Monday, July 26, 2010

smoke and feathers: love on the plains


there's always something wickedly exciting about packing the car and headin' west. out of town, past the airport, past the sunflowers and seeing kilimanjaro loom ahead of you, towering and glinting in the clouds. take a left turn just past sanya, where the road becomes narrow and quiet, winding and climbing between dry maize fields and lush forests. before you know it, you're on dirt red roads, listening to a stretched cassette of michelle shocked singing memories of east texas....everyone singing (well. actually just me) "i learnt to drive on those east texas red clay back roads...". the wind hurls the dust through the open windows. brushing hair is a thing of the past and our hearts float crazily and happily outside the car.



we were on our way to woodstock in the bush. a groovy hippy wedding, out on the windswept plains of ndarakwai, a wild ranch beneath the western breech of kilimanjaro.

flags fluttered prettily around the campsite, announcing ceremony and place.




as night fell, a massive bonfire was lit to ward off tendrils of cold and night monsters. the bride's sister, from australia, danced with her "fire balls"....(like fire dancing except with balls lit up by lead lights which changed colour all the time - orange, blue, green, pink, purple, red, whirling colour dervishes which really hurt when they smack you on the mouth or the head if the swirling gets out of control, as i discovered)...under the stars. glacial winds off kili kept the fire fairies spinning up to the moon whilst i chatted to the groom's mother all the way from moscow. i also saw my first ghost. a pale faced woman. with long dark hair, a high collared white shirt and a black long jacket. she floated out from the tree line, out of the silver star speckled night, straight behind irene. the mother said, " who are you looking at?" and before i knew it, the ghost had gone. i said, "i've just seen a ghost." she said " vat huff you been smoking?" but she saw it on my face. her dark russian eyes don't miss a thing. she took another sip of her stolichnaya vodka as a cloud slipped over the moon. i know a goddess when i see one so i followed suite and drank like a russian. (must learn not to peak so early.)





the groom arrived on a black horse called storm. they cut a dashing pair, prancing across the plain, towards the circle of friends, who were being "cleaned" by shaman rani with specially concocted incense, whisked up with guinea fowl feathers. my boys were terrible. giggling and wrinkling their nose at the smells of india and whispering things like " who's that witch mama?" with deepest respect, oh best beloveds, seeing they know one already. their mother. i sternly looked my long nose at them. they shut up smartly.



last born was a flower girl of sorts. she was perfect for the part. she wandered around the circle, handing out roses, her tangled hair, knotted with bougainvillia. a flower fairy to boot.





the black horse stamped his feet and held his head high, neighing. we stared across the plain and there came the bride, side saddle on a white princess arab mare, haling from the royal stables in spain. she sat perfectly on the horse, her dust orange silk veil, blowing prettily around her, being lead by my friend and vaquero par excellence, carlos. who looked ever so handsome. and from a safe distance, a herd of eland stood eloquently etched.




as she stepped so sweetly off her steed and gathered up her silks, i sang angel from montgomery with baab strummin' an out of tune guitar. it didn't matter. the wind tangled up the music.


my neighbour, bram, acted as the priest or guru or ceremony master or nini hii. (we kept some konyagi hidden in the basket just in case he needed to settle his guru nerves). but, i must confess, he was rather good at it. he married the man to the man initially. he really is rather a lovely guru, though. i'd let him marry me if i did it all over again. the shaman had to "clean" him, or probably bless him, with her smoke and feathers.


i sort of sniggered and thought golly, she'll have to do a lot of cleaning there. don't get me wrong. i'm mad about bram. completely. anyway. the exchanging of vows was beautiful. moving. and made me believe all over again in love, baby, love. the best kind. bram made us all do more oms. my boys embarrassed me again, snorting with giggles when everyone was supposed to be omming. it does tickle the lips though, i find. louise was excellent at it. at one point i thought he'd holler," and one for holland!" (he loves his football).


horses. love. spikey stars. a full moon of magic. smudgy sunsets. smoky fires. guitars. feathers. ghosts. music. mountain winds. russian vodka. fire dancers. what more could a cowgal ask for, eh?



you tell me.



toodely toot, oh bestests, bisous X.X.X. blazing red hot poker off the saddle ones. x j













Sunday, July 18, 2010

toyos and swing cutters.

