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.

And the song went, “I could do anything for you. I could cross the mountains, the oceans, for you.” And it all seemed so silly at that time. Just something you say so as to make your song saleable.
But today, I woke up and it hit me that someone is crossing the oceans for me. 🙂

Don’t think I can say any more than that at the moment, but that particular song has been ringing in my head like a bee searching for a flower with the desperation of a starving dog searching for a bone. – ??? – what did I just say? Doesn’t even make sense to me.

I found that I can’t do anything after waking up. Can’t sit still. Can’t read. Can’t write – and that was always my escape. Whenever I don’t know what to do, I write. And all of a sudden, I’m out of this world. Somewhere out there. Far away. But today, I try to write, and all I can do is stare at the laptop like a zombie staring at a piece of bread – you know zombies don’t eat bread. They eat brains. So if a zombie is staring at a piece of bread, you can try to imagine what is going through it’s head.

Okay, what exactly am I talking about here? Zombies. Bread? Oh yes, yesterday, we did talk about zombies, just before she started her 24hour flight over the oceans to get here. And I don’t know how it is I’m feeling. Kind of restless. Kind of looking at the clock every minute that passes by.
It’s nearly 6.30. When her plane is supposed to land in this ancient city of temples and stinking rivers. It’s been a really long day. Been waiting for this hour since 5.30. Now a little more than an hour is left. Enough time to watch another movie?

Probably not. Have to leave the hotel at 6.00 so as to reach the airport in time to catch her landing. Well. I could watch a boring film. A very boring one. So I can escape when it strikes six! Though I know she probably won’t be able to get through all the checkpoints until about 7, maybe.
But better early than late!

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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.

He took me round to see Joachim (was the boss at that time) and the lady, and he went on and on about my work. And there was an artists sitting down there somewhere, looking at me. The next story they published, there was this cartoon that had a strange resemblance to me, with the goatee that was just forming.
And at that time, they were encouraging me to become a stringer – start writing feature stories. News stories. They wrote a letter, introducing me ‘To Whom It May Concern’, so that I could go about my business of becoming a proper journalist.

Well, their argument was, ‘In case we close down the fiction section, what will you do?’ They wanted me to stop writing fiction, and branch off into the news stories and such.

I did leave the office feeling so good with myself. I lit a cigarette, though it was a really hot day that afternoon, and smoked at the bus stop on Jinja Road (when you’ve come out from the New Vision road, whatever that road is called, must be some place in Industrial area) and I wanted to sit in a cool place and bask in what had just happened in the office. To feel good with myself. To celebrate. To pop the champagne bottle, if I’m to use a cliché. But the sun was shining hard upon this bus stop, and there wasn’t even a decent shadow for me to sit, and properly consume what had just happened in the editors office.

For what had happened there is something that every wannabe writer dreams about – the editor patting your back real hard, and encouraging you – and I think if I did not have that moment, I wouldn’t have persevered in my writing ambitions in the trying years that followed.

I did try it at journalism. I wanted to write this feature story about crimes of passion, and I tried interviewing one or two people, but one of them was so upset that I just could not go on with the project. Later, I instead wrote a short story, Mara Muddhu’s Puppets, which is yet to be published.
I went to the New Vision chief in Tororo, introduced myself, asked for help. A guy called Abraham Odeke, who also reported for the BBC Radio. And he seemed like a nice guy, but he wasn’t in the mood of nurturing a wannabe. I think.

So my attempt at journalism was very short lived.

And I was sad to see that the fiction section on the Sunday Vision was stopped. Just as Simon had predicted. Now I had no outlet for my stories.

I was choking with them. I wanted to write, but where would I send them? Who would read them?
It wasn’t until about 2002 or was it 2003 that I discovered the internet. And ezines. The only problem being that most of these ezines favored horrors.

And a writer will only write for the markets that are available to him. So it’s very unfortunate that there wasn’t any fiction or literary magazine in Uganda at that time. I turned to ezines, and I started writing horrors. I published the first one in 2004, in an outfit called The Swamp. A short story called Stu’s Honeymoon. And for a really long time, up until the time I went to the Maisha Film Lab in 2006,  I thought I was a horror writer.

