Monday, April 11, 2005

Plane Crazy

I have moved to, and i have also migrated all posts and comments. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE SO CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARLS/BLOGROLLS ACCORDINGLY!!!!

A storm gathers over Port Bell

Much as I spent obscene amounts of time attending meetings and superintending operations, I had an excellent time in Kampala. Uganda is a lovely country and I have the photos to prove it. The hot humidity is irritating, but I'm told you get used to it.

So finally the time to depart came. I've never actually held a million shillings in cash in my life, but after settling my hotel bill I can cross that item from my things-to-do-in-this-lifetime list. I checked out of the hotel, attended my last meeting and was driven to Entebbe.

A few minutes after boarding the plane left me in no doubt that in my previous life I must have been Adolf Hitler or Joseph Goebbels, and my Karma was coming around. I got to the airport later than I'd have liked and got neither a window seat nor an aisle seat.

The gentleman who got the window seat proved to be as unpopular as his first impression suggested. He was a large fellow, bald and sweating, and filled most of his seat and spilled into some of mine. Huffing and puffing he settled down and composed himself for slumber.

Aha! He's going to sleep! I can get some photos of the sky for my nephews and godsons.

M: Excuse me
Shmuck: (Opening one eye) Yes?
M: Would you mind trading seats for a bit? I'd like to take a couple of photos
Schmuck: (Suddenly opening eyes and looking awake) Ah ha ha, actually I was planning on doing some sight seeing myself.
M: Oookay. Then would you mind reclining your seat a bit so I can take a few photos?
Schmuck: Ah ha ha, ordinarily I would but its bad for my back. I hope you understand
M: Right.

Enter a large lady with five or six carry on bags and one paper bug that looks suspiciously like it was full of live chicken. Huffing and puffing she shuffles along looking in the overhead compartments for space. I'm not the least bit surprised when she stuffs everything and lowers her considerably bulk in the seat next to me, filling her own seat and spilling over into mine. I had a good mind to summon a stewardess and get a quarter of my fare back, since it was being used by other people.

She turned to me, treated me to a vision of yellow teeth and left me in no doubt that my flight was not going to be a peaceful one.

Hello! My name is Mukami. Have you flown before? This is my first flight.

That information I digested later. But the most pressing issue at first was her breath. I've never actually had a blowtorch in my face, but I have an idea of what it feels like. I debated internally whether or not to find out if my oxygen mask works but decided that it would cause more problems that it would solve.

M: (Desperately) Oh really? Well, I hope you have a pleasant journey (Settles back in seat and gives every impression of preparing to go to sleep).
W: I've been visiting my big sister in Uganda
M: (Eyes watering from the breath) That's great, just great (Faking a yawn)

At this point that safety movie begun playing, and when it got to the point about mobile phones, Schmuck on my left took it as a cue to pull out his phone and make a series of calls.

Mukami on the other hand is anxious to impart information on her and her family tree to me. I hear more about her son in Spain than I would like to. My reluctance to know what her daughters are doing in Nakuru passes her by completely. My disinterest in her husbands farming does not penetrate her veneer of enthusiasm. All this time I'm suffering from a chronic lack of oxygen. That breath would be a hit if it were bottled and sold as paint remover.

The climax of everything came as we were just over Kisumu and the flight assistant's voice came over the speakers. It is seldom a good thing to hear from the front in the middle of a flight so sharp breaths were drawn. The gist of her statement was:

"Ladies and gentlemen, weather forecasts indicate that there may a bit of rain shortly and some turbulence"

Mukami's torrent of speech died to an ebb.

"Turbulence?" She asked.

No sooner had this left her lips that the plane began to shake quite alarmingly, in a manner to suggest it was only a matter of time before the wings broke off. That plane shook as if it was Mwai Kibaki being shaken by the First Lady for leaving the toilet seat up. Schmuck on my left suddenly developed Chris Murungaru syndrome and begun to sweat copiously.

Then quite suddenly the plane suddenly dropped, as it lost attitude quicker than NARC spends taxpayer's money. It felt like it had drooped 40,000 feet. We were expecting to feel solid earth beneath us in a matter of seconds.

I'd be lying if I didn't say that it was not the kind of thing I would want to experience a second time. Something I suspected to be my heart crashed into the back of my teeth and then dropped back to its usual residence. I felt like Tom and the Coyote do when they run off a cliff then their body falls while their heads hang in mid air for an agonizingly long time before obeying gravity.

Which was nothing compared to my two travel mates. Quicker than Njeru Ndwiga on a tax waiver, twenty fingers dug into my arms (ten on each side). Mukami wailed to her God and Schmuck's vocabulary came forth in a torrent of four letter words.

Saint Peter, as God's official handler of the Heavenly switchboard must have been overwhelmed by the sudden flurry of communication from that flight.

Fortunately that bit of turbulence was the only one, and Mukami had some revelation about the Desiderata, especially the bits about going placidly and the value of silence. Not one word escaped her lips.

The relief when that plane hit the ground -- er touched down -- at JKIA was almost palpable. The ridiculous slow queues at the immigration section of the airport left me in no doubt that I was at home.


Aaron Ringera, Anti-Corruption Chief: It is very difficult to pin documentary evidence on cabinet ministers because they don't sign documents

David Mwiraria, Finance Minister: Yes. I signed the documents.

Seal - Love Divine