friends and shit

I’m sitting home alone; it’s just me and the bull (shit.)

vina fuerte I’m occupying a four person apartment until new roommates are assigned. Below are the assortment of thoughts that are going thru my head this the eve of the second year since I left home.

  • I reserve the right to enjoy the newly-created space and order while at the same time kind of missing dearly moved out roommates. And I am not saying that because I now have to buy my own can opener; because I have to find a means of watching Bill Maher online now that the TV is gone. One of them, I exchanged the same four lines of pleasantries with, day in, day out. Other dude was just like me one of the founding fathers of this here place. He came through for me on several occasions. A far cry from another founding father whom I fell out with and who estimated that it would take only about 10 seconds to kill me.
  • Dude who sort of explored the feasibility of killing me hails from the same place as this friend from school. I dare say my only friend from school. A really nice guy. መቼም የእናት ሆድ ዥንጉርጉር አይደል የሚባለው?! He is helluva smart too. Always willing to help when I’m struggling in the lab. Watched a few games together. Dined together a few times. Aw, shit. It almost sounds like…  Seems has got a decent business acumen. He loves solving problems. He sees one and next thing you know, he may be in front of the nearest chalkboard, scribbling a simple algorithm for the solution. He really deserves all the best that’s coming his way.
  • Now, when we started this drinking thing, the plan was to finish a bottle of wine every month. But now I fear that I may have developed a bit of a resistance. አንድ ብርጭቆ እንደበፊቱ አላሰማ እያለኝ ነው:: At first I had thought that it probably was due to the oxidation of ethanol to acetic acid (አቼቶ.) ሰላጣ ከመብላት የሰከረ ሰው ደግሞ ተሰምቶ አይታወቅም:: But red wine is supposed to thrive at room temp, within reason. White wine likes to chill; that’s why it seems I won’t be after all drinking from this bottle:

leftover

Point is, like the good experimenter that I am, I tested a glass of white/red that sat out for too long and a glass of fresh red (not all at the same time 🙂 ) They were all poorly inebriating. Recommendation: up the dose. From humble beginnings; sky is the limit.

how to read the air

Liked the story; and the final paragraph. There was also this one part which I will post as soon as it comes back to me 🙂

  • አንድ ሰሞን ከአለቃዬ ጋር ሁለታችንም ፊኛችንን ልናቃልል ሰንሄድ እንገጣጠም ነበር:: I don’t know if it could be called the male equivalent of synchronized periods. It was almost like we had developed this special rapport that could only bode well for my work. ከዛ ግን ቀረ::
  • እዛው ሽንት ቤት ውስጥ… I am at one of the two urinals and another person had went to the stall. Then he does a swift 180 and gets the hell out of the place. I walk over to investigate -አንበሳ, ዘንዶ,… አይቶ ይሆን? ዘራፍ! Turns out it was actually a ዘንዶ:: አንድ ማንንቱ ያልታወቀ ግለሰብ ዘብልሎት ሔዷል:: አዬ ያንዳንድ ሰው ነገር! ኩራት መሆኑ ነው? Like, look at my output?

One

Take it away, Sami and Astu.

Video

AND THEN

Did I show the adaptability of O’Shea? Was I the super-sub that Solskjaer used to be? Well, I didn’t do too shabby. But credits are due to this particular kin of the groom who so ably guided us through the perilous waters of wedding ceremonials. Taking over our responsibilities on so many occasions, many observers concede he was the star performer amongst us. I stand bewildered when he would coax people into having another beer, the same people whom just a minute ago have alleged that hulum neger ale, beqa! But what did I expect? The line I approach them with is a simple min yiCHemer? said just for the sake of carrying out one’s duties; no persuasion, sweet-talk. He, on the other hand, has got a knack for socializing and for orchestrating social events.

Held against such high standards as set by him, small surprise when the bete zemed whom we were riding with in the return trip from the mels suggest, albeit in a playful tone, ager bet bihon mizewochun befilT malet neber! I can’t seem to stress this enough: I am just the temp, and a temp who loathes these occasions at that. Moreover, the other best man’s hatred of weddings has by now run from 80% to upward of a 100%.

