ጋቢ ስካርፍ

I thought it overkill when I saw it being worn in the አዲስ አበባ ክረምት by a repatriated diaspora. መጋረጃ ይመስላል እኮ!  She promised me that they would come in very handy come December this side of the world. I heeded her advice.

You can get yours at Geni Artisanal Products, ባምቢስ ድልድዩ ጋ ምንትዋብ ህንጻ ላይ::



No payments were received for this endorsement. I don’t even know if Geni stands for ገነት  the person or ገነት the place. Then again, it probably is the person. I have never heard anyone say ገኒ መግባት እፈልጋለሁ::


When I came here, I was under the illusion that I would find the classes easy given my years of experience teaching the subject. It even crossed my mind, coming clean to the professors about my unfair advantage. I didn’t want them to be hard on the other students when grading them:  እሰቅላችዋለሁ ብዬ ሰግቼ ነበር::

My fear was quickly allayed by one of the courses. Man, I couldn’t do a single question on the worksheet. And that, even after the professor provided us with the answers! I asked him to give me tips on how to deal because I have found his subject to be quite difficult. Our meeting was reminiscent of the ones I used to have with those students of mine who were in similar situations: you can’t trust the meetings to solve all the problems. The other subject, on the other hand, is a bit easier but overall, it is like undergraduate freshman year all over again.

It is a great relief when weekends arrive not only because they are temporary respite after grueling weekdays but also because they are a great chance to catch up on one’s studies. Wait, did I say that right? I had great hopes for this weekend with regards to the upcoming test. Then what do I do?  I go and spend the greater part of it cleaning the stove and the kitchen floor, doing the laundry, washing the trash can, ቁሌትና ሚጥሚጣ ወደ ጥሩ ዕቃ ስገለብጥ, forcing a friend to continue with our conversation over the phone despite its being የኢትዮጵያ ከሌሊቱ ፯ ሰዓት, ስራ ሳላጣ የተቀደደ ሹራብና ሱሬ ስሰፋ (you should have seen me at the store, looking for the place where they sold the sewing materials, looking over my shoulder to see if people were watching and making fun of me, wagering on my sexual orientation. The pants are brand new.  They carried me over a sea and an ocean, and then the seams decided to give way around the balls area. My guess is that my balls were expanding in response to the different time zone. Then again, my move was one of the most ball retracting things to have happened to me. Go figure. Anyway, I need not have worried about mending my clothes, after seeing a professor wearing a sweater with a gaping hole on the elbow like it  literally was nobody’s business), trying to reach page 100 of Lawrence in Arabia: War, Deceit, Imperial Folly and the Making of the Modern Middle East, checking on Manchester United’s result and being disappointed, wondering why my roommate has to yawn from day break to evening, almost cleaning my bathroom, writing this blog post… In short, doing everything else except the one thing I was supposed to be doing. I was sabotaging myself.

መቼም የሽማግሌ አምላክ ይርዳኝ እንጂ በስተርጅና ትምህርት ይከብዳል::

The happenings of this weekend inspired me ይህችን ስንኝ እንድቁዋጥር

ለነገ ያልኩትን

ነገ ሰማና

ልጆቹን ሰብስቦ ሳቀ

ሳቃቸው ኧረ ልቾ! ሳቃችው

እስከ ዝንት ዓለም ተሰማ::

አሁን ይሄ ያስቃል

የስጋ ለባሽ ድክመት?!

Almost a rip-off of the “if you want God to laugh…” line but you gotta love the effort.

I hope it has not gone unnoticed that አማርኛ figuring more prominently in my recent posts. Well, get over it because I also wore a traditional shirt ለእንቁጣጣሽ, ሃገሬ አድርጌ የማላውቀውን:: I also set off the fire alarm while cooking; a great start to the new year. It is going to be fiya!

Finally got to eat the famous salmon. Tastes good plus unlike tilapia, it does not fall apart in the frying pan. It is a fish of tremendous character. Swimming upstream against all odds, finding the exact spot where it was born, spawning and then, dying.


