Thursday, January 22, 2009

Just a normal night out in Arusha or Gunfight at the Lively Lady

Husband is away in Nairobi for a few days so instead of hanging out at home alone I thought I’d take some mates up on an offer to go out. We all meet at The Lively Lady. Its one of those places that is a bit of a diamond in the rough. In town, just off the main road up a rickety back road; dirt, potholed. Right next to Mitumba – a big open warehouse of second hand clothes and surrounded by other tin shack shops and bars. It’s a funky place, small, neat and kind of surprising really. You know the way finding a pretty pebble or a shiny trinket in the mud is. Something like that! When you drive up you think “okaaay, is my car going to be safe here?”, but there are guards and the place feels like a little oasis. Clean swept, lots of pot plants, mats, funky pictures on the walls. There is a little outside bit with varnished tables and we pull three up together and all sit there outside and have a merry evening.

One by one, two by two people start to leave until there are 7 of us left. Just as I get up to go too a gunshot goes off at the little makeshift bar fifty metres away. It’s a little tin shack bar lit by paraffin lamps so its hard to see what’s going on. A woman shouts and falls to the ground. Lizzie says, “I think that place has just been robbed we should get out of here.” Someone else says “Ah, maybe that’s not the best time to go. All of us out and exposed in our cars? People with guns?” Good point. A moment of limbo. More shots. Two, three. Then three in quick succession from two feet in font of us. Turns out that’s a customer (or owner? Owner’s friend?) who has let off three shots. As in “don’t even try to come here, we’re not to be messed with”. Everyone still standing up in limbo, wondering whether to be British about the whole thing* and not cause a fuss or to hide under the tables. A couple of people get behind a small counter and as more shots go off Kim says to me, “Miranda, get inside, you’re two for the price of one!” And suddenly everyone is around the pregnant lady pushing me to safety! Well, relative safety. What friends I have!!! While all this is going on there is a table of four big burly Sikh men who are watching us with great amusement and just stay put.

So anyway, we get inside and then think. Hmmm, now what? Another drink? So everyone has another drink coz really what else are we going to do? I’m thinking, okay if they do come in here next they’ll probably want our bags so I’ll move my car keys to my pocket so they don’t get those. The barman/owner is very nonchalant “Don’t worry, it’s a domestic,” he says. "I bet there's some woman in there with a man she's not supposed to be with". The waiter has been outside to investigate. Miracle of miracles the police/rapid response people are already there. He says that it was indeed a domestic and a lady has been shot. In the hand I believe. Lizzy wants to go and do First Aid but the owner stops her and says that there is someone there doing it, not to go out. The barman/owner says “ah, women are very bad here” I look at him then look at us. We are a party of 7 and 6 of us are women. “I think you’re outnumbered” I say. “Oh no no, I don’t mean women like you I mean the local women, I mean…..” That she deserved it? Is that what he is implying? I don’t want to go down that road, doesn’t seem anyone does either. So we neck our drinks and decide to call it a night.

*Did you hear that thing on the BBC today that said that more British people died on the Titanic than anyone else coz they all stood in line for the lifeboats and said “no, you first” “No really, I insist” !!!

23 comments:

Val said...

i am glad you have good caring friends. Thats so funny (I think?) about the British thing...
xx

Miranda said...

I know, isn't it! On both counts!!

spacedlaw said...

Glad your friends looked after you. That must have been scary.

Angela said...

I hope you were not a bad lady and gave your tiny one booze to drink? But glad you all survived! Did you read my mail?

Miranda said...

Specedlaw - me too! It was quite. I'm used to lions and elephants not crazy people with guns!

Geli - of COURSE I didn't drink booze! Just everyone else...yes I did get your mail. Sorry for not replying yet. Yes box 100. Thank you, thank you!

Angela said...

Stern Auntie is content. Good girl. The post office is twenty minutes away, and I will fall off my feet at the moment, coughing like hell. I did go to the grocer`s but found I`d forgotten my purse...Friday, okay? No zip code yet?

Dumdad said...

One of the men on the Titanic actually dressed up as a woman to get onto a lifeboat. I hope he wasn't a Brit!

Mud in the City said...