On the same minibus, we learn that the best man who had called in sick has to be operated on. I would spend the night with him. Pethidine decides to start to wear off at around 3 AM and patient brings the ruckus. 4, 5 and 6 were him flipping me the bird and letting me in on his plans to tear skin off of his arm with his teeth and graft my mouth shut with it. He then modifies his earlier threat: the skin was going to be taken from my own arms. Kudos! Even in his drugged up state, his attention to detail was amazing. We should always keep an eye out for transplant rejection.

When dawn breaks, we try to see if music would somehow lessen the pain; boy was suffering:

I tell you, a thankless job all around 😦

It’s 20 to 5 on another day. The meeting is winding up. Vacate this place; board a mini bus after not a small amount of wait; once I am on board, there is bound to be another wait at a certain traffic jam (This is why I sometimes miss Bahir Dar. Granted, the bajajs are hard to come by at certain places and times. But once you are inside, it’s on! You hardly stop. There is only one traffic light in the city, after all. The joys of a one-traffic-light-city!) I will be going home; a home that, according to —may God rest her soul—Emama Yewodianesh, is situated in a neighborhood that used to be draped with trees and used to boast a significant number of hyenas that came out after dark. That was then. This neighborhood has now become one where the CSW’s (Commercial Sex Workers) come out after dark. All those houses that we used to refer to as ye’etiye ekelit bet, yegash ekele bet have morphed into rows of bars and pensions (or as so some signs would have it, penisions.) Every now and then, fights break out outside the nightclub next door. I am yet to chance upon one of the good fights (the one time I had the opportunity to observe, it was only drunken posturing and foul language; you would not have believed the mouth on that girl!) but I have heard next morning accounts. Peaceful nights are fast becoming a thing of the past. Talk about the Gordon generation.

Sure, we used to have beggars pass through back in the days. Now, they have set up shop on the sidewalks. There was this bunch near our house who used to pester me whenever I would pass them by. In their efforts to know the name of the person whom they were hustling for some birr, theyhad tried Johnnie and Binnie—real cool names. Those guys were supplanted by the girl with the baby and her friends before I had the chance to figure out what my response would be when they finally discovered what my real name was.

A country of hustlers, do-nothings, beggars, thieves, paper pushers, bureaucrats, lie-abeds, want-outs, screen gazers, coffee/tea cup huggers, sew mesay beshengos, mere passersby in this world in the strictest of senses, and, and, .…, more words and phrases to be added as they come to me, I wonder where we got the nerve to include so bold a verse as hizboch nen lesira besira yeqomin/yenorin? in our national anthem. It is such a farce. And don’t get me started on the myth perpetuated about fitsum Ethiopiawi Chewanet. I need to see other countries and make comparisons  to believe that shit. Perhaps one should get on an airplane to get the whole, better picture.

I guess it’s high time that we started to more strongly call ourselves on our own bullshit. And stop acting as if our ccLTD stood for extraterrestrial.

Anyway, I will be going home. The same street where I bear witness to the chicks changing colors, until my field of vision resembled a TV screen spread out over time:

And as per my new habit, home is going to be where I will spend the weekend. Not too distant are the weekends spent in the office at Bahir Dar, when suddenly in the thick of a Sunday afternoon, I would wish that I had a life. Once I had decided that I needed to get a life, a supermarket would spring into mind which, I was confident, would carry some life. But alas! The best supermarket in Bahir Dar was closed because, guess what, it was Sunday!

Oh life, where art thou?

I will be going home, where the street of fledgling debauchery is flanked by older and more infamous streets, Chechnya being one. So, assaulted as I am by sex-crazed winds blowing from all sides, amidst an experiment of dissipation, how did I manage to become a bastion of sexlessness? This was a question posed by a friend sometime ago. He went on to give the answer himself: you are the control.

Writing long meaningless blog posts is my way of disposing of all that unharnessed sexual energy 🙂 And you may have noticed it: I make sure to include at least one self-deprecatory remark in my posts. If you have hated this entry,  and then Bahir Dar  is just the thing for you; it is odious.