On the 4, Getting Ahead like a Grandfather, ወዘተ

Tears can be cathartic. I have always wanted to use that word in a blog post. Someone whom I cannot live without sent me this video at one of my lowest points. It has been the mainstay of my mornings:

I hate Frankfurt Airport, and Yahoo Mail! After spending a lonely, ደባሪ night on one of the benches in my designated boarding gate (if I hear one more “…flight number…Lufthansa, Star Alliance” I am going to scream), I could have missed my flight in the morning because they changed the gate. Fortunately for me, the new gate was close to the former one. But a South East Asian family and an elderly ሀበሻ couple who were no doubt on their way to another city in the US to visit their child/ren missed their flights for the same reason. We rushed to the new gate as soon as we found out but it was too late. I wonder if they had to spend another night at the airport.

Only a seasoned traveler would be wise enough to check if gates had been changed. Knowing where and how to check is another thing.

My yahoo account has been locked ever since I tried to login from one of the computers in the cursed airport (not even getting to see one of the Fanhansa planes could make up for the shitty time I had there.) Suspicious sons of bitches! Ok, some of the blame I take. I mean, the kinds of secret questions I choose, man!  “Where did you meet your spouse?” “Where did you spend your honeymoon?” ያሁ ከሰው አቆራረጠኝ!

It is amazing, the number of decent flags that you see flying here, even on the porches of many houses. Days are longer but towards the end, the sun looks like someone from below had thrown it onto the sky, and it made impact with a splat!

Attention to detail: I have seen on packaging instructions on how to eat mango right; the chair I am sitting on has got butt grooves:


Outsourcing: the couple of guys who stepped out of the congregation and made their way to the altar to help the priest when it was time for the Eucharist –what do they think they are doing?! Where I come from, only priests are supposed to give out Holy Communion.

Leave them to their devices: it seems like everybody would rather be someplace else. I fear they would not give me their time of day were I inclined to start a conversation.


Conversations: every opportunity I get, I talk about Ethiopia. ኢትዮጵያ ግን  እንዲህ ነው!  ኢትዮጵያም እኮ እንዲህ ነው!  … Who made me የባህል አምባሳደር? They just want to know how my name is pronounced. They don’t even bother to ask what it means.

ኢትዮጵያ: My watch is still on Ethiopian time; I couldn’t bring myself to change it. I reminisce while checking the weather widget on my device. አዲስ አበባ — grey and white, thunder. I teeter on the brink of getting my Kuntakinte on: how could they still see the moon but not me? But I was not brought on a slave ship like him. Everybody keeps telling me that I am very lucky. (Even dude at Hartsfield-Jackson “welcomed me back!” If you say so, my nigga!) Guess feelings do not always mirror luck.

Why do we prefer living in houses built by others instead of building our own house like ቶክቻው?


As soon as the plant becomes of reasonable height, why does it start to look yonder?  You had been lucky even back home, is this surrender? You know there is no glory in that. Why does it require that we board an airplane for us to have perspective of what’s most important, to have a bird’s eye view as it were?

ፀጋዬ also kind of said:

በመለኮቱ የቀባንን

ችግራችንን ተጫወትንበት

My shit literally pales in comparison with the shit of bygone days. Guess when I became open to the scavenger lifestyle like a hyena, the pallor came naturally.

Sorry for bringing scatology into proceedings that are as heavy as the eschatological. But I couldn’t resist making a point; I couldn’t resist not censoring myself.

While we are on the topic, እንዳለጌታ ከበደ – ማዕቀብ has an anecdote on what a writer faced when he submitted his translated version of Julius Cesar for censorship.

… “ጁሊየስ ቄሣርን የሚያህል ግዙፍ ንጉሥ እንዴት በባለሟሎቹ ምክርና ሴራ በጩቤ ተወግቶ ይሞታል?” ጥያቄ አመጡ::

“ለሕዝብ እንዲቀርብ ከተፈለገ ጁሊየስ ቄሣር በአሽከሩ ተወግቶ እንዲሞት በማድረግ ፈንታ ንጉሡ አሽከሮቹን ተራ በተራ እየወጋ  እንዲገድል ቢደረግ የ ሳንሱርን ድልድይ ይሻገራል” አሉት:: ….

I read a new collection of short stories in Amharic. Out of the 13 stories contained in 187 pages, 9 dealt directly with the death of humans. In the 10th story a rhinoceros, a leopard and a lion get to die. Among the gruesome ways of dying included: being hit with የፖሊስ ዱላ, ዘነዘና, መዶሻ; የአረም መድሃኒት መጠጣት; ስጋ አንቆት መሞት:: The last one even has an old person regaling mourners at the house of a deceased (of a car accident) with stories of deaths that had shocked him the most in his lifetime.