(the swing cutter being an arse on ngorobob hill)

good lord. it's holidays and i haven't written for a week. . .apart from signing cheques. i have also discovered, that left to my own devices, i am crap at managing time. or actually achieving anything. i feel pressured without deadlines. how fucked up is that? three weeks later and i am still wondering if lisbeth salander killed everyone? i cannot get to the end of the frikken book. perhaps its the thought of starting the next one, which i know is gruelling. a True Story about an abused girl who spiralled into schizophrenia.


i have found myself at a complete loose end. or stuck on a hamster wheel of coffee, cigarettes, riding and OPK's. (other people's kids). why do they keep coming back? i am so horrible to everyone. added to this is my startlingly new and menial (to the point of wanting a satellite to plummet down and kill me) task of being a taxi driver for sub adults. for free. because i have to. i drive around arusha town, from A to B to X to C squared, which is treacherous at the best of times. now made worse by the The Toyo. http://toyomotorcycle.com/the toyo is a cheap Chinese chromed monster motorbike recently imported into tanzania. (remember when china bought africa at the beijing conference for a song? what a day that was. whoopee) everyone has one. a toyo. except me. i have adamantly and loyally stuck with a toyota.


the toyo is the new taxi in town. cheap, shiny, fast and infinitely mobile in heavy traffic. which would be perfect except that not many people have any experience in riding a motorcycle in these parts. a ward at mt meru hospital has recently been re named Toyo Ward because of the frequency of casualties caused by the irreverent use of the Toyo Motorcycle. they are not bicycles. but are ridden in a similar carefree fashion. driving in town, managing The Toyo Factor, has taken on a whole new dimension. rather like a computer game. i'm still "in" though. no hits taken, yet. my friend natasha isn't. she hasn't been quite as lucky. she was hit on the streets on friday whilst crossing the road to the doctors with her friend, who, we discovered yesterday, has tick bite fever and not an urinary infection, as diagnosed. (warning: everyone here has urinary infections which sort of eventually morph into malaria, tick bite fever or tryps). she was fortunate. my friend natasha. she escaped with two stitches in her lip, a graze on her elbow, a bump on her head and a rather bruised foot where the bike rode over her. still. she's "out". (the toyo game. game over. new game? new level?)


she made quite a sight, it must be said, wandering marginally dazed around the car park at shopright (affectionately known as shoplift), looking like Dracula after a good feed. pale with blood streaming down her chin, onto her pretty shirt and smiling grimly.


hill life has become as treacherous as town. there is no where to turn to. i am sharing the space with two pre pubescent boys and one seven year old girl who is obsessed with fairies in jars and acts like my god. i can't do anything wrong without her knowing. it's exhausting being watched all the time. where are you going? what did you say? who are you talking to? you have a message on your phone. you can't say that. wear this. what are you going to wear? what are you looking at? why? where? perfume. now.
i. am. watching. you.
even in my sleep.
in your face.

to top it all, at a hill dinner precisely three nights ago (my god has insisted i am precise. i am not allowed to say "the other day" EVER.) i was informed by my gracious and divine friend and neighbour that My Boys Had Cut Her Boys Swing Down, with knives, when everyone was away. their little sister aka my god spilled the beans. "oh yeah. my brothers cut your swing down. they told me." when the perturbed (understandably) mother challenged them, my sons made a weak, transparent and thoughtless attempt to try and blame The Poor children. so not only did they do this ghastly deed but then lied and tried to blame the innocent, defenceless impoverished masses. good god! whatever for, for christ's sake? i became so preoccupied with this news that i had to leave the dinner immediately after death by chocolate pudding. i remained calm on entering the home, where they sat with flat caps and pimples listening to preposterous music. i magnificently managed to thwart the wild, screaming witch mother, who was growing like the green Incredible Hulk inside of me, bursting through its T shirt. through devious and extremely sophisticated methods, i managed to wangle out a tearful confession from second born (as pictured above). on being asked "but why? why this pointless act?" his answer: " because they annoyed me." oh. so if someone slightly annoys you, just go and damage their lovely things while they are away? right. i see. makes perfect sense. should i be worried?

they are now demanding spray paint for graffiti. the bakers are away. i fear for their house.

it is precisely half past ten in the morning and they are STILL asleep. apart from my god who is away visiting. doubtless i will have to report, in detail, everything i have said and done, if she hasn't already psyched it out of me, when i collect her. best i start making notes then. yay. a dead line. i feel safe.