In conclusion,

To the convalescing fella –may you laugh and may it not hurt!

To the couple –may you work well as a unit! And please remember that I was the one –in a roundabout way—who suggested this song be included in the soundtrack to your wedding video:

I know I have been away for some time (as if anyone cares.) I promise from here on out, I am going to post more frequently –on ubuntu no less—in order to masakat the damn raey. Peace.

One

Uh uh uh, along with the track

Uh pardon me, uh, as I sign out

I am IMF, important muthafu..

I matter, what I write or do matters

(Repeat last line with ad libs until fade)

after 30

We are duplicating exam papers and are told that there is going to be a staff get-together tomorrow. Comes tomorrow and we are at this swanky place getting our dinner and drink on. Then we are supposed to come out in couples and introduce each other to the crowd, you know, all in the spirit of the event.

Side note: Some days earlier, I had appealed to the Academic Council-otherwise affectionately known as AC- to fix me up with a chick. Come on, what was I supposed to do?!  They asked why I was leaving and what it would take to make me stay. It’s always been said that anything and everything that we fail to deal with at the personal and departmental levels, to bring it to the AC. Bring it I did and they had said that they would take care of it no doubt . I suspect they had me (among other people) in mind when they put this thing together.

Now normally I get frisky even at the sight of beer. So it does not exactly ill behoove me when I start the introduction of a friend with “I could have introduced him better had I been sober”

No one laughs. People are looking down at their tables, ashamed for me: “siyayut eko dehina sew yemesil neber!?

That was 3/2 beers and a glass of wine later.

I talk about how he is a Bob Marley head (although his hairline is receding dangerously) and how he had lent me his PC speakers. He mentions my “alleged” Italian descent and how Adowa creeps me out; he finishes up by stating that I had turned thirty and am in an urgent need of a wife.

Another glass of wine, more introductions, speeches, comments and applause –we vacate the place.

A couple of guys suggest that we take the party to the next level. My adventurous self is in control and I get on board. But since I was not sure what the next level consisted in, I was a bit worried about things like hooker money and manscaping.

The four of us hit a place with a live band first. The band is a somber affair but we dance sitting down, remembering the songs that are being butchered on stage. Truth be spoken, the singers are not that bad. I even decide to bestow a gift of 10 birr (cheap!) upon this traditional singer when he decides to get off the stage and do some induction on the maximum of 10 guys that were in the place. Not only have I become adventurous this night, I am also innovative. I look for a decent place to put my gift on his person. Sticking it with saliva on his forehead is out. I put the money in the fold of his collar (are you afraid that people are going to call you cheap?)  It falls down and methinks the guy tramples on it after a cursory inspection.

It is loud up in here; we are straining to hear what the other person is saying. The paper labels  on the beer bottles come to our rescue –we communicate writing on those. It dawns on us-although it is still ninish- that if we are to continue sharing our thoughts, then we are going to have to drink more beer. More beer = additional paper to write on. We drink under the watchful gaze of Emperor Tewodros II. He is staring at us accusingly like we are his subjects whom he had ordered to carry the cannon up the mountain –and here we are eyecheleTin!  Chill out dude! All in good time! I question his decision to take his own life. He should have let himself be taken prisoner and when in London they wanted to display him as their latest conquest, he could have literally brought the house down, Samson style.

Next place we check out turns out to be a lounge bar kind of establishment where even the guy in the CD gets self-conscious when doing his thing.  We get in and get out.

Third place…

Before that, we discuss the wisdom of painting the town red, the town plagued as it is with students some of whom may be our own.  Relief comes in the knowledge that we have fixed their exam for the day after tomorrow. They are probably in their dorms, painting their handouts red instead. How about those who are not our students? Well, it is their city too, what the heck!

