You think I am talking about mobile phones again, don’t you? That’s why you are screwing your face up like that. I mean, it’s sexy in a way, granted, but how do you do that? I mean, it’s like your lower lip has gone inside out. I mean, it’s kind of sexy in a way, but I worry when you do that. You’ll hurt yourself.
That’s why I must insist that you understand that this is not about mobile phone. This is about life. Life, okay? I’m philosophising here.
In previous discussions on this topic, I let on that I had a small infatuation with a new model of cellphone which I leeringly called Zuena. However, because that particular model was so expensive I transferred my lust towards a cheaper model, the Baby Zu, which I also gushed obscenely about.
Well, today, on my way from the barber shop (Why thank you. I do look excellent and fly, now that you mention it.) I passed by a shop that had Nokias on display. And there discovered that Baby Zu was available in Uganda at last.
At how much? Let’s back up first.
Zuena is retailing at 800,000 hard-earned Uganda shillings. Baby Zu, according to my friend, The Internet, should cost half that, being essentially a stripped down poor man’s edition of the original. But at this shop the woman told me she was going to sell the Baby Zu at me for 750k.
Just 50k less for a phone that is less than half as awesome as the 800k one.
I spat and directed her to kiss all of my ass and stomped out of there in a violent huff, slamming the fucking door and kicking a nearby kitten in the teeth. What an outrage. But the price isn’t the worst thing.
You see a phone on the internet isn’t the same thing as the phone in real life. The Baby Zu has hot pictures on the web, but that is like those Sara no. I can’t go there.
In real life it is not that impressive. In real life it is a measly, pathetic, scrawny, half-hearted attempt at a phone. It is a sad excuse. It’s ridiculous. It’s like Zuena’s runty cousin.
No, it’s like a late-term abortion of a Zuena, that’s how pathetic it looks in real life.
Mbu 750k. Ntsss.
So, the moral of the story (this is supposed to be a parable about life, not a rant about phones, after all) is… well, really what sort of philosophy teacher gives you the answers?
Meanwhile, it gives me all sorts of pleasure to introduce Caramel. It’s beautiful.
Perfect drivers, such as I recently was, do not know this, but when the law gives you a ticket, you need to pay your fine to URA, via Crane Bank Main Branch, then take the receipt to the police station to indicate that you have cleared your debt to society. At the police station you show them the receipts and then, after you say sorry and promise to never do it again, they clean your slate.
I was highly trepidations about the police station but little did I know how downside-up I had got things.
The police were quick, professional, efficient and helpful, even though I was there in my capacity as a criminal. The bank, however…
Now, I have accounts at three banks. Standard Chartered, Stanbic and Centenary Rural Development Bank, each of which has very comfortable services, which has led me to falsely believe that all banks treat you well, smile, and generally behave the way you are supposed to behave when you are taking a lot of someone’s money away from them.
But this is certainly not the case at Crane Bank.
I stood in the line with my tickets and my money to wait for my turn at the cashier. That is when one of the guards stopped me. “Sir, I notice that you have traffic tickets. You shall need to fill in a bank slip before you get to the cashier,” he said, and I am, of course paraphrasing.
“Where do I get such bank slips?”
The guard pointed me in the right direction, I found the bank slips, picked up two as I always do (in case I make a mistake on one) and returned to the queue, where I met the guard again.
“Sir, not to be nosy, but you haven’t filled in your slip.”
The first question the bank slip asked was who I was paying the money to, and the second question it asked was what this person’s account number was. Surprisingly, I had no idea what the account number of URA was. “I’ll get assistance from the cashier when I get to the counter,” I said to the askari.
He smirked patiently, since such a thing is, apparently possible, and tutted, “She’ll just send you away,” he said. “Here, let me help.”
I did not entirely believe that a cashier would really chase a customer away because he was not an expert in the account numbers of all government departments, but I gave one slip to the askari and, this is true, he filled in the form for me. Fully. Only my signature was missing.