toodely old toot, people. bisous X.X.X brave and flamboyantly long ones smack on the lips x j




Saturday, July 10, 2010

The V Incident....(TVI)


why oh why did i even mention it? The Vibrator Incident? ( TVI to which it shall hereafter be referred.) where do i even begin? it seems a quagmire of pitfalls....i cannot win. either way. why didn't i say perhaps i should write about maasai marriage rituals? or elephant poaching in maswa? or Life In Tanzania? or 10 ways to make fairies in jars? no. i had to mention TVI in a momentary, undisciplined lapse of reason.


anyway. not to let all you hopefuls down, there i was one saturday afternoon, buried deep in my novel when "it" caught my eye, lying forgotten in a curtained cupboard next to my bed. (i think the last time it was seen out was by second born who accidentally arrived too early in the morning and picked it up and said "what's this?" holding it next to his ears as if it was a telephone.) it was hurriedly packed away, with me muttering things about de hairing legs whilst slipping seamlessly and purple faced underneath the hyrax rug. it must be said that from that point on it developed a technical hitch, so to speak. it became temperamental, switching itself off at the most poignantly wrong times then waking up at three in the morning, humming happily on the floor. the problem with it, is that it is completely sealed. terribly modern looking. (it has three speeds) you can't get "in" anywhere. to conclude, it hasn't been behaving quite as it should. well. not according to the manual.


so yes. where was i? saturday afternoon, nose buried deep in book ( a detective thriller, just in case any of you start wondering what on earth made me reach out for TV), when i saw it lying there and thought, eh, yeah, well why not ? let me give it a twirl, as a girl does. i pressed the on button. nothing. i pressed it again. nothing. then without warning, it roared into life, speed 10, sounding like a Cessna 206 in a furious nose dive. WTF? it was VERY loud. and dangerously fast. not quite what i was needing just then. i pressed the button for low speed. nothing. i pressed off. nothing. i pressed off again. nothing. did i mention it was VERY loud? in a dead panic i leapt off the bed, my thumb pressed urgently and desperately on the "off" button, on the "slow fucking down and shut up" button. nothing. by now, with a sinking feeling, i realized i had A Situation on my hands. it was furious and buzzed and shook with evil intent. it had a life of its own. it had gone independent. it wanted to shout out from a mountain top: look what SHE does on a saturday afternoon mbwahahahah...


red faced and desperate, i started hammering it against the stair rails to break it. i repeatedly thwacked it against a shelf. nothing. instead it seemed to roar even louder. i wanted to run to the edge of a cliff and throw it away but i couldn't get out of the house. never mind down the stairs....imagine?

"ma? what's that? what on earth are you doing?"


no. no options here but to shut this effing thing up.


i raced downstairs, leaving it barely muffled amongst my socks, dancing horribly around my knickers, to find a hammer. i was going to smash it to death. well. hammer the off button. which i did. but nothing. i then thought of throwing it in a bucket of water but feared electrical complications. nothing for it but to wrap it up in my thickest jumpers and bury it deep in a basket, and pile bag after bag on top of it, the put the whole thing deep amongst my clothes. which i did. i sleep in a loft. on a mattress on a wooden floor. the "wardrobe" is above the bathroom. i rushed downstairs and stood underneath it. an evil hum prevaled, overriding the bee hive in the eaves. but i thought if i opened the window of the bathroom, you could mistake it for a noise from the factory. ....? yes? (hopeful) head cocked and listening........no. no. no. NO. bad idea. when eliza or vero came upstairs to drop the mozzie nets and spray they would hear it and FIND it....i sped off to the kitchen and ever so nonchalantly told them that they didn't have to do my room today. no. no. i would. and shouted at the children to all leave the house immediately and go and play outside for godsakes... you've all been hanging around doing NOTHING. get out get out get out!!!! shoo shoo shoo.


they looked warily at me and said "ma why are you in such a bad mood?"

