What A Day May Bring (Part 2)

Kato

That afternoon his boss called him into his office. William was surprised because after two years of working here it was the first time that he had ever been asked to go into that office. It was turning out to be a good day after all – his boss wanted to give him a raise in pay, not much, but every shilling helped. They were impressed with William, he kept his temper, never shouted back at customers, was very patient, just the kind of person they wanted working there. So after a handshake and a slap on the back, he was back at his phone answering calls. He tried to be as helpful as he could, because he wanted the people at the other end of the line to have as good a day as he was having.

During his short break at four he called his wife and passed along the good news and told her that he would pick up some bananas and a pineapple on his way home, just as a small way to celebrate. He greeted his daughter as well, since she was in P2, she came home from school early in the afternoon, but starting next year she wouldn’t come home until the evening. She made him proud, at the end of the last school year she finished 3rd in her entire class. I am a blessed man, he thought to himself.

 

Wasswa

The old taxi park in the center ofKampalawas by far the craziest and busiest place in the entire city. Kassim waited. There were two more taxis in front of him that had to fill up before he could start collecting passengers. The conductor had run off to use the bathroom so Kassim sat in the semi-hot late afternoon sunshine. People sold everything here in the taxi park. Food, drinks, clothes, radios, car parts, anything you wanted really. A boy selling newspapers came by and Kassim took one to look at, of course he wasn’t going to buy it, he couldn’t even read that well, but at least it gave him something to do while he waited.

He finished and handed the paper back, the first taxi drove off so he started up the engine and drove forward one space.

 

Kato

Finally,six o’clock. He could begin the long ride back home. William cleaned up his little work area, and picked up his bag. He signed out and went outside. Traffic was backed up, but he knew he could get through it pretty quick on his bicycle. He rode downKampala Road, turned right onEntebbe, and made his way through the mess at Clock Tower. The evening was the most beautiful part of the day. The temperature was just right and he rode along at a quick speed, without even sweating. He stopped in Kabalagala and bought a pineapple and some bananas and put them on the basket at the front of his bike. He rode on through Kansanga and down the hill onto a long straight patch of road that led towards Ggaba.

Wasswa

Kassim drove through Kansanga with a full load. He was going to get to Ggaba in a few minutes and then make another four trips before calling it a day. They had just finished working on theGgaba Road– new pavement, no potholes, so he could make good time here after he was through Kansanga. He drove on, increasing his speed, because time is money.

 

Kato

The wind blew around him, refreshing him, this was a great day.

He didn’t see the pothole until it was too late to swerve. The water men had dug up the side of the road to fix a leaking pipe and hadn’t leveled the ground off again. His front tire hit the hole and threw his bike to the right. He couldn’t do anything about it, he was falling. He braced himself for the impact.

 

Wasswa

There was nothing he could do about it. The man on the bicycle fell just in front of him. Kassim hit the brakes, but there was a loud thump as the front left tire hit the man and another as the back one did as well. Kassim quickly pulled off the road, shouted at the passengers to stay in the taxi and ran back towards the man lying in the road.

There was a pool of blood around the man’s still body, he was already dead. The passengers didn’t listen and came and gathered around Kassim and this dead man. Other cars continued on their way paying little attention to what had happened. This sort of thing occurred quite often around here.

They had learned to ignore it.

What A Day May Bring (Part 1)

This is a story I wrote back in 2005 while living in Uganda. Death is a common part of life there and I wanted to write a story that would accurately capture that. It’s kind of long so I broke it up into 2 parts for the blog. This is Part 1.

When you woke up this morning you probably had a lot of things on your mind – what am I going to wear today? I think I should eat lunch at a restaurant or I never eat at restaurants anymore. Do I really have to go to work? Dear heavens, I have nothing at all to do today. Thoughts like that, but honestly, have you ever just woken up and thought – will today be the day that I die? Most likely, you rarely do, if ever. But maybe you should, maybe you should look at the bigger picture and realize that we really don’t have much control over our lives or when they will stop. Which they eventually will do. You can guard yourself from certain things: stay away from the alcohol, stay away from smokers, never fly, but what happens when you can’t control the situation: a drunk driver, bad weather, someone else’s foolishness. Let’s face the truth – death comes to us all, in one way or another. Maybe we should wake up and consider that today may be the last day that we’ll ever see. Would that change the way we think, or live, or act. Because we really don’t know what a day may bring.