I mean guys, come on! Why all this fascination with death?

Food: Cooking is never easy. አንዴ ጥብስ ለመስራት ፈልጌ ሽሮ ያለበት ቅቅል መሳይ ነገር ሰርቻለሁ: በልቻለሁም::  Although this took place only last week, I can barely remember how I pulled that off. Still there are some positives. A good morning could be synonymous with simply managing not to burn your scrambled eggs. That’s until your day is broken when you have to cook two different batches of rice and each one of them comes out looking like ቅንጬ:: Your only consolation –it’s good practice for the lab; you ought to be perfecting your protocols. ሽሮ ማረጉን አጣ! በማንኪያ ተጠጣ:: All of the times our mothers were telling us ወጡን እንዳንጠጣ, እንጀራ ከየት ይምጣ? Naan and tortilla are  convenient ለማጥቀስ but not ለመጠቅለል. So take a bite and then sip. ዶሮ ማረጉን አጣ! Chicken used to be reserved for holidays. But instead of ሰታቴ it now inhabits the quotidian Ziploc in my backpack. Another positive: at least now I seem to have solved the age old question. Of course the egg comes first. It comes in the morning.

Meanwhile on the other side of town, while I am striving በምግብ ራሴን ለመቻል…

I am at a bus stop on my way back to my apartment from Walmart. My days of getting lost around the city and the campus are not yet behind me. I have got a very poor sense of direction.  I get lost with a map in hand and even when assisted by the phone’s navigator. The buses here, they have got names likes the “orange circulator.” It would not be a misnomer if somebody called me the black circulator because, several times I have had to return to the place I started from without reaching my destination. The black part, well, there are other black students here. But I cannot help but feel singularly black and conspicuous. On top of that you know that I have got some distinct physical features.

Anywho, at the bus stop I approach a Chinese girl. She is very helpful. Consults the map for me. And later, she even helps carry some of my stuff onto the bus. How else would one kill the time while waiting for the bus? We converse. I tell her where I am from. I bet her that she knows little about my country. She says she knows some about the food we eat. Since she could not pronounce it, she opts to type it on her phone and show me. I expect to read እንጀራ and to be amazed that she knows about it. I read “tropical.” She goes on to ask if we had a lot of bananas! To this day I am confused as to whether her statements had a racial undertone. And the messed up part is that I really like bananas. Nothing beats ሙዝ በቅንጬ for breakfast. I tried to speak about እንጀራ but she kept asking about fruits. I told her that we had mad fruits like like oranges, papaya, mango, … That we were not just one-fruit-monkeys.

The professor at the departmental orientation drew the following to represent the five years that we are likely to spend at the school:


Then he went ahead to break the arrow down into the different years.I must admit that it’s the biggest fucking arrow that I have ever seen in my life; it took the entire length of the blackboard. The options are clear. One is to put my life on hold, put all the other meaningful things I should be doing with my life beyond the arrowhead.  Or I could start living, find me a ride-or-die-walk-with-her-man-on-the-arrow-and-beyond-chick. So, interested parties are asked, nay begged, to please come forward. You might ask, “how will I know (like Whitney) if you are the one for me?” My answer to you, dear soul, is that you don’t. በፍጹም ኢትዮጵያዊነት ወኔ  መግባት ነው:: Of course if you ask other people they might tell you that when it is the real thing both of you would feel real helpless until there is no remedy other than to fall into each other ምናምን ምናምን

Let the record show that I have got nothing against falling into each other. In fact, I was musing over how long I have been away from the human touch. Rarely do I get even to shake hands here. Somebody was telling us that feeling the earth with one’s hands was an effective way of dealing with depression.  It would show one how miniscule one’s trials and tribulations are when seen in the light of the grand scheme of things –there are bigger things. One thing the earth and humans have in common is that they are both made from dust.

