Tuesday, June 17, 2008

..counting the days...

my lovely friend chantal (well, she is more like my aunt, my magical godmother and dearly loved) wrote and said "so where on earth are they all going to sleep?" she spent christmas with us all knows the house. and its limits.

plans are being made. thoroughly and rapidly. it's a bit like musical beds of sorts. by the 23rd of june there will be ELEVEN of us in ngorobob hill house and its environs...fuzz, myrtle's long lost friend from mombasa, is arriving imminently too, for three days. fuzz brings smelly fish from the coast, and is a "difficult old bastard". apparently. he will be having the tent on the hill. the site is being cleared and levelled by Stoner and his friend from kisongo. Stoner is a man of little words and surprising lightening action. he appeared for literally thirty minutes this afternoon, demanded some money, slashed about 5 meters of grass then stumbled back to kisongo. things will have to be snappier tommorrow. otherwise uncle fuzz will be sleeping in his car. fuzz asked on the phone, "will i be able to park my car next to the tent? for lighting?" "oh no no," i reassured him. i haven't told c yet that i have told fuzz that of course there will be lighting in the tent...as in electric lighting. god. we barely get it in the house (never mind in the entire bloody country)...and still need to find a bed and and and...oh yes sally said she would lend me her big brass bed...lay lady lay lay across my big brass bed..love that song.

new wooden bed made by abbas is here. i painted it this morning. this shall be in gabby's room for dear myrtle. collected the pillow cases from mr shahins this afternoon...while i watched my car with beady eyes (this is where mo's tyre was stolen as written in six million pillows) armed with more than pillows this time... a tyre wrench. no. i didn't. i had nothing but my handbag. silly.

collected new table cloth and napkins from janey the seamstress. the beautiful seamstress. walking into her little office in arusha back streets, a young girl shouted out : eh mzungu! here comes a mzungu! (no shit sherlock. it's like spot the pinky)

you know, it annoys me so much, particularly when i am having a stressy day. its so bloody rude! so i marched over and gave her a lecture: i feel the need to educate young people on manners.

mimi siyo mzungu!~ mimi ni mtu kama wewe, sindio? - shaking my finger at her and telling her how rude she was....(I am not a white ! i am a person like you, no?) she laughed lightly, threw her head back and said "ah, mzungu...." oh blast. bugger. whatever. and desperately wanted to get into a philosophical tirade with her but my swahili is so crap so i gave up, picked up my pillow cover with the new zip and left...listening to everyone laughing behind me, at the angry mzungu...

i zig zagged across town, pilot fishing all the daladalas (crazy taxi drivers who create their own flow through the traffic jams like fat hammerheads) - and bumped into my dear friend B who forced a cappucinno on me and begged me to resolve her love triangle for her. do i look like an agony aunt? ho hum. basically it's an eeny meeny miny mo situation, isn't it? or one potato two potato three potato four, five potato six potato seven potato more. Oh You Tee Spells Out You Must Go. simple. there. and asked her where the cheapest mattresses were to be found. in the bowels of Unga Limited, apparently. The Real Backstreets Of Arusha, in a shop called Tan Foam. piled high with mattresses and the most incredible collection of second hand things...like old tape decks, computers, baby cots, chairs, sewing machines, monkey cages, hamster wheels, spinning wheels, wooden legs, a car. i was served by a very austere and elderly indian gentleman. i could tell he had seen it all. he had seen us all. i asked the price and naturally tried to bargain. it's what you do, or so i thought...

"oh! WHAT!? TSH 105.000!!? shock horror shock horror (feigned you understand) but i was told that this was the cheapest place to buy mattresses!?"
without even looking at me, staring past me out onto the busy sunlit road outside, in a very bored voice, he said.
" no it's not. there are plenty of cheaper places in town. why don't you go and buy your mattress there?"

i was shamed "oh alright then. sheesh..." and immediately started counting out all my pink backs while someone loaded my mattress into my car. there. done deal. and i have a horrible feeling its going to be just a little too big for the new bed..bloody hell. we'll force it to fit.

in the meantime c was calling me on the phone. don't forget to buy daniel a white school shirt for his fam trip into secondary school tommorrow and oh my god i have to dash into jandu plumbers as toilet has sprung leak and oh oh oh racing to collect kids from school. at least he knew what to do about plumbing disaster. shut off all water. buy correct plumbing part. once, when c was On Safari (if c is not with me, that is where he is - On Safari. so don't ask, ok? always at parties, long long ago in the olden days, when i used to go to parties, people would say Oh Where Is Craig? and i would say Oh. He is On Safari...and they STILL ask..) anyway, i was sitting surfing the internet pretending to find an occupation which would bring in The Millions, when i heard the most enormous crash. i listened. no wailing kids. so i carried on surfing. but a nanosecond later i heard "mmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmmmmmmmaaaaaaaaaaa!" so i ran through to the other bathroom, and there, miraculously smashed in two or ten bits all over the floor, lay the cistern, and gushing forth, came All Our Water. A positive Tsunami. I froze. six children (three of mine and three Other Peoples Children) lined up big eyed and watched.