Eventually I made it to the cashier and handed her the tickets, the filled-in bank slip and the cash.
Now, I have friends who have worked as bank cashiers, so I know that it is one very stressful job. You have to endure all manner of idiots, ingrates and impatient louts and take it all in as part of the job. I know not to take tellers and cashiers for granted. I didn’t waste her time. I handed her the things she needed, she took them and I waited for a stamped piece of paper in return, or at least for instructions on where to go next.
Instead she virtually growled that I should stand aside.
“Oh. I’ve got a bitchy one,” I thought, and was justified in thinking so, because from the tone of her voice, she was certainly insulting me in her mind as well.
I stood aside.
Several minutes of just standing there watching her pound wads of money around and shuffle bits of paper up and down, I did what anyone would do. I am not a Crane Bank Cashier, so I cannot just stand around in the lobby doing nothing all day. I walked back to the counter.
I could have said, “What the fuck, are you going to deal with my papers, or not? I don’t have all millennium. What the fuck?”
But I believe in courtesy and civility, that is how I handle myself. So, instead, I said, “Excuse me, you asked me to stand aside and wait several minutes ago, but you haven’t called me to get my receipts. Is something wrong with the documents I gave you?”
She replied in the tone and with the look you would more likely find accompany a witch’s curse the single word: “No.”
I returned to the empty spot of floor I had been warming for the past ten or so minutes now fully aware of the sort of person I was dealing with. No, you don’t argue with people like that. Let me explain.
1. A URA bankslip needs to be filled in. There are two people at the counter. One has training and experience in URA bankslips, and the other does not. How do you get the slip filled in?
a) The person who knows how they should be filled in should send the ignorant person away.
b) The person who knows how they should be filled in should guide the ignorant person
This cashier was not intellectually equipped to answer that question correctly, so I classify her as being of below adequate intelligence. There is nothing to be gained from engaging dumb people in debate.
After another ten minutes, it was beginning to look like I would have to accost this dreadful woman again. I had steeled my nerves and began to step up when another askari stopped me. “Ssebo, is there a problem you need assistance with? I notice you are not in the queue.”
I explained that I had just paid my traffic tickets and the cashier had told me to wait here in purgatory for, apparently, ever.
The askari then pointed across the lobby. “If you have paid, you should be on the other side of the room to wait for your receipt there, sir.”
And surely enough, after I walked just a few steps toward the counter he pointed at, there was a man, holding my receipt asking where Bazanye was.
I could see cashier failing another logic quzzle:
2. A URA fine has been paid, and the receipt requires collection. Do you
a. let the payee just stand in the middle of the bank for several minutes
b. Tell the payee where to get his receipt?
I have no way to understand why she didn’t just tell me instead of making me stand there like that. Did I look like an ex-boyfriend she hated? Was she just a very thick person who just could not figure out how to point at a counter? Was she a Sunday Vision reader who recognized me and didn’t like something I wrote?
Either way, it’s a very very sad commentary on you as a person and as a professional and it says even worse things about the bank you work for if the jobs of the cashiers are being done by the askaris. Your job might suck, but if you suck at it, you suck too.
Crane bank advertises heavily on radio, and there are billboards with Gaetano grinning all over the city. Their slogan is “Growing to serve and serving to grow.”
Our hero is standing at the traffic lights having a chat with a traffic police officer at around eleven on Saturday night.
- Hi Jake, what’s up?
- Jake? Who’s Jake?
- You know. Jake. Like slang for police. It comes from old cowboy westerns. The sheriff was always called Jake. If you don’t know that word, how about, um… Five-O? Po-po? One-Time? (Singing) Bad boys-bad boys whatchoogonnado?
- Enough of this gibberish. You have committed a terrible traffic offence.
- No, I haven’t. I have committed a stupid traffic mistake, granted, but the road was clear, no one was in danger, and it’s the guy in front of me who made me think…
- Enough of that gibberish, too. I’m going to write you a ticket for a 40 thousand shillings.
