Monday, June 7, 2010


Like any resident in the general vicinity of the Gulf of Mexico, I have BP.

No, I don't mean BP, the company that for the past month seems to have adopted publications with titles like 'Environmental Degradation For Dummies' and '101 Ways How NOT To Plug An Oil Leak' as its operational handbooks.I meant BP, as in Big Problems.

But first, a preamble of sorts. Last week, I used up all the water in the communal tank in my plot to do my weekly washing, and this unfortunately co-incided with a similar intention by my next door neighbor to my left to do her weekly washing. The result was a row of such magnificent proportions that we had to declare a termination of all interaction with each other henceforth to put an end to it. On the other hand, my next door neighbor to my right works at a Casino in town and thus only works nights, so as I write this, he isn't home.

How the status of my next door neighbors fits into this narrative shall be made apparent presently, but in the meantime, back to me and my Big Problems. Problem One: I am hungry. Ravenously hungry. I am so hungry, I was halfway through the glass of milk I found in my kitchenette when I came home today before I realized it was actually lime water I'd earlier poured in the flask to keep it fresh.

Problem Two was when I came home with Problem One, my house was in NETHerlands.

My house being in NETHerlands is a term I use to denote the fact that there is 'Nothing to Eat in The House' [NETH]  FYI, NETH is not a straightforward description of reality. It could mean there really is nothing to eat in the house, or that there actually is something edible in the house, but I am not in the mood to cook it.

The latter was the prevalent description when I came in with Problem One, for hailing as I do from the Western Province of the Kenyan Republic, it would be easier for a camel to knit with a needle and all that than for copious amounts of maize flour to NOT be found in my house at any given moment.

But although I wasn't in the mood to cook, I was in even less mood to waste my money at a hotel. And since I was not going to exist on half a glass of lime water alone, I was left with no other alternative but to light my paraffin stove, put on a half-full pan of water, wait for it to boil then pour in the flour. But I'd hardly started to mingle the concoction when there was a sickening crack!

Big Problem.

You see, almost every step of the ugali-making process has a built-in escape mechanism for when things go wrong. For example, too much water? Reduce it or add flour. Too much flour? Reduce it or add water. Too little paraffin/gas or electricity blackout? To hell with the neighbors. Build a wood-fire outside.

But unless your neighbors are in a position to lend you theirs, [and we have already established that for various reasons, mine can't at the moment,] there is absolutely no hope for you when right in the middle of the ugali-making process, the ladle suddenly breaks.

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