Third place is yeazmari bet. I was looking forward to hearing lewd lyrics, something in the lines of “cute guy with glasses” lyrics but they kept on talking about Abay, limat and… yuck! I would have been equally pissed if it was the other way round. That’s just me —Mr Opposite.  Noteworthy stuff from this episode: my tongue is in free flow; I am still riding the buzz which I caught three bottles ago. That’s the beauty of being a novice drinker, as one of my friends had remarked sometime ago: the buzz is not hard to come by; seasoned drinkers on the other hand have to toil and move a lot of bottles to get that same buzz. My shoulders are yet to loosen up; but that does not prevent me from doing the eskista with one of the female traditional dancers. The milliliters are going so fast that I am forced to wonder if someone from the crowd is guzzling my drink unseen.

The next morning I would receive comments that, in the foreseeable future, I would  be in the running to win the Sponge d’Or (The Golden Sponge)

Then to shooting some pool. My performance on the table could be summed in what one of the guys said: yaltegerezu ejoch

Here, the walls do not speak patriotism. Images of scantily clad ladies posing with the stick and what not. There is this one poster where a naked guy is about to shoot some balls into the huha of an equally naked lady lying on the beach, legs open. A couple of us surmise that another person is behind the guy, trying to do the same thing to him. You know, the hunter becomes the hunted.

Someone back me up on this: I have always thought that the purpose of those kinds of posters in pool houses is to enhance the performance of the players. Men are wont to make  shows of bravado when there are women around, two dimensional women regardless.

And out of nowhere, comes the impromptu list of some of the stupid things I have done in my life. Drum-rolls please! Off the top of my head:

  1. I once tried to impress a Protestant girl by blasting a new and very dirty rap song (no Lecrae)  from the  laptop. Maybe it was the right thing to do under the situation. I hear she sees a potential to be saved in everyone; and my potential must have been off the charts  😳
  2. Around  the time I started to frequent the internet room in school, I responded (phone calls) to a “You are the one millionth visitor to this site; you have won a prize”  I even told my moms and pops about the good news 😳
  3.  I crossed a busy street checking the other way for cars 😳
  4.  I gave one hundred birr to a hustler whose plan was to hustle me out of fifty birr. I even provided him with the place he supposedly knew me from 😳

Now, where was I?  Yes, the pool house. Gigi was doing her thing:

Night is getting deep. Last place we hit is a club with a shy DJ. At least that was my perception of him at the time. Perhaps I was comparing him with myself:  I was on the dance floor, getting down; I have loosened up all over; I am snatching imaginary trumpets from my friend. But the DJ, he is just fiddling with the CD player –why ain’t he dancing?!

Then come the dancing girls. For all the watts of sound coming out of the speakers, club falls silent, people hold their breaths, male and female alike. Their attire are swimming suits of an earlier and a bit more conservative era; not to say, midriffs and thighs were not in full display. The girl with a full behind and pleasant face goes first (was I thinking La vache qui rit?)  She keeps  pulling on her shorts. I take it to be a signal to put some money in there. I have watched enough movies to pride myself on my smattering of strip joint etiquette. But then I think the better of it: what if the bouncer (who, in all likelihood, doubles as her man) first tears my money in my face and then proceeds to tear me into pieces in full view of my friends: “here! put your friend together if you claim to really know him!”

Second girl  has got an Amy Winehouse in/on her. Everyone must have been thinking “she must be a real barracuda in the sack!” She goes on to try and bludgeon my friend over the head with her booty while doing her wall routine aka the spiderwoman. Esu ager selam new bilo gidgida teTegito eyeTeTa neber. She could have done some sweet damage had she been the other girl.

List of accessories on stage: a full length mirror which Amy seems drawn to. And a set of steel bars which remind one of the meat hangers that one would find at the butcher’s. My pious self interjects here: isn’t that essentially  what we are here to witness –women being treated and treating themselves as  pieces of meat?

The condominium of one of us is chosen as the place where we are going to crash  tonight. It is 2:00 AM. The biochemistry in us (ethanol inhibits gluconeogenesis, duh!) prevails and we have a hearty meal before going to bed. I could also attest to the fact that ethanol inhibits deep-seated inhibitions. I mean, I was dancing my ass off!