- Well, I’ve just been at the ATM looking at my bank balance. I’m rich as hell, son. I can pay your ticket.
- And I’ll impound your car until you pay the ticket.
- I wouldn’t like that so here, let me give you a long winding cock-and-bull story about how I am on my way to deliver milk and mineral water to a relative who has just been admitted to hospital. Munange, they just called me half an hour ago. I have to make it there immediately.
- Yeah, like I haven’t heard that one before. That’s what they all say. I’m impounding the car!
- Okay, but you will impound the car for like four seconds, cos I have the money in my back pocket right now. Did I mention my bank balance? It’s gigatintic.
- Oh, you don’t pay here, tonight, on Saturday. You pay at Crane Bank on Monday, and then take the receipt to Central Police Station and THEN you get the car from the impound there.
- Oh, well. I’m still rich. You stopped me right next to a Special Hire Taxi stage. I’ll just use this 40K to jump in a cab and head off on my way.
- I am going to so write you a ticket, it’s going to be a ticket like you’ve never known tickets could be written.
- Why aren’t you writing it then? Why is your hand just hovering over the paper? Why do you keep saying it and not doing it? Are you waiting for me to offer a bribe? Okay, let me cautiously probe your intentions by putting my hands in my pockets and shuffling them around.
- I didn’t tell you to put your hands in your pockets! Harsh Tone!
- I was just checking my phone. I thought I heard it vibrate.
- Okay. That does it. I’m writing this ticket. I won’t impound your car, but I’ll hold onto your Driver’s Permit until you pay up.
- It’s a fair cop. Snigger. I will pay the fine on Monday as agreed. I don’t condone corruption, at least not much, but I would much rather have bribed you. My misjudged action didn’t endanger anyone; it was an honest mistake, not a grievous felony act. Besides there are loads of reckless drivers out there and you traffic cops are our only defense against them and for that you get paid pathetically. I would rather have given the money to you so you can do something for your kids than give this money to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but hey, it’s your call. Let me go deal with the public sector. Later Jake.
This story revolves around a very posh restaurant in Kampala city. I am not going to tell you which restaurant it was because I am sure I can live without all your nuggu.
Okay. That sounded unduly arrogant, and I did not mean to come out sounding as if I am a snobbish prick. I meant that to remain a secret, so let me rephrase: I would not want jealousy to poison our relationship.
I know that’s hardly better, but let’s just proceed.
I was a this restaurant with a group of very important people of high standing in society. I am not saying that to make you more jealous. That sentence got sidetracked. It ought to have moved in a different direction. It should have gone:
I was at this restaurant during a time when I was recovering from a bout of the flu. This is one of the ways in which Hugh Jackman and I are similar. He was capable of healing himself rapidly of deep flesh wounds in the movie Wolverine. I am capable of healing myself of flu in real life.
The following paragraph, by the way, may involve graphic descriptions of bodily fluids, so if you have any young children nearby, please, gather them closer. They will not want to miss this.
There are times when you think your nose has stopped running, but then you find you are wrong. As we sat down to dine in our intellectually stimulating and fashionably enviable way, my nose began to feel damp.
Slowly small rivulets of mucus began to accumulate in the little groves of my nostrils.
Now, I had no handkerchief with me. There are a number of reasons for this. I shall tell you two of them. The first is that I didn’t think I would need one that night. The second is that I am one of those people who NEVER thinks he will need a handkerchief, so he never even owns any.
I therefore had to make a trip to the lavatory. Not to do that! Of course not. I do not do that stuff. Never in my life. Not even once. That’s disgusting.
I went to the lavatory to get some tissue paper and blow my nose there.
I asked the waiting staff the way, they pointed it out and I climbed down the stairs to it.
Now, this place has a very smart lav. It was also very carefully maintained. I noticed that the tip of the tissue paper roll which I was about to tug at was folded neatly into an elegant triangle.
