Starving Artists and Rejection Slips at Christmas

It's the worst part of being an 'artist'. For this reason they came up with the term, starving artist, to make the whole thing seem romantic. To make the artist think he has a right to starve, since he is the 'creative' type, the one who lives on dreams, who is too lazy to get a proper job and earn a decent salary. I must have got a thousand rejection slips by now, most of them computer generated, but every time I get one, I get that feeling deep down in my stomach that I'm wasting time. That I should be thinking of getting a job as a teacher in some village secondary school -- though with the way things are today, it might be harder getting such a job than getting published! At least, thank God for the internet, I can blog and pretend to be famous writer because I have about a hundred followers, who don't even read the blog.
Famous, but was a poor church mouse.


What Will I Do Before I Die?

A bucket list? That list of things I must do before I die?

I do not remember at any point in my life making such a list, but sometime during my teenage years, an insane desire to write novels gripped me, and this flared into a ridiculous quest to make a living out of telling stories. So I guess the cliché items on my bucket list would be things like "get published," "win an Oscar,"get really famous like Werner Herzog." But the nightmare of trying to get a decent break makes those ambitions rather childish.

Open Fly at the Airport

Last week, I got an email from the most important documentary film festival, www.idfa.nl. They accepted my first feature length piece of work, Untouchable Love, in their Docs for Sale section. How I wish I had finished it in time to meet the deadline for the main festival!

Well, when some people hear that I was in Nepal (overseas!) for two years making a film, their first thought is that I got a lot of money. Sometimes I laugh on hearing that, for the story behind the making of Untouchable Love can make a documentary of its own.

Working like a slave :(

Feeling too tired to write anything. Blame it all on this current job. Why do we have to work at all? Why can't we just lie on the beach and wait for manna to fall from heaven to feed us? Why can't we just dream and get rich from it? Why do mean people like Trump get rich while I have to sweat it every single day of my life? -- Oh life really sucks!
Isn't this kind of life marvelous? Listening to music, book in your laps, as you loll on rocks in the middle of River Nile

I Suffer to Entertain You

Recently, I got a job directing the NTV Series, "The Hostel." So far, it is the most demanding job I’ve ever met, so unlike anything I’ve ever done. Honestly, for a moment or two, I keep wondering just what it is I’ve gotten myself into. It is the first project where I will not be totally in control of the whole process---someone else decides what the story is, who the actors are, and who makes up the crew---and yet I’m the kind who prefers total freedom to do as I please while crafting a story. Moreover, this is a production that uses two cameras. I always use one. And yet, with the craze "The Hostel" stirred in Kampala a few months ago, I’m under pressure to do better, though I'm in a strange land. 

This Moment

This Moment:  A Friday ritual. A photo---no words---capturing a moment from my travel experiences. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment you want to pause, savour and remember.

Strange Stories of Adultery

Last week, I wrote about "The Secret Life of Adulterers," as I reminisced about the first major film I made, What Happened in Room 13. Watch it here for free. Some suggest it’s the finest short film ever made in Uganda, a masterpiece, but it’s mostly because of the Oscar-deserving performance of the actors.
Richard Tuwangye on stage, with Fun Factory

They are famous comedians in Kampala. Richard Tuwangye, Ann Kansime, Veronica Namanda, Gerald Rutaro and Bugingo Hannington, famous names from the famous Fun Factory. At the time of making Room 13, I was inexperienced. They, however, did a great job of making the script come alive. Without them, the film might not have been as successful as you see it.

The Secret Life of Adulterers

A man sneaks into a seedy hotel room. Moments later, his best friend’s wife joins him. Just as they start to make love, an accident kills her. And now he has to hide the body in order to keep his adulterous affair a secret. That’s the premise of what some say is my masterpiece, What Happened in Room 13, which I made in 2007 under the Maisha Film Lab. It’s an 18-minute thriller with no dialog. Click here to enjoy it! Free!

Someone once asked me a question that writers find so ridiculous: “Where did you get that idea?” I equate it to the question, “Where did you get that shirt?” To some readers ideas grow on trees, and all a writer does is climb and harvest a masterpiece.

Happy-sad to be back home

Finally, I’m back home. I don’t know if I’m happy or sad. Maybe both. I returned at a period when the economy is in crisis. Inflation is soaring and the value of the shilling is on free fall. I can’t believe how expensive life is here, how much I pay for transport, for basic commodities, and it makes me wonder how people survive. It makes me scratch my head how I’m going to survive these tough times, seeing that I have to start from scratch.