Kato

The day was sunny, just like most of the days around here. A deep blue sky and a few scattered white clouds were all the eye could see if one cared to glance upwards.

William Kato certainly didn’t care.

He was late for work and that was all that was on his mind. Work was hard to come by here and losing his job would just be about the worst thing that could happen. He quickly pulled on a pair of brown trousers and buttoned up his white shirt with the red stripes and rolled the sleeves up to his elbows. A cup of tea that was too hot and burnt his tongue, teeth brushed, shoes and socks on, and then a quick good-bye to his wife Joy and his daughterLydiaand he was out the door.

It was a forty-five minute bicycle ride from his place in Ggaba to his workplace in centralKampalaand that was making good time.

The scenery blurred by as William peddled his old bike towards town, he quickly glanced down at his watch, he was making good time, maybe he would actually make it to work on time. Taxis passed by closer than he would have liked but to be fast he had to ride on the pavement and not in the bare soil. Banana trees passed as did the few minutes he had before he would be late and at one minute before seven William Kato pulled up in front of his office sweating and out of breath, but on time.

Of course when running late, or having fun time seems to fly, but when sitting in an office taking calls from annoyed customers the hands on the clock seem like they are moving backwards, but eventually it reached nine-thirty and William was released for a coffee break, or tea, whichever you enjoy more. He had his tea with two spoons of sugar and walked outside.

Kampalawas crazy, like always. People shouting, others were arguing, cars honking at one another because none of them were patient enough to actually wait their turn to go. Music blaring from shops around the corner, beggars on the street corners harassing people for their money and occasionally getting something. Women with blankets spread out on the sidewalk selling sweets, the daily papers, and other trinkets. A few white tourists and aid workers walking about in disarray because they had no idea where they were or how to get to where they were going. The usual.

William enjoyed his fifteen minute break, he always did. The office was too quiet, too controlled, too regular. Getting out on the streets for a few minutes always helped to relax him and put a smile on his face.

But then time was up and it was back to the grind until lunch.

Wasswa

Kassim Wasswa was a taxi driver. A Ugandan taxi driver. A minibus with seats for fourteen, seat belts for five, and usually carried twenty people. He didn’t own the matatu, which they are called here, another wealthier man did. Kassim’s job was to drive it fromKampalato Ggaba and back over and over again, taking as many passengers as possible in the day. The first twenty-five thousand shillings went directly to his boss, anything after that he split between himself and the conductor.

It was a nice day, the sun was shining like usual; he had already made three trips this morning since he started at six. But now it was mid-morning and traffic was heavy as everyone rushed into town for work. Kassim had a full taxi and was stuck in traffic at the Clock Tower roundabout. Bicycles and motorbikes squeezed between the bigger vehicles as they honked and pushed their way towards clearer roads. Pedestrians weaved their way across the road going to different destinations. Kassim was a patient man, he sat in this traffic everyday – twice, once in the morning and then again in the evening. Each day was the same, drive, drive, drive. He needed the money to support the small room he stayed in and to buy his cigarettes. That’s why he put up with this. He smiled, honked his horn, shouted a few choice words out the window and pushed his way a little further into the traffic.

Kato

William checked his watch again, nearly one – lunch time. The morning was dragging on. You wouldn’t believe how many people call to complain about electricity. “My power was off last night until eleven.” “My home hasn’t had electricity for two days now!” William was used to people shouting at him, but he didn’t mind because he couldn’t do anything about it. He wasn’t in charge of the electricity board he only passed along the complaints. So people could say anything they wanted to him, in any language, and it didn’t stick with him. When he went home at night, and was with his wife and child, he was happy and could forget all about work until the next morning.