"i'm not i'm not just go OUTSIDE! now!" i went back to the horror ten minutes later and it hadn't lost any momentum. it was howlin' and a buzzin' and a hummin' with a frightening persistence. what kind of bloody battery do these things have? then i thought " Oh. My. God. it's going to get so hot in there, all wrapped up in wool, It Could Catch On Fire!" i checked it. no. the temperature seemed stable. i muffled it again. if i could have, i would have choked it with my bare hands. instead, i would leave it until the life ran out of it. let things run their course. by now, it was starting to stammer, ever so slightly, but then would roar back to life with an insane revenge. terrible. terrible.


i fled for my daily horse ride, leaving it humming menacingly in the wool jumpers. an hour and a half later, i gingerly stepped underneath it, into the bathroom, and listened. silence. nothing. THANK GOD. i walked upstairs expecting to find a lilac, molten plastic lump but instead i found it perfectly formed but thank baby jesus and angels of the world, silent and still, to my enormous relief.


and that my bestests, is that. i shall NEVER use it again. i shall revert back to simple old fashioned ways.


i now have to find a way to get rid of it. i am not climbing meru or kili. (to throw it off a cliff like in The Gods Must Be Crazy) in any case, if i did throw it off a cliff, i am sure it will be discovered when the aliens come and take over the world a million years from now. they will pick it up and ponder, "hmmmmm. Bozoid Two Six, look what i found? what do you think This is? a telephonic brain reading device?" and mistakenly press the "on" button with their froggy suction fingers. . . . . .they would, in all likeliness, have to laser beam the fuck out of it, while giving each other the "V" sign...


toodely old toot, y'all. bisous X.X.X. thunderingly real ones. x j






Monday, July 5, 2010

vuvuzelas and evil clamping men...


tan ta rah!

i'm back, blogging babies, from out of space. and it's good to be back, like gary glitter sang.
and did you? did you hang my picture on your wall?

blah.

i survived the tsunami. just. almost in one piece. flaked out on an empty wind swept beach near an empty town, sort of wrapped around a sturdy piece of driftwood, like sea weed, staring dumbstruck around me. and one white kikoi stained for life with ceasar's purple blood lying carelessly next to me.


i am sitting on the hill contemplating eight weeks of holidays ahead. how glorious is that? it'll be like all the others. fires at night. riding in wintry mornings and lilac twilights. drinking more hot milo than is sensible and thinking thinking thinking until i fall asleep and before i know it, i'll be back at school and the cushions still won't be covered.


having not written for a while, this might take some practice. do not adjust your sets.


you'd think i'd have a stack of things to say. . . as high as the stack of books next to my bed which i intend to read over the hols. delicious.


maybe it's easier to just make a list:


1. we have a goat. a chief from lake natron gave it to safari craig for a present. lake natron is where the wild things are - wild and windswept and remote. the goat is little and white and bleats. a lot. i suspect it isn't used to this cold hill. it comes from desert country. safari craig isn't here, obviously. the safari season is in full tilt. but he did have the sense to send a message on a cleft stick (ok from his sat phone) warning me of its arrival and saying to please not eat it until he gets home in when, september? daughter is appalled at the thought and would've quickly become heidi on the hill in no time. so i have moved it to the otherside of the hill. near nyamuhanga's house. in order to save it from sure death - by wrapping a vuvuzela round its ears. oh that's next item.


2. the vuvuzelas. . . what hideous inventions. i confiscated the yellow one today with more than vague threats of violence to the next sub adult who sounds one on this here hill. anyway. the vuvuzelas can be buried now that bafana bafana are out and ghana. who cares who wins now.


3.) some *(&^%$ tried to clamp the car in town today claiming i had parked it crookedly. there isn't even a line there, for christ's blinking sake. clingy beetle (3rd born and girl) was marvelous. as the arguing on the street became fiercer along with the swelling crowd, with me threatening to phone "my lawyer" and the shop owner hurling abuse in swahili as fast as a black mamba, her lower lip began to wobble and she began to wail. (with no encouragement from me either like at police road blocks and with border crossing bullying tactics.) the gathering crowd for once was on our side. i managed to furrow my brow and look like evita peron on the stand. and squeeze out a few crocodile tears. i furiously stammered at the crooked clamping man "now look what you've done. you've made the child cry!" the hairdresser looked out from her dukka and said "call your lawyer. call your lawyer." the evil clamper eventually relented. either because all his cronies had done a runner and he faced the crowd alone or because he had a heart. i like to think it was the latter.


we headed straight out of town after that, swearing we wouldn't ever go back, bought a teddy bear from mohammed's store near home and had a sobering few cups of coffee.


yes. so i'm back.


this feels weird.


next time i'll write about love and The Vibrator Incident.


toodely old toot y'all, bisous X.X.X. wintry by the fire ones. x j