I tugged off a length of TP and hocked thick, slimly gobs of gooey mucus into it.
Oh, sorry, was that too graphic?
After my passages were clean, I returned to my friends and we continued with the astonishingly witty and urbane conversations we usually have.
For some time. Because a while after, soon after the food arrived, my noise was getting moist again. (Look I’m sorry if I’m grossing you out, but I don’t know how I can tell a story about nasal phlegm without being gross, okay? I didn’t go to medical school).
So I needed to return to the gents.
I found another member of the waiting staff to get directions again, because in this restaurant, which I shall not name for purposes, I repeat, of forestalling nuggu, if you don’t get directions each time, you can end up just going around in circles.
I was directed to the gents and there I reached for the TP and found it, once again, folded neatly.
I tore off a bit, blew my nose and returned upstairs.
A little bit later, after yet more scintillating and insightful and character-building banter among my friends, (not to mention the expensive food) I needed to return to the loos again.
I made my rounds back to the gents. And found that, yes, the corner of the TP had been folded into a triangle.
I went back a couple more times, but every time I spun back to that little room, ripped off some TP, I would return and find that it had been carefully folded back into that neat little triangle.
There is a guy in Kampala whose job is to go to toilets and refold the tip of the bogroll every time it is used. Those of you who use it for other purposes more filthy and disgusting and depraved than just blowing your noses (and you know who you are) just know that there is someone whose job it is to come in after you have committed your sick acts. And he folds up the tissue paper.
Museveni says there is no lack of jobs. It is just that people lack the skills for the jobs that are there. You haha.
P.S. If you are interested, I have a couple of updates on Never Man if you feel like dropping by.
I am growing certain that on a deep, dark, cavernously subconscious level, I am sabotaging my own efforts to get to work on time. My first alarm goes off at five thirty am in the morning, and is set to repeat itself every three minutes. The genius behind this was that even if I hit the snooze button a couple of times, the alarm’s persistence will eventually wear me down, or up, and my sleep will be depleted at a point that leaves me sufficient time to get up, out, and off in time.
However, it still happens that almost every day I don’t get out of bed until eight thirty.
That means I hit the snooze button every three minutes for three hours. In the time it takes you to watch two pirated movies, say Hancock as well as Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen. You could start Hancock when Will Smith is drunk on the bench at the bus stop when I am just hearing the alarm go off. Will shall complete the entire story arc of conflict, redemption, narrative twist, big reveal, and final resolution and I will still be exactly where I started.
Then you could put in Transformers, and after that spectacular and thrilling drivel is through punching your brain into blissful submission, I would still be there. Hitting snooze. Saying “Just a few more minutes.”
This makes no sense. No one should snooze for that long. But I do, and I eventually get to work at ten, even though I swear to myself every single day that tomorrow I will be there at eight.
I got in this morning, late again, but still, as always, eager to kick ass and be the finest Baz the media has ever seen. But hardly had two minutes gone by than it happened. And I remembered, I am not averse to my job, but I do not like being in this office.
The object dispayed above, lays ‘n gennermun, is no ordinary Coca Cola. This is a Speke Resort Munyono Coca Cola.
As you would expect, it costs a lot more than mortal cokes do. It costs Two thousand five hundred shillings.
Now, experience has shown the wise among us, those of us who are not too stupid or stubborn to learn, that when it comes down to it, when you break it down, there is really no difference between a coke from that converted container outside your school and a coke at a posh hotel.
It’s like Rihanna vs That Chick From Vogue Magazine on UBC. The difference is not in the essence. The difference is in the ephemera. It’s in the superficial, the surface, the add-ons, the things that surround the essence. But when it boils down to it, Rihanna and TCFVMOUBC are basically the same thing: sources of televised amusement. The only difference is the packaging. Riri is soooo hot and glamorous, banange, but TCFVetc looks like she could sell me tomatoes.
