly fashionable little numbers made out of leather and striking beaded arrangements like so ......

So you can imagine my concern on reading the headline!!
Turns out that basically if you are a complete pratt and cannot walk properly - chances are you'll end up flat on your face and it'll be blamed on your shoes. Of course twisted ankles are also a danger it has been noted and joint pain and shin splints are on the increase!! In fact ...

"Mike O'Neill, a Windsor-based foot surgeon who regularly treats patients with flip flop injuries, described them as 'dangerous'. "

.. and the best comment of all - "They are also extremely unstable so you are more likely to trip over and hurt yourself."

Now please explain to me - the backward idiot from the Africa region who (along with a few million others in the vicinity) wear flip flops every day - how on earth a perfectly flat shoe can be extremely unstable?!?!?!
Anyway at least i can carry on with my day knowing that with my clean teeth from this morning, chances are I can get away without suffering a heart attack today and I'll be at work ALL day so my backache should be kept at bay too!

Goodness that is a relief!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My New Look!

It must be my age catching up on me or perhaps just because I'm in a great mood and haven't felt quite so positive in ages but I've changed my look! Well not 'my' look exactly but the look of my blog! Went for a nice bright breezy blue - was actually keen for a touch of sunshine yellow but failed to find a template with sunshine involved and my computer skills lack the confidence to tackle the fearful HTML and sort out the colour for myself - but hey, maybe one day I'll get brave and sort that one out too!

But for now, .. "Welcome to my new breezy blue blog" - I love it!

Sanity at last!

Yippee school's are back in session today!
It's great - sanity is restored. Kids are back in school and are no longer running riot around the house and cooking their brains with nonsense television which we (or most definitely I) as the 'bad parent brigade' allow our kids to watch as it's so much easier than spending 'quality' time with them entertaining the little blighters!
Back to the school tarmac for home time and at last some decent conversation that doesn't include work. I'm in heaven! Tea with mates on the way home with talk of what (or what not in my case) everyone got up to in the long long holiday!
it's been a great day. I finally feel human again. I don't think i've talked to so many different people in weeks - apart from work colleagues - and all in one day. It's been marvellous and makes me realise i am not helping myself in the slightest in my reclusive life - only breaking out of the house to go to work or indulge in a spot of polo at the weekends.
Actually i think my polo is really the only thing that has kept me sane over the whole holidays. It's a fantastic sport - 7 solid minutes per chukka of thinking of nothing else but where the ball is and how to stay on top of your pony! All aches, pains and troubles disappear - if only for those 7 minutes of play in each chukka - but what a blissful 7 minutes that is and you get 4 goes in a row of it every weekend - I highly recommended it to everyone!
My son,it seems hasn't had quite such a marvellous day as me. He's already been in sick bay with the sister having to apply freeze spray onto his 'lower back' where he fell off the climbing frame. - I think acutually she meant his bum rather than lower back but was too polite to say that in the note he had to bring home to say he had to see the sister! Probably why I also got a letter from the school saying please sign here and absolve us of all responsibility when we have to take your little darling to the nearest hospital in case of emergency! Anyway not to worry - he tends to fall over and off things a lot - Hey he is a BOY after all!
i suppose i should be more of the fretting parent but i'm not and do believe that he is a bit of a drama queen at the best of times - especially in this case as it meant he got out of swimming underwater which i know he hates with a vegence but doesn't want to admit it!
All in all though a great day and I feel my sanity restoring by the minute.