The end of the arrow should see me back in ኢትዮጵያ. I want to return before it is too late. Before I go into church for the last time, the same way I came in for the first –carried by people. I want to live a useful life, both for myself and for ኢትዮጵያ cuz I kinda love her. I hope she feels the same way about me. I hope the tiny flag keeps on flying in my heart. አንች ትብሽ አንተ ትብስ ተባብለን ለመኖር ያብቃን! In case ኢትዮጵያ is unable to supply me with enough dough via the knowledge business, I intend to marry a rich woman. Said rich woman would not have to worry about anything: I will cook. I will clean. I will fuck. All the requisites. I wish I could be a seahorse so that she would be spared the inconveniences of childbearing and stays pretty.

But I know talk is cheap (talk is cheap would make a great tagline for a mobile services provider) and that I have to walk the talk. People are skeptical when I tell them of my plans to return: “That’s what they all say”, “እስቲ እናያለን”, “Only time will tell.” My answer, should time try to speak, I will smack it in the mouth. And if it so transpires that I was full of shit, and they try to point that out, I will smack them in the mouth.  ኢትዮጵያ ሆይ ብረሳሽ ቀኝ ትርሳኝ! Even if you are better off without me that is 😀


I pray to God that I would still seek him when I finally take flight the same way I sought him all those times when it felt like both my body and spirit were stuck in mud. Let my flight not be only the kind that takes its impetus from a hot bath and coffee in the morning; like a boxer who is pushed back into the ring when he is at the last of his energy reserves; like the throngs that go out each morning to make copies of their lives. I needs my spirit to soar. I don’t want to be weighed down by fear. The good book says that  fear has to do with punishment. I needs repentance.

The number 4 is the bus that serves our locality.

Some people in Ethiopia are replacing their grandfathers’ names with their mothers’. But grandfathers could be sneaky. Come here and I find out that my grandfather must take my father’s place. And I have never met the guy. Ethiopian Immigration set me up.


መልካም አዲስ ዓመት!

On Separation and Fluid Homeostasis

እንዴት ብዬ እንደምጀምር አላውቅም:: ቃላት ያጥሩኛል::

It all started with the visit to the embassy. The things that caught my attention were the lush greens outside the premises and the huge flag that could be seen እየተገማሸረ across the perimeter. Man! Why don’t our office buildings have flags that are as big? The flag we had at my institution was a sorry affair that was “put down” because it was hanging on for dear life, and when I saw it last, it was just a naked pole standing there.

Come to think of it, it didn’t all start with the visit to the embassy. It was preordained from the beginning of time that I should be feeling this way at this point in my life.

I want to take from my feelome (you feel-o-me? You know, a la genome, transcriptome, proteome, etc – the whole range of feelings that a person is experiencing at a given point in time) those feelings that define the me of recent weeks. And of course, there would be cameos from the impure thoughts of mine because, need I remind you that the feeling horny always stays in the background of a man’s feelings, like an engine idling, ready to come forth when bidden by “the stimuli?”

Separation ain’t nothing new.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings (1 Peter 5:  6-10)  Still, the fact that millions of people have experienced and are experiencing it every second all over the world does not make my case any less special. Here go an account of some of the events surrounding my ending up in a city the name of which is a mutant of the Amharic name for female parts. You have got to be in it to win it, right?

I used to think that my English was ok. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think it was. Well, tell that to all the people here which are having trouble hearing and understanding me.  Maybe it is just that I am soft spoken and they want me to speak louder. In that case, why don’t they listen quieter? Or maybe it is the accent. I have been told that it happens to everyone when they come here and to be patient. In the meantime, since they don’t “understand the words that are coming out of my fucking mouth”, what if I tried an experiment? What if I sidled up to a random chick on the streets and went, not like Tupac “I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but your body is bangin’ , got me attracted in a strong way” but like Ariel Spears “Excuse me baby. I don’t want to bother you but you got a fat ass I’d like to take you home and fuck the shit out of you.”  Here comes the slap, the pepper spray, the Taser or a combination.  I would be standing there befucked, bothered and bewildered — ይሄ ይሄ ሲሆንማ ይገባሻል!

She does not even let me get to the part where I state that I may speak soft but carry a big stick.

Please bear with me because there is going to be a lot of name dropping and allusions to famous people in this post. It is almost like I was The Game.