I screamed first. then i shouted "bloody hell. oh my god. GET THE BLOODY COLD BOX AND SOME BUCKETS. OH JESUS CHRIST!!! DON'T JUST STANDTHERE!!!" as i tried to stick my finger into a hole to stop the tsunami...all to no avail...eventually i turned around and screamed at all six of them


off they ran into the morning, barefooted across the hills in search of a man. they found reiner, our then neighbour, who arrived, shirtless, handsome, armed with every conceivable plumbing tool and a disarming smile. he calmly went and turned off the tap outside. simple. and said i would need a new cistern. on further routing questioning and succumbing to veiled and violent threats, a child confessed to swinging on the curtain above the toilet (which is really just a very long lamu kikoi swung over an iron bar which is sort of balanced up there)...
its a whirlwind out here i tell you.

things are still in a chaotic state. see pics below. spare room for The Parents and Myrtle's Bed still in pieces. pillows still in plastic and verandah cushions still scattered everywhere except on verandah....and the egg timer is running out...

(parents room LHS and Myrtle's Dismantled Bed Still In Parents Room RHS)

so my father arrives on thursday. my step mother emailed to say " don't be alarmed. he refuses to cut his hair until the court case has been resolved." don't ask about the court case. it's so convoluted i couldn't even tell you what it's about, really. something about the farm and some sharky man who is trying to get it off them. ripping old people off. my father is bald. white haired on the bits growing at the side which must be long now. he must look even more eccentric than ever before. he is 78. tall, dancing brown eyes (which are starting to fade), brown as a nut, a vibrant story teller, a whisky connoisseur, a lover of tomatoes, a terrible driver and possibly one of the most charming men you could ever choose to meet. the last time i saw him (two years ago) when he flew up to see us, he came striding through kilimanjaro airport, pith helmut donned (i am NOT joking) saying "bloody hell darling! you didn't send me your address...getting all sorts of hastles! jesus christ!!! BLAH BLAH"

my dear dad. always larger than life. always on an adventure. i can't wait to see him. i can't wait! (and don't forget to remind me to tell you about The Scars On His Tummy)...

Kitchen Board: Tuesday Evening: 17 June 2008

Contributors: Janelle and Gabby.

Comments: no guest stars tonight. all the little angels are sleeping. for some reason, they didn't sleep very well last night. it must have been the moon... (and by the way, i know how to spell angles.) toodely pip then, and lala salaama...(sleep well) xxx


http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

i loved the encounter with tan foam. my friend F and i went there once to buy matresses. we couldn't find the door but did find a large hole in the wall. we almost climbed thru it before we realised where the door was, policed by an African who was left in no doubt as to fact he had met maddest mzungus on the continent. your dad sounds like an explorer. and great fun. oh. and btw. good luck with fuzz. good luck! xxx

Ernest de Cugnac said...

There were some Indian traders in Pietermaritzburg, where I lived for a while. Bargaining was obligitory. If you didn't they'd say "10 rand, oh OK then 9 but that's it, I'm not taking less than 8!" I thought your guy had a pretty clever response.

Good luck with your visitors. Look forward to reading all about it.

Caroline said...

Soooo happy we haven't lost you yet...xxx

Janelle said...

thanks anthea! by all accounts i shall need the luck with fuzz! he sounds terribly charming on the phone though.
and ernest . . . indeed. very clever response! Maritzburg!> what were you doing there??
caroline?? nope, i am still here..and hope to squeeze in posts all the way...THANKS FOR READING! love love x janelle

lorix5 said...

Dear Janelle, i just found your blog(charming!)even tho i coulden't tell you how i got here,i'm so glad i am. I just wanted to let you know how i feel..it's like i'm reading a book i can't put down.my poor husband has had to listne to me for two days,"and then she did this...and OH! you won't believe what happened now..!!" i also wanted to tell you that you have inspired me to get running again. i have a similar sitch with my spouse when it comes to friendly;)competition. so this morning with the new coldplay downloaded to my ipod, i ran along the beach pretending i was running with you on ngorobob hill(whatever gets you through the run right?!ugh!)Cheers to you and your family(plus the ones coming still)enjoy every precious moment.
thanks so much,

Janelle said...

lori ! thanks for your gorgeous comment! LOVELY! thanks thanks thanks! and glad to hear you have started runnin!!! YESS! music is the only thing which keeps me going, getting past the 5kay mark...and karibu (welcome in swahili) to my blog..things slightly hectic, as you have read, at present, but will try and keep everyone updated as i go along! xxx janelle

tam said...

Wow. Good luck for the coming weeks and please give your dad the biggest hug from me. LOTS of love, thinking of you all.

Ernest de Cugnac said...

J - I was there an undergraduate 64-67, did a Masters, went to the UK, but returned for a spell as HOD in the mid 80s to teach there (psychology).