Lunch. What should he eat for lunch? He checked in his pocket and pulled out two thousand shillings, enough for a small meal that would hold him over until the evening when he would enjoy rice, beans, chapati, and meat with his family. That thought brought a smile to his face as he picked up the phone to listen to another shouting customer.

Wasswa

Kassim shut off the engine of the matatu. He was parked off the side of the road at the turn around point in Ggaba village. It was lunch time so the children were all out of school buying small snacks for their stomachs. He walked down to the market and bought a mango and a small plastic bag full of water. A quick lunch and then on the go again. The more he drove, the more money he made, no time for wasting on eating. He bit into his mango as he walked back up the hill to the taxi. There was already a group of people waiting for him to drive them to town. He shouted for the conductor who came and slid open the side door and the passengers filed in. Kassim went over to the motorbike drivers and greeted them, then went back to the taxi and got in. He finished his mango and threw the seed out the window, then he drank the water from the plastic bag and threw it out the window as well. He knocked on the roof, the conductor shut the door and they were on their way back toKampala.

Survivor

I’m about 10 years behind the times (as I am with most reality shows) but I am hooked on Survivor. I watched this past season, Redemption Island,  that just finished and really enjoyed it but was told multiple times that it was just an “okay” season and that some of the older ones were much better. I listen to Survivor Podcast (www.survivorpodcast.com) and found out that there are old seasons available on  Youtube. They are in 10 minute increments but hey, they’re free. So, I started watching season 16, Fans vs. Favorites and wow, that was a good season. I’m on the last episode so I don’t know who won yet, but the challenges were awesome, the contestants were great, and there were a lot of blindsides and backstabbing, everything that makes good reality television. This is just a short post, but if you’ve never watched Survivor, check it out and I’m sure you’ll get hooked just like I did.

P.S. – The new season of The Bachelorette just started last night and I’m super stoked about that too.

22 must read books

  1. A Walk in the Woods – Bill Bryson (This book will make you laugh out loud as you read it, people will stare)
  2. Dark Star Safari – Paul Theroux
  3. Acts of Faith – Philip Caputo (An amazing novel about NGO workers in Sudan)
  4. Harry Potter Series – J.K. Rowling (Need I say more?)
  5. The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins (Reading this right now, on the 2nd book, can’t put it down)
  6. The Ragamuffin Gospel – Brennan Manning
  7. An Arrow Pointing to Heaven – James Bryan Smith (A biography about the life of Rich Mullins)
  8. Land of a Thousand Hills – Rosamond Halsey Carr (She lived in Rwanda for 40 plus years and I had tea with her in her home by Lake Kivu)
  9. Shake Hands with the Devil – Romeo Dallaire (Written by the head of the UN forces in Rwanda during the genocide)
  10. We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow we will be killed with our families – Philip Gourevitch
  11. In a Sunburned Country – Bill Bryson
  12. Hotel New Hampshire – John Irving (Probably my favorite novel that I’ve ever read)
  13. The World According to Garp – John Irving
  14. It – Stephen King (This book will scare you)
  15. For Whom the Bell Tolls – Ernest Hemingway (I went through a Hemingway phase, loved all his books, but this one made the list)
  16. On the Road – Jack Kerouac (For many years I wanted to be Sal Paradise)
  17. The Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman (Graphic novel series, not finished yet so new comics are still coming out)
  18. Through Painted Deserts – Donald Miller (Better than Blue Like Jazz)
  19. The Belgariad and The Mallorean Series – David Eddings
  20. Church History in Plain Language – Bruce Shelley
  21. What is the What – Dave Eggers (You gotta read this one)
  22. Watchmen – Alan Moore

The Hunger Games: A Review

If you haven’t read The Hunger Games, you should stop reading this post and go read the book. Seriously, you all need to read this book. It’s that good.

If you’re still here you’ve either read The Hunger Games or you’ve totally ignored me and continued to read this which means you may be spoiled. Or you may not, we’ll have to see. The Hunger Games is the first book in a trilogy by Suzanne Collins, it is followed by Catching Fire and Mockingjay. I’m currently reading Catching Fire.