Wow - that's a story for the baby one day! I remember a similar situation in a bar in Maputo - when a load of men got out big bull whips and bricks and set out into the night looking scary.

We too did the very British thing of having another drink and then trying to blend into the scenery - politely of course...

Reya Mellicker said...

Holy cow! Another drink was definitely called for.

Thank goodness for your great friends, also for your humor and for your great storytelling ability.

Who cares? Gosh. I do!!

tam said...

Wow, be careful what you wish for! Something interesting to blog about? Yeeha.

Blerry hell!

Something makes me want to tell Geli to photocopy that letter first. So precious!

Tessa said...

Ummhmm, familiar territory. The Kololo Chorus (dogs) and the odd gun shot were par for the course most nights in Kampala. Heh, maybe that's my problem....I miss living on the edge? Very quiet here in Hampshire.

Lori ann said...

Good Lord! that is SO scary to me. GUNSHOTS?? i don't think I could sit, well, ok, maybe if it were a really big drink... I think I live too sheltered a life...
glad to hear YOU are ok.
xxx

Jeannie said...

Eish - not so much fun. Glad you're ok. Mind you, also an early introduction to the overriding principal of motherhood (and probably fatherhood too, only I've never been one of those) - you're a twofer for the rest of your life now. It takes some getting used to, and the sense of responsibilty can be sometimes crippling, but I promise you that whether it happens instantly or whether it takes some time, you will never want to be any other way.

Hope life goes back to being uneventful now! Take care of you both :-)

Rob (Inukshuk Adventure) said...

What an exciting night out. NOT!
Wow, so glad your friends took care of you and you got out and home safely. Perhaps a bit too much excitement of the dangerous kind.

Janelle said...

oh stop making such a fuss will you! JESUS MO! no more going to down town bars now, you hear??? xxx j

karen said...

good heavens - what an amazing story, happy it turned out fine for you patrons of the Lively Lady!

Miranda said...

Karen - yes me too!!

Janelle - heh heh.

Rob - a good story though!

jeannie - yes indeed. It was quite scary which was a strange feeling for me as I've usually been pretty fatalistic about this sort of thing. I'm sure 4 months ago I wouldn't have been as worried but suddenly its not just about you anymore is it?

Lori - yes I think a big drink probably helps!

Tessa - yes indeed. Gunshots have become part of the night sounds in our neighbourhood, just never quite so close! And I imagine if that's what you've grown up with it takes some time getting used to the quiet!

tam - yes well quite! And I think Geli did photocopy the letter first

Reya - heh heh. Thanks for caring!!

Mud - gracious! That is a scene I can picture! Big bull whips and bricks and the Brits politely saying "oh don't mind us, sorry to get in your way, carry on, carry on!"

Dumdad - haha! That's funny. The meek shall inherit the moon

Geli - sorry to hear you're still feeling rough. I do hope you feel better soooooon. There is NO rush for the post box at all! xxxx

pam said...

Oh Miranda goodness. Glad you werent obligied to be a Brit. Glad you dint start a discussion with the owner because I seem to rememebr another occasion in Grahamstown where.......wasnt that around the same topic? Women as nerds? and your lovely gay friend hit the oke with her plaster cast??

Angela said...

I went to the pharmacy today and posted the letter on the way!

Miranda said...

Hello mama! I think the Britness is ingrained I'm afraid. Even though I'm not officially one. And yes luckily a street brawl of the scale of that one in Grahamstown was avoided!

SafariB said...

Ha ha.. I'm laughing. Nothing like scary stories to get you going hey! Hey Tessa - can relate to missing life on the edge too... Suffolk is a little "tame"..

I was in an armed holdup once in Lusaka - hiding rather undignified beneath the desk with everyone else in the office... just a couple of day's later found myself in England and saw a guy creeping around in the garden with a rifle and thought. NOt again!!! Silly wild imagination - he'd only come to shoot the rabbits.. Duh!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Good grief!! What a night on the town! Great friends you have. This reads like an old time wild west story. Happy you are safe!

The Pink Cowboy said...

Merciful Heavens!!! What a scary anecdote. If you are like me, you would have been thinking "this one is going to the blog" repeatedly throughout the ordeal.