Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hotel Embarasse

I have moved to, and i have also migrated all posts and comments. YOU SHOULD NOT BE HERE SO CHANGE YOUR BOOKMARLS/BLOGROLLS ACCORDINGLY!!!!
Been shockingly busy -- my sojourn at Uganda is coming to an unwelcome end, so any silences are entirely inadvertent. However it has not stopped me from having interesting experiences.

The other day I was at the hotel restaurant making short work of a fish that not half an hour ago had been merrily swimming in Lake Victoria. That I was concentrating all my faculties on this noble effort was apparent. Rolled up sleeves, discarded fork and knife and wide berth given to me by other guests. I don't see why I should have to wrestle with a fork and knife to eat a fish. It ranks in the same category as eating soup with chopsticks and eating chocolate with a straw.

Anyway, halfway into the fish I hear this:

"M, you don't eat well!"

It was touch and go there between bursting into laughter and swallowing first before prudence prevailed. This is because this concern was not coming from my dear mother, who still doesn't think I eat well. Nor was it coming from an applicant for the post of Mrs M. It was in fact from Shirley, the hotel housekeeper.

It was then that any doubts that I had about being at the hotel for too long were laid to rest. I quickly run through a check list
  • I'm on first name terms with the housekeeper and some of her staff
  • I have actually had a meal with some of the hotel staff
  • They prepare my breakfast in the ridiculously quirky way I like it (fried eggs with no yolk, ensemble of fruit, etc)
  • I no longer bother to leave the room when it is being cleaned
  • I'm on first name terms with the alternate barmen, Alex and Patrick, firm allies in the war on thirst
In fact on that room cleaning note I remember the last hotel I was in had a particularly fierce looking housekeeper, and I happened to meet her at the door as I rushed out. She took one look at the room and actually wiggled her nose, leaving me in little doubt what she thought of its state. Those matronly eyes and that forbidding look forced me to subsequently clean the room before she came by later to do it!

Anyway, Shirley, the current housekeeper is a whole different kettle of fish. For starters, unlike her predecessors, she is taller than she is broad. She is also not 7 feet tall, and is closer to 5'7. Nor does she grind her teeth as she talks. Her arms are not thicker than most people's waists. In fact, the truth be told, Shirley is what the discerning types would say is worth looking at a second time. And a third.

Another long staying guest at the hotel is a gent from Mauritius. He is shorter than he'd like to be, and his habitual expression is a look of puzzlement. Another is en extremely well constructed Ugandan engineer. This good lady prefers V cut tops with a good deal of V.

Shirley tells me the three of us are referred to as the African Union, the AU.

About two weeks back there was a knock on the door at about 7 in the evening. Shirley has the type of smile that makes you not actually start listening to what she is saying until about 5 seconds later. She had mislaid a room key and would she mind if I looked around?

Not at all, I told her.

She came in, looked, found nothing and departed. However as I let her out my Mauritian friend was just leaving his room.

I have it from reliable sources that the gears in his head were heard clearly across the corridor as they spun wildly and he drew a single conclusion -- Shirley was smoothing a lot more than my sheets and interpreting personal attention and hospitality a bit too liberally.

I can now sympathize still more with people who find themselves saying this sentence

"It's not what it looks like!"


It's pretty hard to top Ms K or Superflyshi, but reading those reminded me of an incident where if there was an option to disappear off the face of the earth I'd have taken it with energy.

Some time ago I was attending a conference, and a shuttle bus was kindly availed to transport us to the conference centre. So I enter the coach and make my way to the back of the almost filled bus. Sit down at the seat precisely in the middle. A second later a daughter of her father, remarkably easy on the eye also made an entry. Years of discipline and the unwritten male code dictate that you are allowed 3 seconds to look before you cross the border into staring. Anything after 6 seconds is ogling. So I didn't ogle and I didn't stare and after 3 seconds lowered my eyes to my newspaper. She continued to make her way to the seat directly in front of me to my right (I was in the exact middle of the back bench)

Now a habit of mine is crossing my legs when reading. And as fate would have it, with me unwisely looking down at the paper, I subconsciously swung my right leg over my left and in the process smartly kicked her in the bottom as she was lowering herself into the seat.

I looked up sharply, two and two were added and turned out to be four. She looked back unsure of what to think and I looked forward unsure of what to think.

I like to think that I generally land on my feet in terms of crises but at that time the part of the brain dedicated to that job was on a go slow to protest overwork. So I find myself wondering whether to be:
  1. Mortified
  2. Embarrassed
  3. Jocular
  4. Suicidal
  5. Horrified
  6. Amused
  7. Any combination thereof
She in turn had a totally blank look on her face. Matters were not helped by the fact that the entire thing has been witnessed by people who were having no problems in deciding how to react.

On that day I believe I performed enough to register that trademark Profuse Apology™. Anyone willing to describe their apologies as profuse must see me first.

It was only a half hour ride but it was certainly the longest I have ever taken.

New Kids On The Blog

Am falling a tad behind but here we go!

Never have I ever been so ashamed to be a Kenyan. 90 people are massacred as MPs are stuffing their greedy bellies with chicken and samosas in coast as they completely change the constitution draft to suit themselves. The President could not even be bothered to go and console the families of the victims. And now we are being tear gassed for expressing our views?

And as for this guy James Muiruri who thinks MPs (including his MP parent) are the salt of the earth, my friend I will not change a single word of what I wrote about Kenyan MPs. Despite clever shadow boxing around the issue he completely failed to exonerate Kenyan MPs from the morass they have placed themselves. There is nothing abstract or vague about what I said.

As a matter of fact, expect another one real soon.

Between powdered water, a chocolate teapot and a Kenyan MP the latter is head and shoulders above the rest.

Sting - Roxanne