If you know nothing about the books, the following synopsis may sound weird but trust me, you can’t put this book down. The book is set at some point in the future in the United States, but the world has changed. The USA is now known as Panem and the country is ruled by the Capitol and has been broken up into 13 districts. At some point in the past the districts rebelled against the Capitol and were crushed and District 13 was totally destroyed. In order to continue to show their power and control every year each district has to send 1 boy and 1 girl who are randomly drawn out of a hat (so to speak) to the Capitol to compete in the Hunger Games. The contestants are put into an arena, which varies from year to year from deserts to forests to swamps and they must fight to the death until only one remains. Everything is broadcast live around the country so everyone is watching to see who survives. The winner goes back home to their district and lives a life of ease and their district gets rewards for the next year.

This book follows the two contestants, Katniss and Peeta, from District 12 as they are chosen, go to the Capitol, and compete in the games. The build-up to the actual games is a good read, but once the Hunger Games start, I could not put the book down. I’ll leave it at that as far as the story goes so no one is spoiled. Yes, it is considered a “young adult” book and my wife likes to make fun of me for enjoying this genre, but hey, Harry Potter is amazing!

As they do with most things these days, the Hunger Games trilogy is being made into a movie and they are currently casting the main characters. So, if you choose not to take my advice and read this book at least watch the movie when it comes out.

If you’ve read The Hunger Games let me know what you think and if you read it in the near future let me know as well. I’d like to be able to have some discussions about it.

I’ll write up another review when I finish Catching Fire and rate it as well, but as far as The Hunger Games go, no question, no brainer, it easily gets a 5 out of 5 rating in my opinion.

My dog broke my iPhone

This morning I was lying in bed having just woken up after my alarm clock went off when my dogs came in to say good morning. Henry, our biggest Basset Hound loves to say hello by licking my face so as he came bounding towards me I prepared for some slobbery doggy kisses. He jumped up onto my chest and knocked my iPhone off the bed and onto the ground which wasn’t a big deal because he does this pretty much everyday. I pushed him away from my face so I could breathe and also so I could try to escape before the rest of the dogs got there.

Henry decided that he had had enough pets and was done saying good morning and jumped off the bed just like he usually does, but this time he landed right on my phone and as I watched helplessly the glass screen broke. He didn’t even notice what he did and ran off to play. I picked up the phone and made sure the screen still came on and that everything worked, which it did, but the top part of the screen now has spiderweb cracks.

I just had to laugh. My dogs are awesome, they are hilarious and now they gave me an idea for a blog post. I like my iPhone, but it’s just a thing, not that important in the grand scheme of things (and I’m due for an upgrade in a little over a month) and my dogs are much more important than a phone could ever be.

This is Henry looking like an angel before he broke the phone.

The broken iPhone screen.

Jericho

I just finished the television series “Jericho” this morning and I have to say I loved it. I remember hearing about it when it was actually on a few years ago but I didn’t start watching it until recently.

It’s the story of the small town of Jericho, Kansas and how the town survives after nuclear attacks on major cities around the United States. I won’t go into much detail about the show so if you haven’t seen it you don’t get spoiled. The acting is pretty decent, the story line is good, and there are only a few moments of lameness. The second season isn’t as good as the first, it seems like it had to be put together fairly quickly, but it’s still entertaining.

The problem with Jericho is that it didn’t last very long. After one season it was cancelled. Thankfully the fans rallied around the show and convinced the network to bring it back. A few episodes into the second season it was cancelled again. I read they filmed two endings for the show: one if it was cancelled, one if it wasn’t, and unfortunately the end came. I honestly don’t know how shows like “Two and a Half Men” and other crap can stay on TV when good shows like this don’t make it.

There have been rumors (as there are with most shows cancelled prematurely) of a movie but also of a comic book series that would continue the storyline. We’ll see what happens. The entire series is available on Netflix via Instant Streaming so you can watch every episode there. I totally recommend this show and would love to hear from people who have already seen it or from people who decide to watch it.

Long live the Allied State of America! (just kidding)