My Friend is a Prostitute

This is a goodbye Nepal post. It's been almost twenty hectic months. Now, three documentaries later, I'm finally going home. Today, I have a screening of one of the three docs, a feature length - my first feature length piece of work - Untouchable Love. Read about it here http://untouchablelovenepal.blogspot.com/ and follow the cause on facebook http://www.facebook.com/Untouchable.Love.Nepal

This documentary is the reason I came to Nepal. Late in 2008, I had rashly quit a day job to try and make a living in film making. Within two months, I discovered I had committed suicide. And then the girl I was eyeing then, who all along was tagging along with me to the movies and lunch dates, started growing cold feet. I tried to make it work by taking her to guitar classes, for she loved the guitar, but instead, she started eyeing the guitar instructor. And I felt very bad that Christmas. So unloved. So lonely. A major disappointment to everyone who had ever believed in me.

The Magic Song

When my girlfriend mentioned that Nepal is a heaven for men, she had no idea that it actually is a paradise, mostly because of this Nepali song that if you sing to a girl, she automatically falls in love with you :-) Or, whoever hears you singing it will offer you a bride.

The lyrics go like this, "Maya ke hola/socheko/timi nai/ho mero/behuli" (What is the meaning of love/I am thinking/that you will be/my/bride) Here is the song on YouTube.  

My Favourite Inter-racial Movies

“Mississippi Masala” (1991) I like this one very much. It’s a beautiful story, makes you believe in love, and many say it’s the first time that Denzel Washington undressed and kissed in a movie! I put it at the top of my favorite inter-racial movies partly because it deals with a Ugandan family (and I’m Ugandan) – but mostly because it’s a relationship between a black man (me) and an Asian woman (my girlfriend) :-o The other thing is that the director, Mira Nair, founded a film training school in Uganda, www.maishafilmlab.org and through this school I learnt a lot about filmmaking.


Bathing at the Roadside

Every morning, as I walk to work, I pass by the bathrooms of my neighbors. Well, not really bathrooms, for there are no walls, no tiles, no sink, no taps, no mirrors and showers, just a water pump in the front yard. And it’s not that they cannot afford to construct a proper shelter. I think it has something to do with the construction of the society, where nothing is private. Not even your body. Nor your marriage or sex life, that’s why they take their baths out in the open where anybody can see them.




Living in Public

You certainly have heard of all this noise people are making about the internet ripping away all our privacy and making us live in some Big Brother’s House? Well, if you come to Nepal, you’ll get a feeling of what it is to live in public. For this is a country where they don’t have bathrooms. Rather, you take your bath right by the roadside (but this subject deserves more attention. I’ll write about it shortly)

Water! Water! I’m Burning Up!

Yesterday was the worst day of the year – well, apart from that day in January when I had two heaters running and yet I still felt frozen. One of the worst things about Nepal is the weather. Especially if you live in the plains, the terrai, where the winter is so cold you can’t stay naked, and the summers are so hot you can’t keep your clothes on!

Inter-racial Blues

I recently remembered a saga that happened about four years ago, in 2007. A friend of mine from the US came to Uganda on a filmmaking workshop – or something like that – and in the short period he was in Kampala, he fell in love with a girl, let’s call her Vicky (and we call him Peepy :-)

Snake in the Backyard.

a kiss in the sunset is proof of true love!
After two weeks of beautiful weather and incredible time with an incredible girl in incredible circumstances, I’m back in my small and very boring town. Very hot here. 35 degrees, but feels like 50! Because of the humidity. And I’m wondering what I’m really doing here. The last two weeks have passed like a dream, more like a very sweet dream, and I wonder if time will turn it into a nightmare. But for the moment, I’m relishing the sweetness of it all, the honey that dripped out of the rays of each sunrise for the last two weeks, and the beauty of the elusive sunsets that nevertheless brought me dreams from fairy tales.

Suddenly, I’m in a relationship.

Anything for You

When I used to hear those love songs, from way back in time, songs that had lyrics you could listen to over and over again – not like contemporary love songs where you have no idea what the musician is singing about. Anyway, those old songs – I remember one, I think it was 3T, Anything, though they might have remixed someone else’s, and I can’t remember who that was.

Anybody Reading?