Or at least I thought I was a writer of dark fiction. The first story I sent to Maisha, in 2005, was about a headmaster who rapes his little pupils to death. They did not pick it. But Wanjiru Kinyanjui liked the story, and asked me to let her hold it for two years as she tries to look for ways to make it. I didn’t say no. I agreed.

I’d met Wanjiru earlier, through an e-group. They were a bunch of Kenyan writers, and I suggested to them to start a magazine. They fell for the idea, and started one, which I thought would be an East African outfit, but ended up being so Kenyan. Kwani. I tried writing for Kwani, but somehow, at this time, I thought I was really a horror writer.

Which is a sad thing, because I think I wasted a lot of my efforts trying to write for a genre that I was meant to write in. I should have stuck to humor. Literary stories. But there were no outlets for literary stories for a Ugandan writer at that time. I could only find an outlet in ezines, which favoured horrors. And now I read some of these stories and I realise that they are really not what I would like to read at all! Very silly stories.

Well, in 2006, I again tried writing a horror to submit to Maisha – at least, at that time, Maisha seemed to be the only place in East Africa that I could send a story to. The only problem they were a screenwriting lab, not a prose fiction lab.

And though I’d tried to write a screenplay before, in 2002, with the help of Wanjiru, I never completed it. I didn’t even get round to writing the first page, because i didn’t have any motivation. I knew screenplays would probably sell better than prose, but before that I didn’t know who would read any screenplay I wrote.

So in 2006, I submitted this script that I thought was a horror, about beauty and the beast, but this time the beast is a woman and she kidnaps a man in order to break the curse and win back her husband’s love. When the mentors read it, they told me, ‘No, Dilman, this is not a horror. This is a romantic comedy.’

That was the wake up call. But still, in 2007, when I applied for the director’s lab, I wrote what could be considered a dark comedy. The actors, and other people, kept telling me, this is a comedy, and I kept telling them, no it’s not! And they would look at me as if I was mad. At least I managed to make a story that wasn’t a comedy. Still, people laugh when they see it.

And before that, when I made my first film, again an attempt at horror, and put it up on youtube, Under Sarah’s Bed, it just made people laugh.

Well, what I’m I writing all this nonsense for? I started out writing about my days at The Sunday Vision. And what triggered it all was a conversation I had on facebook, with Iwaaya, who runs this blog, http://www.madandcrazy.blogspot.com/ I was wondering where I’d met him before, and he beat me to it. He asked me; “Did you used to write for the Sunday Vision?”

How anyone would remember those stupid stories, written ten years ago, beats my understanding. But then, it makes me wonder really, makes me realize that people actually read my work, and I may not be famous like Steven King, I may not have earned more than USD $25 for my stories, but people remember my stories. Which says a lot about them. Which should encourage me in a way that –
Crap. It’s too long already. I need to stop the blog at some point. If I remember this train of thought, I’ll complete this tomorrow, or the day after, because I have to ghost write someone’s blog now. Hope I have material for that!


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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.

It amuses me, during the winter, to see how many people spend entire days just sitting on the rooftops, looking at the passersby – and during summer, like now, when it’s so, so, so hot, with temperatures hitting 40 in some places, and humidity at nearly a hundred, they abandon their beds and spend the nights up on the roof. For it’s much cooler there, with the full moon shining down on your, and the breeze making the trees sway –

Crap, I was writing about my house. And I say I’ve never lived in a house like this not because of it’s architecture, or the number of extravagant rooms, but the housemates that I’ve failed to get rid of.

When I’d just come in, the most prominent were spiders. There were all sorts of the creepy fellows around. I counted more than ten different species, and I once got the fright of my life when one as big as my fist, with legs about seven inches long, crawled out from behind a bowl on the table. I was so scared I killed him, yet later I realized he might have been the most harmless fellow. Still, the sight of him reminded me of Tolkien’s stories.

At least the presence of this one that I found in my sink encouraged me to make art with my camera – looks like a scene from a sci-fi film, maybe terminator, and those drops of water, don’t they look like mercury? 🙂

Then there are frogs. Or toads. