Thursday, October 30, 2008

That shiny mountain

You know those clear shiny days where you see everything through refracted rainbow light and nothing can go wrong?  Everything you see holds a certain sparkly beauty and the things you touch don’t break for a change? Well I had one of those. Yesterday.


I wonder if it’s the mountain? They hold such a powerful energy don’t they? We live under Mt. Meru and although we can’t actually see her from our house, we have our own little weather system that is different from anyone who lives even five kilometers away. And when she is clear and close and rose tinted, as she was yesterday, it seems impossible not to have a positive day.


We had a dress rehearsal yesterday. At the Wednesday market in Tengeru. It was a fairly big crowd – about 200 people – and they laughed in all the right places and seemed to really enjoy it so that’s FAB! And the acrobats came and did a few gravity- defying stunts beforehand which was great. I just LOVE to watch them. And the performance was in view of the mountain and although it was performed in the midday sun and essentially on the edge of a rubbish pit everyone seemed to have a good time and it was still a lovely sparkly day.


Oh and on the way to work I got pulled over by the police and they almost immediately let me go again without even checking anything! How lucky is THAT!


And then….and THEN….I went to Janelle’s and got my kitten. Aaaaaahhhh. So sweeeeet. Right now he is sitting on my lap, curled up like a hedgehog, fast asleep probably dreaming of warm milk.

Monday, October 27, 2008

I told you so

Because I am a mature adult I do not jump up and down point my finger at someone’s face and cheer gleefully “I told you so” when I…well…when I told you so.

But because I am a blogger I can tell the rest of the world about me being right and being big enough not to jump up and down shouting “I told you so.” Except I suppose I am doing that right now on a much grander scale…Ah well, so be it.

Oh it’s a good feeling isn’t it? Being right?

If you’ve been following, a few months ago I helped out with some safari guide examining. I have been doing this on and off for ten years and although I’m not a specialist in any particular field (I think this is a good thing?) I’m pretty good at it and can spot a poor candidate from ten paces. I am not fooled by big words and trickery. We (my fellow examiners and I) agreed on almost all candidates except one. I wanted to fail him. He was a blagger of the biggest note. A man who doesn’t actually LOOK at the situation and animals and interpret it for you but instead will just spew off all the dreary facts – gestation period, weight, number of young. All the boring shit. On numerous occasions there was some really exciting stuff happening – waterbucks trying to mate, giraffes trying to mate (it was a frisky time). And he just. Didn’t. Notice. Almost drove into them in fact while he reeled off their stats. Too busy talking and trying to impress us with his big words. Anyway, I was all for failing him and said as much. Again and again. But I was vetoed by the other two and he passed. Although I made very clear to him in his brief at the end that it was by the skin of his teeth and had it been up to me I would have failed him.

SO, just a couple of nights ago I saw one of my fellow examiners and she said that she regrets passing him and it was a mistake – he hasn’t turned out as well as they’d hoped. And I – I furrowed my brow and said, “ah, that’s a shame.” Although of course inside and in my mind’s eye I was standing on the table punching the air and shouting “YESSSS!! YESSSS!” and singing, “Nanananana. I was ri-ight”

No, no, wait, that’s not it - there’s another one! The actress that I didn’t want to hire has also turned out to be a real nightmare. Blank, trouble causing, crap at acting. It was a bit of a weird one as the company that has employed me to do this play for them chose the pool of actors that I was to audition from. So I auditioned them and gave the company my selection. They wanted to add this actress, T. I didn’t. They insisted. I gave in. And just today they said that they seriously regretted hiring her (although I think they have amnesia as to their insistence at her getting hired). Anyway. This one I don’t get as much satisfaction for being right as I was the stupid arse that gave in to their requests and I’m the stupid arse that’s having to deal with all the problems now.

I must listen to myself more, no?

Still, it’s a good feeling!

Friday, October 24, 2008

My heart, she runs away with me

Its been an odd one.

My day was book-ended by two notable cars. Driving to work this morning there was a minibus in front of me that was trying to spray water onto its windshield. But the squirty things on the bonnet were obviously pointing the wrong way because it was spraying a lovely comely arc (in the glorious morning sunshine) straight onto MY windscreen. Completely missing its designed destination. Their windscreen wipers were swooshing overtime – as if to some funky jazz - but not getting much water. And they kept spraying. And spraying. And spraying. And I kept laughing and laughing and laughing.

And on the way home tonight I was driving behind a yellow VW beetle that was not doing anything special, just pootling along and it made me want to go and tickle someone. I love beetles.

Anyway, I’ve been all emotion today. As you can probably tell. Swing swing swing.

Work. Bla. Feeling a little trudgey. Finding rehearsal quite hard. Difficult to try and dig deep into the nuances of characterisation when you only have half a language under your belt. Lots of blank stares. I’ve been getting that all week. Anyway, we’re nearly done and I’m always waay too critical of myself work-wise so gave myself a good talking to (but not sure if I actually listened, as my sister pointed out). Oh also quite hard because two of the actors (ex lovers) had a fist fight a couple of days ago. During rehearsal. Uhhuh. And last night she called the cops on her ex boyfriend who got locked up overnight. And they all live near each other so hardly anyone got any sleep and we were minus two people at rehearsal. But we forged ahead and we shall see what monday brings.

And I spoke to my sister and our best friend from university has gone back into the hospital and that, I am just blocking that out for now. I cannot deal with it.

THEN (am I boring you?) I went to a concert tonight. Yes. A real live concert with world class (no I mean it, real proper world class) performers. Who all live here in Arusha. A cellist, a violinist, a guitarist, a sax and flute man (I don’t know how to spell flautist. Oh there.) A dancer. And there was music and improv and dancing. And it restored me.

There was the professionalism, the vibe, the energy, the fun, the chemistry that I have been missing. There. And I drank it in. Osmosised it. Whatever its called.

And I looked about the makeshift stage they had there and I pictured our new play. Opening night. Here. The one with the acrobats. The one that is going to be mind blowing. For this wee town, anyway. And I was inspired again.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Drums - a disjointed and rambling post

My last year of university I lived in caravan park with my mate Greg. He lived in the trailer bit (which had the wee kitchen, bathroom and ‘lounge’) and I had the caravan. It was rusty, the windows didn’t close and was sodding freezing in the winter. One winter I was in my bed, wearing as many items of clothing I could, with my duvet, blankets, jackets and the whole contents of my wardrobe piled on top of me. Brrr. And I woke up in the middle of the night, curled up under all this kit and thought I was a pie! I wasn’t on drugs either, I swear!

One lazy Sunday afternoon a posse of us, mostly made up of crazy Zimbabweans, had one of those fabulous impromptu two-day boozing sessions. One mate found a tyre somewhere and we were all rolling it about the place, being silly old students. Greg and I lived (if you can call it that, squatted, more like), on top of the slope. One of our chums had the tyre, lost control of it and it bumped into our neighbour’s caravan. The neighbour was a massive, bearded, long socked, slightly red fellow (you know the type) - and he came out brandishing a pistol! Fuuuck!!!

Anyway, this post is about drums (would you believe it?) and not yet another trip down memory lane. I’m getting lots of those from fellow blogger and university chum fush and chips if you’d like any more Rhodes tales, he writes amazingly. Anyway, back to drums...The caravan park was near Grey’s Dam and the hippies, all clad in tie-dye spirals and smokey haloes, used to go down to the dam and play their drums all night long. A tenuous drum link, but there you go.

Obviously, having grown up in very rural Africa and working with drama troupes here I’ve been exposed to my fair share of drums. Whenever we have a show (in village or in town) we play the drums for about two hours to call the audience in. It’s bloody hard work actually, but amazing. Oh this makes me sound like I know how to play drums. I so don’t I’ve tried but…nope. I just help with the crowd entertainment, do a bit of dancing so that people can laugh at me and be happy. I’m okay with this solution!

We left our drums out one night (stupidly) and the hyenas came and ate the skin off. Duh!

My sister and I worked on a book on Traditional Zambian Ceremonies last year and travelled around the country. Was amazing to see all the different kinds of drums in different parts of the country.

And it seems that drums in Tanzania are different too. So since I’m now working with a new drama group here we’re on a drum mission. We tried to buy some but they were massively expensive and poor quality so two of the actors said, “oh we know how to make drums” so that’s what I spent my Saturday morning doing. Not making drums, but holding my nose and taking pictures of other people making drums! Coz boy do those skins SMELL!
(I can't get those pics up right now, maybe later, kay?)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

That MOON!

Nothing profound, just to share with you that tonight, as I was driving from a friend’s photographic exhibition in town to another friend’s house for impromptu red wine and pizza (doncha just love friends?), I saw the moon. Oh my. Driving through town, its dark, I’m getting a bit up my own ass because there are so many cars with no lights on the road; I’m getting a bit cross. The traffic is crazy, there are bicycles everywhere, one eyed cars, I’m concentrating on not smacking into anyone. It’s dusty, hazy, crazy. And I look up.

And there.

Is the moon.

Hanging above the buildings, in all her splendour.

Ab-so-lutely gorgeous. Big big bigger than ever, swollen with pride. And I literally gasped. Caught my breath.

And then nearly smacked into someone so had to focus on the road again. And get grumpy at the one-light-no-lights-broken-down-trucks-no-street-lights-crazy-driving that is Arusha.

Ah, but that MOON!

Friday, October 10, 2008

On mitumba, actors and thieves

Ah a great day was had today. By me anyway. I hope you all had a good day today too.

Went to mitumba with the actors to buy costumes this morning. I have written about mitumba before but I think it deserves another tribute. Ah, mitumba! Imagine an area the size of a rugby field (that old line) dotted, strewn – what’s the right word? – piled? - with heaps upon heaps upon heaps of second hand clothes. Anything and everything you can think of. Sequined ball gowns to cruddy shoes to 50cent t-shirts. Can you imagine anything more satisfying? More exhilarating? More fun? Probably. But it’s GREAT! I LOVE it! I was about to say I’m not one for retail therapy, for shopping for shopping’s sake, but that’s actually not true at all. Heh heh. But I think that’s only because I’ve never lived in a city and it’s still all a bit novel. But mitumba? Mitumba is different. Extra special.

Anyway. Bla.

Today we went to a new mitumba for me - a different, open air one. ‘The cheap one.’ And indeed it is. We bought: 5 pairs of trousers, 14 t-shirts, 8 pairs of shorts, 2 skirts, 5 shirts, 3 khangas and probably lots more that I’ve forgotten for under 50 bucks. Not bad, huh? Oh and – since it was all a bit manic and I was trailing 11 people – I managed to be blinkered and not get distracted by pretty pink, shiny things. Well done me. But it’s open every Friday and Monday I’m told so I’ll be back. You betcha.

Then we all piled into a series of daladalas (minibus taxis) back to work. You know the scene. About 35 people crammed into a bus made for 14. Armpits in your face, babies on your lap, chatter, laughter, general good cheer.

Except at one changeover station, busy busy, loads of pushing and shoving, where a man pushed into me and stuck his fingers in my pocket. Ha. I was not to be fooled. I shouted, pulled his fingers out and bent them back. He then put his hands up and pretended to be all innocent. Yeah right. We were standing right next to a big storm drain and the actors said I should have pushed him in. Heh heh. Maybe next time, Mr mwizi man.

I always find afternoons a bit hard getting people to act – especially the physical stuff. Acting no – acting up, yes. Especially after a MASSIVE lunch of stodgy ugali (maize meal). Especially with new actors who have not yet been at the brunt of my slave driving ways. Nyahahahaha. Lots of eyebrows thrown skyward and sighs and dragging feet (literally. Ooooh nothing annoys me more than dragging feet). And THAT’s not going to help your cause! Anyway, so we knocked off early, and I rode home (first day to brave the crazy scary traffic in town on my motorbike – sorry mom!), inhaling fumes, with the bright sun in my eyes, a full tummy and a successful first week of working in Tanzania behind me. Hurrah!

Three cheers.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Walk on

Ladies and gentlemen, progress has been made. Brain, creativity and inspiration have come skulking back. Not entirely mind, they’re still prowling around the periphery, taking quick nibbles at the chocolate brownies but it looks promising. Thanks for all the encouragement.

So yes, progress on that front. And hopefully progress on a much bigger ‘just say no’ front. I grew up in the safari industry. I have been indoctrinated with ‘accommodate, accommodate, accommodate’ from a very early age. Go out of your way, FHB (family hold back) ‘shhhh the clients!’ So, in short, I cannot say no. And people can sense this and they pounce in spectacular fashion. I could write a (very boring) book on all my experinces. Just yesterday, a woman cornered me and jabbered on an on and on for about 45 minutes. About what? I have no idea! It was in very rapid fire Swahili. I got the first bit that she has a child who needs sponsorship through school. Artist, fixer…drawer…..tanzanite…..dig…..roots…..what’s your address…………phone number please…….I’ll find you actors….. Umm. Yes, that’s all I got. 45 minutes. Of me nodding and looking over my shoulder and saying “um…”. Oh dear I really must get a grip. I eventually managed to scurry off.

Then, miracle of miracles, I (finally) put my foot down on the work people coming to watch rehearsals and commenting every three minutes, questioning my choice of this, my interpretation of that, my casting on her. On day one. Go away. Come back after ten days. And it worked. So easy! (thanks Tam!)

THEN today. As I was walking out of the rehearsal venue this afternoon a man stopped and shouted at me: “Praise the Lord!”
I faltered but (phew) kept on walking, with memories of my first day of university, reverberating in my mind like a recently gonged gong. Of being sniffed out as easy prey and sitting in a circle with a group of fresh faced youth singing kumbaya and holding hands (I’m not joking! How did I get myself into THAT situation?? Oh and I was just sitting there looking bewildered. I was not singing kumbaya).

Anyway, back to the “PRAISE THE LORD!” man.

I kept walking.

And he shouted after me: “Say His name. Say His name! Say Jesus Christ!”I’d got to my car at this point (him shouting across the parking lot at me) and I shouted, over my shoulder “Jesus Christ”. It sounded like I was swearing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I shan’t use this as a forum to bitch about work or people.

But I would like to thank Tam, dear sister of mine, for knowing and calling me and letting me rant – sorry about the phone bill!

Therefore I have nothing to say, really


a very good night to you all.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On the run

My brain and my creativity have gone off in a huff together. Turned into bloody sulking teenagers. Or maybe they’ve run away to Zanzibar. How dare they leave me behind? Well, I don’t blame them really, I’ve been in such a strop of late. As a result the plays (yes that’s plural) that I am supposed to start rehearsing tomorrow lie semi formed in my head. Bugger, shit.

Had a session with the acrobats today. We’ve come up with some fun images but that’s it. Every time I try and string them together into a story line it just comes out so…bla. I know these things take time and I always feel this daunted at the beginning of this process but am starting to PANIC!!

Please come back? If I’m nice and feed you chocolate brownies?

Oh and if you do decide to return, will you bring Inspiration back with you? Please please?


chocolate brownies?

Friday, October 3, 2008

At least I don't have diarrhoea

I am feeling a little befuddled today. Got a mild dose of the morbes which is unusual, but it’ll pass. Soon soon.

Ah, I don’t mean to complain. I have a very fabulous life. I am very VERY lucky. At least I don’t have diarrhoea.

Just after the Millenium I had a difficult year, money wise. I was working, but being paid a pittance and hadn’t actually been paid for about 8 months. And I was broke broke broke. Luckily I was in Luangwa where living can be cheap. I had my own ramshackle wooden house, inherited from my grandfather so I didn’t have to pay rent. My aunt (also going through a hard period at the time) was also there and the two of us could only afford one meal a day of nsima (stiff mealie meal porridge – the staple in Zambia) and rehydrated beans. And every day we’d sit down to our meal and say:
“Well, at least we’re alive”
“At least we’ve got legs”
“At least we CAN eat”
“At least we don’t have diarrhoea”

So now that’s the standard “things could be worse line”. At least we don’t have diarrhoea. Coz that really IS grim isn’t it?