Next day someone goes as far as to suggest that we should be impartial, and we should continue the party in the sun, in the same vein we did it under the moon. Another exclaims that it had been a month since he had a decent night out, and that he needed this. Comparisons are made: 30 years vs. 30 days. Sure I have experienced bars and clubs before. But this was my first out-and-out night out. I guess another 😳 is in order.

But what was turning 30 like?

To be continued from the beginning.

One

stone soup. yedingay shorba

Below is the ferenj version of the story of the stone soup:

The etyopian version, well it is not so much a story as an aphorism —tagash yedingay shorba yiTeTal. This expression was made famous–at least in our circle–by Sami. The circle in question–or what’s left of it–comes together every several years.  In one such recent occasion, the story of the soup got the chance to be brought up again.

The four of us (two of the chicks, Sami and I) are kicking it with Mona’s mom and dad. Even under normal conditions, when you have brought Sami along, there would be no shortage of topics of conversations. But when Sami decides to bring along his outrageous dreads (Lord forgive that boy!), well then you know it is going to be topic bonanza. This song, Ganja Bonanza, is ringing in my head; but that does not mean Sami smokes weed. He’s just confused; or maybe he has got a lot of useful thoughts and he is trying to reach out to the world with his hair; share with us multidimensional pieces of his mind; or  he may recently have picked up the bible and stumbled uponThe Book of Judges; or maybe he’s just plain confused.

Dad is amazed by Sami’s dexterity with the Amharic language that he asks what his major in college was. Of course, all four of us are thallophyters (that is biologists for the uninitiated.) It’s testimony time from his friends and I jump in. I quote him on, what I believe is, one of his finest  utterances viz. the stone soup and patience. Mom and dad join us in our chorus of plaudits for the saying and the one who said it.  I credit the stone soup with being the one thing that keeps me going when I get frustrated by my haplessness (and helplessness) on matters pertaining to the fairer sex.

Sami goes on to heap insult to injury. He likens my excruciating vigil at the gates of love to that of a cat which waits on end for a mouse to come out of its burrow.

But it is all good. Once we have said farewell to our wonderful hosts, we were out on the streets, laughing it out, referring to potential targets as mice.

Unrelated; or a bit related…

When I came to Bahir Dar, I had told myself and others that it was going to be for three years.  After that, the plan was to pursue (it sounds as if I am chasing a paper and it is running for dear life) further education, or having failed to do that, relocate to a different part of the country. There was also that subliminal mission to be accomplished in those three years –I was to sow my oats. I’ve had it all figured out. From what I had heard, all I needed to bring was a copulatory organ and the girls in Bahir Dar were going to do the rest –initiation, follow through, the whole enchilada. A magazine with “Gonder and Bahir Dar: Bewesib YekeleTu Ketemoch” for a front cover teaser springs to mind. That was to be my life.

I hate it when Gonder is written as Gondar. It gives the impression that Bahir Dar and Gon Dar are twin cities or something.

Now it has been well nigh three years. And since the only oats I have been dealing with thus far is the one that I eat for breakfast, I believe it is high time for change. Kind of bide my destiny at a different location. I should move on before my attachment with Ba Da grows and makes it harder for me to leave.

And the nominees are (drum rolls)

With shared pros of newness and dusty roads and salty water for respective cons, ladies and gentlemen, damas y caballeros, I give you Jimma and Mekelle. Give it up for them.

There is also that lurking wish shared with almost every other member of the Etyopian intelligentsia (if I may dare call myself that) of going abroad and pursuing…

Why am I telling you all this? I am doing it for myself. I am using it as a public reminder for myself that I have got to make a change in my life in many respects; that I must beat my fear of the unknown which has started to creep up on me now that the deadline is looming; something that goes “but you told everybody that you were going to…” when I start to get cold feet (like I know I will).  I need to be prepared for and do what each of my possible alternate situation may require of me. And I am a Gemini and we are supposed to multitask.

This past three days have been disappointing in that I’ve been struggling to get into the rhythm of getting even the smallest of things done. (“The grand scheme of things thrives on the smaller stuff” Somebody. Somewhere.)

So get cracking!

One

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