The business of writing is a strange one. Not just because it requires a lot of patience and picking up your ambitions after a rejection of some sort shatters it. But just because you never know what impression you are making on people – you never know who is reading your stories.

Ten years ago, I wrote four short stories for the Sunday Vision. Nothing big. But some people thought they were humorous. Anyway, the Sunday Vision editors at that time, Joachim Buwembo and Simon Kaheru, and a lady whose name I forget, they were besides themselves with excitement when they saw my stories, and I remember the first time I walked into their office, and it was Simon who seemed the most excited.

House Mates

I’ve never lived in a house like this. It’s big, a bungalow, has three bedrooms, one living room, one kitchen, two bathrooms, and space in the roof where you can host a party, or sun bathe during the winter, or sleep at night during the summer. Well, rooftops are very much a part of Nepali socializing culture.

the golden oldies

Over the last week, I’ve discovered a whole load of gems in classical Ugandan music. Stuff that I did not think existed! I’m doing a research for my next project, which might be a TV doc series about the life and works of Ugandan artists from way back in time. And at first I didn’t know exactly know what I would find while doing this research, but the internet is such an amazing thing!

Pumpkin Season

One thing that I find so frustrating about Nepal is the seasons. They claim it to be the only country in the world with six seasons, but it actually has the worst weather. When it’s hot, it stays hot for months and months without dropping even a degree, and I’m talking about 40degrees and above for days on end. When it’s cold, its 2degrees constant for a whole week. When it’s misty, planes don’t fly for many days.
 IMG_0163IMG_0153










Real Life Quoting the Movies

The first time I tried watching Good Will Hunting, I didn’t get past the first thirty minutes. Mostly because I at first imagined it had something to do with hunting and I was disappointed on learning it was some boring stuff about mathematics.

But I heard a lot about it, how great a film it was, and then this evening I watch it, and well, it’s okay. Very well done. And some of the lines from it make me want to see it over and over again, just to listen to these words, for in a way I’ve never felt before, I felt as if this film was speaking directly to me.
For example, see these lines between Sean, the Robin Williams character, and Will, the Matt Damon character. It just blew my minds away, yet a few years back, hell, maybe even a few months back, it wouldn’t have made any sense to me at all.

Waiting for Days to Go By

The heat is back. For a while, I had almost forgotten how hot Nepal is. Unlike last year, where we had fans running all day and all night by March, this time round it's been very nice, Uganda-like weather until mid last week. What amazes me is that the seasons change with the calendar months. When they said it will be nice weather until May, it waited until May to get hot.

A Ghost and his Client

I did not expect to be a ghost writer. I remember turning down one job, way back in 2009, when it was clear I might end up a ghost. Well, I didn’t turn it down really, but I quoted a price so high that the potential client refused to respond – not even a letter telling me no.

A Clash of Color to Change Lives

Before I came to Nepal, I was not aware that I’m a black man. I thought I was an African. Now, I don’t know how I will behave when I go back to Uganda, what my attitude towards the Asians and White people will be.

Well, a few days ago, I walked out of my house to do some shopping in the bazaar – I grew up in a street called Bazaar Street, which I only found out recently that bazaar is a Hindi word, and this is the only town in Uganda that has elected an Asian MP three times into parliament. that is, in post independence Uganda.
But here I was walking out of my home, and the moment I was out, the staring started. I was rather used to it. Until I ran into a group of boys, maybe between eight and twelve, and they started shouting at me ‘habsi’. That’s the Hindi word for Negro.

My Expensive Hair Cut

Last Friday, I picked up a scissor and shaved my head. After two months of letting the hair grow wild, until it looked like a terraced hillside, for it curled and formed rows on my head like tracks of a strange rodent. I feared to go to the barbers, or rather, I was fed up with visiting those barber shops.

I did try to go and get a proper shave on Tuesday, but that’s the day the barbers go on holiday. Or is it their superstition that they are not allowed to cut hair on a Tuesday? I know in some places, shops close on Mondays because it is bad luck to buy or try on a new cloth on a Monday, therefore the shopkeepers, foreseeing bad business, take a day off on that day. I forget which day is not good for travelling – Tuesday? Or visiting, or showing up at work for the first time. But Tuesdays you’ll never find a barber shop open. So last Tuesday when I found it locked, I lost whatever courage I had to get a proper shave.