Oh and one day, about 7 months in - of this one-meal-of-nsima-and-beans-a-day - we sat down to lunch, started eating and both said “Hmmmm, something’s different. What is it? Yum.” And then we realised it was burnt. A little variation goes a long way.

And suddenly at the end of the year we both got a windfall. I finally got paid, after lots of fighting, paid back my debts and was almost back to square one. But not quite. So my aunt and I got the bus to Jo’burg (a 28 hour straight through bus ride), stayed at my cousin’s house and went into the shops in the flash area of Jo’burg. Oh what a sight we must have been! Both really really skinny, probably pretty scruffy too. Walking in and out of the aisles in the fancy supermarket just looking. We spent hours in there, just walking up and down, up and down. It was Christmas the next day so evetually we dragged ourselves away from the aisles and bought as many veggies as we could afford. Just veggies – broccoli and patti pans and squash and beetroot. It was like Christmas. It WAS Christmas. And then we got back to my cousin’s house (she was away), locked ourselves in steamed all the veggies and ate and ate and ate! That was probably one of the best Christmas meals ever!!

Ah, I feel better already!

So to cheer myself up I’ve been looking at pictures of South-East Asia from our honeymoon earlier this year. I took THOUSANDS. Literally thousands of pictures. So it VERY hard to choose. But today, I give you this one:

Thursday, October 2, 2008

This one's for Mud

me, many moons past
Not Enough Mud and I were (sortov) cybertalking about the fabulousness of mud. So this one's for her

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Pet Talk

me and baby crocodile

I was riding my bike yesterday and saw a squashed hedgehog on the road and, as these associations often go, the first thing I thought of (okay second thought, after ‘agh shame’) was that I haven’t had a pet in absolute ages. Since I moved here anyway.

Let me explain.

The thought pattern went thus:
Dead hedgehog lead me to think of my pet baby hedgehog that I smuggled in to Zambia from boarding school in Malawi. On the plane, in a biscuit tin full of tissue. When asked by the customs lady what was in the tin I told her I had a cold and this was all my snotty tissue – opened it up to show her, tipping the baby hedgehog under the tissues as I did so. She shood me on pronto. Anyway THAT got me to thinking about my mom who said she had a hedgehog as a pet that used to walk around and around and around her room or garden all night until it’s feet bled. She says they don’t like being kept captive. So she let hers go and I never got a chance to test the theory as mine died before it grew up.

And THAT got me thinking about the pet dassies (rock hyraxes) that my mother had, before I was born. She had two of them and one day, when she was asleep the one dassie kept running up to her, jumping on the bed and running to the door. And again and again. Jump up on the bed, onto her face, and run to the door. Eventually my mother got up and followed the dassie, who took her into the bathroom where the other one had fallen into the toilet! Isn’t that sweet? And clever? She managed to rescue it from an unpleasant death in the bog. Yuk.

THEN, coz if you’re still with me you’re following my thought pattern (what an insight, what an honour) I thought about all the pets I’d had over the years and how, since I couldn’t think of anything to blog about, maybe I should tell ya’ll about some of my pets. Too many to tell you about them ALL, but some highlights. In no particular order:

There was Mohawk the porcupine, who was very very very cute. We got him when he was a tiny tiny thing, could fit into the palm of your had, all soft quilled and shnoffly nosed. He grew up to be pretty massive, but when you tried to pick him up would flatten his quills so that you could pick him up easier (ish). Anytime we ate chocolate he would stamp his little feet and get really grumpy. He gnawed a hole in my parents door and slept under their bed.

Nido was not a favourite of mine. He was a monkey and a horror. Used to bite my sister and I on the back of the neck ALL the time. And throw spectacular tantrums. Jump onto the dining table and throw glasses about the place and curl his little hands into fists and pound the table. He was a MENACE. He used to prize your eyes open when you tried to sleep and your mouth when you were eating something. Literally get his little grubby fingers into your mouth and steal your food. The only time he was ever cute was in the evening when he’d get all sweet and coo-ey and cuddly and get into your jacket or shirt. But that usually didn’t last long coz he would then poo and THAT is not a pleasant thing.