It’s the same with a coke. And if I pay a lot more for a soda, I expect it to be a Rihanna. I expect it to come in a very clean glass, with a wedge of lemon and some ice, on a coaster, and accompanied by a waiter if not waitress who is grinning as if they would sincerely be more than happy to wipe my ass for me should I require it.
I certainly did not expect to pay 2,500 bob for a soda in a plastic tumbler that they scrub with steel wool.
You should know that this was at the poolside at Speke Resort. It costs 20,000 to swim in the Olympic-sized pool on the premises, but the entry charge for non-swimmers is 10,000. So to just sit around and not swim at all costs 10,000.
Why would they charge you to do nothing? It’s not because they are after your money, of course. Sudhir already has plenty of my money by way of the taxes I paid to subsidise his Choggum activities. No. It is evidently to discourage broke muhfuckers like myself from thinking they can just stroll in and buy nothing but a coke and then stroll out as if Speke F. Resort Munyonyo is their kafunda.
I am willing to bet, I am willing to bet a lot of money, that if I was actually a big spender, probably from outside countries (Nigeria inclusive) and I walked into Speke Resort Munyonyo’s pool area dangling Toyota Harrier keys and wearing Ray-Bans, and if I actually swam, then got out of the pool and ordered a Milan steak with my coke, that shit would come in a glass. With a lemon wedge and some ice. On a coaster. And the waiters would offer to wipe my wet ass for me.
I am sure of it.
(The Art Of Storytelling: An object lesson from Mister Michael Bay).
Michael Bay is the very famous director of Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, which is the title of his latest massive blockbuster.
I feel the urge to say “the titles” because somehow that sounds like two: “Transformers” AND “Revenge of The Fallen”. I don’t know why. I’m probably not getting enough of some vital vitamin. Anyway…
TROTF is about motor vehicles from outer space thatconvert into giant robots and fight each other while Megan Fox putters around beneath them attempting to look sexy. I don’t think she succeeded, hardly having been all that to start with.
Megan Fox: She looks like someone who just had their crossed eyes fixed with a hammer blow to the head.
Anyway, the story’s basis is very simple, as is the basis of Megan Fox’s alleged sex appeal. (She is one of those women who believe that all you have to do is bend over in shorts to be hot. Please. My fart.) So much so that I, a long term connoisiuer of Mr Bay’s work, can tell you, frankly, from my expert assessment, there was barely a story there at all.
The lack of plot has led many many many people to wonder, with scorn and contempt unconcealed, too, why the hell this movie ended up being so popular despite not having character development, compelling plot, or even that much acting? The movie was just a bunch of fighting robots. How is that supposed to be enjoyable?
People ask themselves t his question.
As if it isn’t obvious. Let me explain.
That is a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
It’s a very nice thing to look at. I would enjoy watching Chevrolet Corvette Stingrays moving around on a screen.
This is a robot. ( It is called Sideswipe and that is its sword.):
It’s a very nice thing to look at. I would enjoy watching such robots moving around on a screen.
This is violence.
Is it becoming clear yet? You see, an action blockbuster about fighting robots from outer space is really not the time to examine the inner turmoil of a tortured soul, or to present a metaphor of the death of family-centric culture in the 21st Century. It is not even the time for an actor to show a range of or, in fact, any emotion at all. It’s time for the robots to fight.
Michael Bay understands this, so he doesn’t waste our time with a plot. He realizes that we don’t even care if it makes sense, so he took the money that would have been spent filling the many gaping plot holes and used it to make more explosions instead, and for that we thank him. Thank you, Michael.
That is a Chevrolet Corvette Stingray.
Some people look at that and think, “Awesome car.” Some people think, “Awesome car. But where is it coming from? Where is it going? What is its purpose? What is its meaning?”
In short, the aesthetic merits of Transformers are entirely superficial, but they are merits, nevertheless. To whit: It looks good. that’s why we like it. There is a point to this, which I hope I will add when I update this post. It is an important lesson about How To Tell Stories.