Signs

IMG_0543
It reminded me of the movie, Signs, by my fallen hero Mel Gibson. The racist, nazi bastard. But this one was not made by an alien. And it’s not a sign that’s so hard to decipher. It’s a universal symbol. And the other day I found it on my doorsteps!

A Better Angel

In times of desperation, often we say ‘the first thing that comes up, I’ll go with that one.’ Whatever situation we are in, whether simply hunger. You’ve stayed too long without eating food, and not because you can’t afford to, but because you failed to get time to. And at the end of the day you say to yourself, ‘I’ll go to the restaurant, whatever food is available, I’ll eat it.’ Even if it is a dish you hate. Even if it is a dish that will make you blow up, even while you are trying to shade off that extra weight.

The Fun of Dating in Nepal

Living in Nepal these last fifteen or so months has been an eye opening experience for me. It has changed my concepts of love, of dating, and of marriage. Maybe for the better. I used to think it was all fairy tale stuff, but somehow, I now believe in the myth of true and pure love – the kind they sing about on the radio and play out in the movies.
Lovers make the most of load shedding
and turn their dinner into a candlelit affair,
in Lama's Cafe, Lazimpart.

Is Ejaculate a Taboo Word?

Funny thing I noticed while reading Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre-Dame – a book I wish I had read while I was much younger. It’s such fun, with such a sense of humor that I wonder why I have never been encouraged to read it until now?

I only picked it off the shelves the other day because of the animated film. I found a friend watching it, the last bit of it anyway, and was so intrigued that I thought the book would be as good.

The Return of Uncle Benon



This is a big step forward. I like it. I like the narration. Bravo gentlemen, and I particularly like that they are calling it kinauganda. Best brand name you can ever think of!
--
You May Also Like:
first day shooting
the quiet before the storm
and the edit begins
The Pains of Documentary Making
stunned

One of Those Gloomy Days

I thought they were gone, but today I woke up feeling real down. After a week of making a ton of grant applications, I can’t help feeling down. The problem with applying for grants is that it makes you feel like a begger, and for people who have low self-confidence (blame it on the upbringing!) once that kind of feeling sets in your moods start to go down.

This confidence thing, it’s really not anything I can do anything about it. It’s like some people will laugh at the slightest tickle, others will cry at the slightest pain, others will develop verbal diarrhea at the slightest opportunity. I just start to doubt myself when I don’t see a way out of a difficult situation.

Do You Believe in the Love of the Silver Screen?

Well, I watched this brilliant movie, ‘Definately, Maybe’, the other day, and it’s these kinds of movies that make me wonder if love of that kind is found in everyday life.

The same people who made it were behind ‘Love Actually’, which is one of my favourite movies, and which inspired me to attempt writing a TV series called ‘The Total Agony of Being in Love’. One of the characters, a 12year old boy, does say he is in the total agony of being in love because a girl he wants doesn’t even look at him, or something like that.

The Pains of Documentary Making

Yesterday, one of the young men I interviewed for the documentary, Untouchable Love, called me. I was happy, and wanted to learn a little bit of news from him, since I had not heard from them since October, when I did the interviews. I had tried to call him a few days back, but he was not available near the phone and his younger brother must have passed on the news to him.

Finally I Take a Shower

The winter has ended. The freeze is gone. Finally, a few days ago, I took a shower after a really long time. Felt so fresh. I also had my clothes washed and wore something clean and decent. Now I know what they mean when they say winters are depressing. You get holed up in your room all the time, and you have to wear only one or two pairs of underwear for a whole month.

Thermal underwear. I was very curious when I first heard that term, while in Uganda, and they told me that I had to buy thermal underwear in order to survive the winters in Nepal. I thought they were underwear that had some kind of tube in which you pour hot water to keep you warm. Just as a car tyre has a tube to put air in. But well, it apparently isn't that kind. I don't know why they call them thermal.

Operation go Back Home!

Yesterday, we celebrated the end of the winter season, and the start of spring. It is supposed to get warmer, and I thought today there would be some sunshine so I can wash my clothes, but I opened my windows and f!, all gray, with mists hanging above the ground, sneaking between the branches of the trees and swirling around the clothes hanging on the neighbors wire, more like a scene in some ghost film. At least it isn’t as cold as it was just last week, it’s only 11 degrees. :-)

Close Encounters of What Kind?

Just watched that Spielberg movie, and while the first bit was a thriller, the ending was so stupid. Well, I was left wondering why he made the film in the first place, just to show an encounter? Just for this bum to get to go to space?