In one of the taxis on the way to the embassy, out of all songs, I shit you not, ትዝ ትዝ አለኝ ጎራው ትዝ ትዝ አለኝ …. የናት ቤት ውለታ ያገሬ ትዝታ… ማን እንደናት ማን እንዳገር… starts playing on the radio. Last time I heard the song must have been back when ፀሀይ was still ፀሀዬ. Why now? I mean, if they wanted to play one of his songs, then why not አንድ ሁለት ሶስት አራት እስቲ ቁጥር ጥሩ…?  የምን ሆድ ማባባት ነው?  ሊያስለቅሰኝ ነው ይሄ ሰላቢ!

Now I am in another car. The family is returning from a trip. Thoughts run through my head of how I would kill for anyone of the people in the vehicle; my perfect-with-all-its-imperfections family.




One of the babies on board starts crying አውደኝ! አውደኝ! for አውርደኝ! ሂሳቡን መልስለትና አውርደው!  –I was feeling very clever and funny when I gave that reply to the baby’s request. The way one feels at the very first stages of being drunk, along with the great care that is taken to make sure that one’s voice does not get too loud.  In my defense, goodbyes were looming and I had a bottle of (Ethiopian) chardonnay to finish in a very short amount of time. The person that was supposed to help me was dilly dallying with their first and only glass. I don’t hit the bottle that much but when I drink, I drink responsibly. I am responsible for this bottle.  I have got to get to the bottom of this bottle, like I was up for an  X-Prize. I am the captain of my bottle, the master of my intoxication.

I gave it my best. What remained of the wine, I decided to have the bottle sealed with tape and autographed by the whole family to bring it with me in my travels. I would finish it when five years have elapsed and, I am done with my studies and move back home.  Another instance of the bright ideas sparked by ethanol in one’s system. It is now sitting behind me:


Don’t get it twisted though; I don’t worship at this altar.

It was also on that day two months ago that this post started to take form in my head. I am having double visions of cars in front of us just like the way receipts are made: ቀዩ ኮፒ ለሂሳብ ክፍል : ነጩ ኮፒ ለከፋይ… Some Omar Khayyam would have complemented the talk of wine. But here is a poem that tugs at my heartstrings from his fellow countryman:


Union is like this:

You feel cold

So I reach for a blanket to cover

Our shivering feet.

A hunger comes into your body

So I run to my garden

And start digging potatoes.

You ask for a few words of comfort and guidance,

I quickly kneel at your side offering you

This whole book-

As a gift.

You ache with loneliness one night

So much you weep

And I say,

Here’s a rope,

Tie it around me,


Will be your companion

For life.

ሀገሬን አልረሳም-ነዋይ  was playing on the radio. I fight back tears.

I have been drinking and crying ever since.  An over exaggeration maybe. But this is the hardest and the most frequent I have cried in my life. And the drinking, although I had tried to fight the sadness with a glass or more for five days straight including the eve of my departure, I am yet to take it up this side of the Atlantic. መጠጣትም መስከርም እኮ የሚያምር በሀገር ነው::

The day I said goodbye to the girl I was going out with, የቦሌው ጎዳና ሽርሽር ያልንበት-ጎሳዬ was coming from the speakers. The fact that she and I ran the streets from ብሔራዊ to ሜክሲኮ notwithstanding, you will have to agree that it was one too many ሆድ የሚያባባ ዘፈን ::

Now I am on the plane and discover that the girl I was checking out during check in was sitting right across the aisle from me. My response to this fortunate turn of events could be summed up in what ፀጋዬ kind of said:


ሴቶቹን ማናገር ፈራን

ፈጣሪ የለገሰንን

በጥበቡ በረቂቅ የከፈተልንን


አፕል ጁስ ጠጣንበት


አፈር ጠጣ! ዝጋታም!

I doubt if I would be able to remember all of this safety instructions if shit goes down.

When we touched down at Frankfurt, I was reading:

መንገድ አይኑ ይፍሰስ አይባልም ደርሶ

የወሰደውን ሰው ያመጣል መልሶ

yiwesdal menged yameTal menged

It’s the second of አዳም’s books that I have read. I don’t claim to understand his writing every time. But reading this chapter from ግራጫ ቃጭሎች was a near tears experience. I remember muttering over my breakfast, “እግዚአብሄር ይባርክህ!”gq igq ii gq iii

Let’s call it a post. ይቀጥላል::


Glad August is gone.

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