Noah was an elephant and too sweet for words. But too long and sad a story to tell here.

The warthogs, Widdle and Miss Piggy – a decade apart – were very sweet. Miss Piggy got attacked by a lion once, on the building site where my uncle was building his house. The lion leaped out the bush and latched onto her neck but because she had grown rather fat over the years, he couldn’t get a good enough grip. Then the labourers chased the lion off wielding spades and wheelbarrows (can you believe it??). And Miss Piggy survived. And so did the labourers!

Umm, what else. My mother is into falconry and when I was about 11 we both had a Lizard Buzzard each. That was cool. Not VERY trainable, but we made all the kit and they got used to chasing a lure and flying onto your welding-gloved-arm when you called them with a whistle.

While we’re on birds – ah too many of those to count. Most ending in heartbreak at the jaws of Fang (Bird and Squirrel Devourer of Extra Tooth fame.) Some, reared from tiny pink featherless aliens, lived to soar and be set free. Although a few of those tried to come back home to roost and got chomped by Fang. It was a constant battle, that.

There were a few other cats, Generator, C-fa (C for Cat (obviously pronounced see for cat), who I wanted, in my innocence, to call K-fa since I was learning the phonetic alphabet at the time. Needless to say this was not allowed!) - she used to go for walks like a dog. One cat, I forget which, gave birth on my tummy one night while I was asleep. Now THAT was gross.

And lots of squirrels. Vertigo, Sebastian.

The civet, Rayban, was also VERY sweet, a little smelly at times, when he marked his territory. Cuddly and playful. And once he had grown up he was pretty nocturnal so we didn’t see him much.

We tried a dog once, but it got taken by a leopard.

The genets stuck around for ages after they’d grown up. They’d sleep in the rafters in the day and come every evening for a snack. We had two of them and when they were all grown up then we were brought another one - a baby - who I, home from school, adopted and called Livingstone. He was a cutie. But the other two obviously didn’t want him in their territory and killed him one night. I was distraught. He used to sleep in my armpit at night and one day I woke up to blood on the bed. I went looking for him but my mother sussed out what was going on and rushed in and steered me out the room, obviously seeing his body under the bookshelf. Jay, not known for his tact kept saying, “Whatever you do, DON’T look under the bookshelf!” So of course I did. But what was another wee dead animal heartbreak in my short life? I’d seen so many – the cat literally whipped one of my mice off my shoulder once. Anyway, I was particularly upset at the genet’s death, for some reason, so my ma took me to the island across from us and we climbed a big mchenja tree and sat there for hours and hours, mourning the little fellow. Wasn’t that a nice thing to do?

The bushbuck, Rigby, was big enough for the cat not to kill and he stuck around for a long time after he grew up. We could recognise him from his squiffy leg. One of my sister’s massive History text books fell off her shelf and landed on his leg, breaking it. So he was in a plaster cast for a while, but seemed to manage just fine.

People from far and wide would bring me the most hopeless little creatures. Tiny, bald unidentifiable blobs (I THINK it’s a bird/mouse/squirrel). And I would lovingly wake up every two hours, make special milk formula – different for each different critter – get attached and get my heart broken, month in month out. Lots survived. Lots didn’t. And finally I knew I was cured when someone came to me (I was out of my teens now) with a brood of day-old wrinkly, pink, blind mice that they’d found in the storeroom. And I just couldn’t. I had reached saturation point.

So its time for a new pet, I think. I have my dear cat Clever Bollocks, but she stayed in Zambia and is happy there. I have also had quite a few pet lice of late, but I don’t really want THEM thank you very much. my sis and widdle

But soon, soon I’m going to get one of Janelle’s kittens (maybe I’ll try and sneak two away, heh heh)

Oh, and we also had a couple of owls, a chicken called Dixie. Bla bla bla. You bored yet?

A final note: I think my alarming hair needs to be acknowledged. In my defense mu mother was my hairdresser. She's an artist. 'Nuff said.