Monday 19 July 2010

Exam Success

Little Mussa has done well in his exams in Paje. When I first met him a couple of years ago he was chain smoking. Being an old fart I scolded him and said I would tell his father. He replied that he didn't have a father.

From then on he became known by the nickname "Sigara Mtoto" (cigarette boy) and has shown himself to be a hard worker -- in school and out. Like all of life's survivors he knows how to tag onto groups and make himself useful. He helps out in the kitchen when I am in Zanzibar. At the bottom of the pecking order with all the maestro chefs, he's the one that gets sent into the village on errands or up the palm tree for coconuts. Where he really comes into his own is in eating. He appears to eat his bodyweight in rice at each sitting and always manages more meat and vegetables than grown men several times his size. Because he's still quite small for his age I give him extra protein on top, so he'll often polish off his feast with eggs and peanut butter. Now at the age of eighteen he is beginning his growth spurt and going up, as they say locally, "like a coconut palm ".

He tells me that he wants to go to catering college next. Cheffing is a good transferable skill which will give him a better chance of an income than many other things. I still harbour a hope that he does a bit more at school, maybe even giving secondary a try.

In the meantime he loves dancing to Zanzbar's very own Freddy Mercury and watching Little Britain and Eddie Murphy's Nutty Professor on DVDs.

Sunday 18 July 2010

Mandy reveals all...

I am enjoying the Mandy Memoirs, perhaps not for the right reasons. It reads rather camply as Uncle Pierre clutches us to his bosom and opens his carefullty airbrushed heart. As you progress the whiff of North Korea becomes stronger. Dear Peter's controlling hand is as omnipresent as any Pyonyang Kim -- from running his Hampstead Garden Suburb primary school to the Labour Party. He hasn't written any operas, performed open heart surgery or designed a hydro-electric dam yet but these are early days. I am only a third through.

Monday 12 July 2010

World Cup Finale

My friend Massimo sends me a dispatch from Barcelona (where he is one of the city's finest cocktail mixers). The world cup celebrations have been going on all night and still they party. The Spanish -- and Catalans in particular -- do undertand the science of joy. Massimo and colleagues (any excuse) have created and mixed the “Iniesta Surprise” and “Fabregas Fireball” as tribute.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

Half a year ago

Six months ago tomorrow -- early in the morning -- I was wheezing my way up the final 1000 metres of Kilimanjaro. It seems like yesterday. Watching dawn rise from the rim of the volcanic crater wth just an hour or two to go to the summit was a fantastic experience. It was cold but the exercise and layers of clothes meant it didn't feel it, unless you kept your hands out too long or tried to touch your frozen water bottle.

The great thing about that last 24 hours of ascent was the focus. All consciousness was honed to a) worrying about own body b) worrying about companions c) thinking about mountain. Nothing else mattered. Even meeting some bundesgloaters coming down from the summit as we were on the final approach washed over me.

Schadenfreud II

I should really shut up about this -- it's certainly not a feeling with much currency in England just now. But my friend Paul came up with a new word, its exact opposite, to describe how the Germans are at the moment. Bundesgloating. I love it.