Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Of shared meals and stolen worlds

I don't like eating by myself so much so that I would go to the extent of saying I 'hate' it.

Hate is a tricky word. You toss it out there nonchalantly, perhaps remarking to a friend on how you hate people who talk too much and can't mind their own business and you go on for the better part of a half hour even going to the extent of tossing in a few examples, some picked from your mutual pool of friends or more likely from your exclusive (you think) pool of acquaintances. Lips pursed, mssschew and a few one sided conspiratorial chuckles punctuated with question marks inviting your friend to share in your ire and the apparent mirth you seem to derive from this exercise. Your friend stares at you, hmmms and aaahs at the snide remarks and thinks to him/herself that its about time they un-friended you and that they just might actually dislike you enough to say they hate you, out loud, to another friend.

I dislike eating by myself and yet I have done it a whole lot lately. In fact, right now I'm off to find some food that I will hopefully enjoy and not feel sad about the eating alone.


Fast forward several days later and I am happy to report that I didn't eat alone that day, in fact, last night I had dinner by candlelight with a special someone and the fear of falling has left me.


Hands off dammit!
 Some bajaj guy nicked my book. I had a copy of NEMESIS by Isaac Asimov which I've been carrying around and leafing through every spare minute I get. On bajis (pronounced bajiz (which I'm told is (the reading) beyond pretentious)), in the taxi, in any waiting room, in the middle of  a boring conversation, during the 'State of the Nation' address and any spare minute I get. I've taken to reading a lot again, after a stint of a few years during which I could hardly muster much interest in reading anything that didn't tend towards the philosophical and I'm happy to discover that I still enjoy filling every spare moment I can get with words.

Back to the bajaj guy and Asimov. So I get a taxi from Kamwokya to town and I want to stop at a clinic on Bombo road next to City Oil but the taxi takes Nakasero Hill Road, better known as 'ku Public Service' so I get out and decide to take a bajaj or baji from there to my destination. I jump on the first one I see, which is coming down NH road, and tell the guy 'ku City Oil, pronto, pronto' and he turns round faces up and heads off towards Lumumba Avenue. I begin to protest and to tell the guy that it's a much shorter distance if we take the main road but he mumbles something about traffic and keeps going. I tell him to suit himself and I whip out Asimov and catch a few sentences, okay, no, I didn't on this occasion seeing as it was a short distance.

On arriving at my destination, I jump off the bike, hand the guy two coins of 500/= and walk off. He revs after me, agitated, and demands another 500/=. I decline, pointing out that it is an outrageous amount of money for the distance covered and adding that the choice to take a more circuitous route had been entirely his and that I was not going to add him any amount of money. He parks his bike and runs after me, actually he takes a couple of steps to get in front of me and hinder my progress forward. I stop and stare at him, really stare at him and attempt the Jedi mind trick. He looks at me, looks away, at me again, away and refuses to budge. This is becoming a scene and I don't want to bandy words with him so I tell him as politely and firmly as I can possibly manage in broken 'kagi' that he will not be receiving any shilling more from me.

He hands back the two 500/= coins and then demands that I pay him. I've had bajaj and taxi guys try to pull that one on me, the one of trying to guilt or shame you into feeling stingy, less of a 'mugaga', broke, uncultured and many other things all in the name of milking an extra shilling from you. I always say thank you, pocket the gees and stroll off, smiling. So I am thinking this is where we're headed, a few colourful words and then the guy is going to leave me with my 'lukumi' and proclaim to the whole planet how I'm a broke ass. No such luck. He keeps demanding payment of 1500/= and I keep reiterating calmly, while holding out my hand with the two 500/= coins that I will do no such thing.

We stand there for a couple of minutes, me staring at him hoping the Jedi trick will finally kick in and him staring off into the distance saying that we should stop another bajaj guy and ask him how much the standard asking price for our journey is. I counter with a suggestion of asking a pedestrian if they think 1500/= is a fair amount for said journey and so we go silent and stare at each other for another minute, me holding out the two coins, him refusing to take them.

I decide to pocket the coins and flip open Asimov's NEMESIS, thinking to my self triumphantly that I will outlast him. I locate my point on the page; Siever and Eugenia are trying to convince Marlene to get off Erythyro and return to Rotor on account of an unknown plague that afflicts people with minds inclined in a manner such as hers. Marlene will not budge and insists on staying put. I flip the page to continue the argument and the baji guy walks to his bike, fastens his helmet to left handlebar and returns. I close the book and await the next phase of this drama, still calm, still not willing to budge. He walks back, grabs the book and yanks it out of my hands, runs back to his baji and rides off, with my engaging book and zebra bookmark. This takes about fifteen seconds and all this while I'm thinking to myself that I will not be moved to violence in the physical sense.

When he takes the book and jumps on his bike, I think to myself:

Cost of Book: 3000/=
Pages Read: About Half
Net Value of Book to me: 1500/=????
Cost of Bookmark: Priceless! Effin thug!!!

Then I hope that he finds a way to extract his 1500/= from the book or even better, read the damn thing and enjoy it rather than toss it in some bin in a fit of pique.

I stare after him for a few seconds and then continue with my plot, thinking to myself that this inflation is doing things to us, dare I say it's shredding the social fabric or am I just a stingy asshole who can't compromise? Hmmmm.

There is no moral to this story other than that you should find mealtime company, it does wonders for the digestion.


dZyR said...

Kale if you had exchanged the bookmark on Monday...hmmm! So how about those who were after you?

Rhino said...

For those who were after me, I now have an ebook which is not quite the same thing, even if you have a kindle or ipad.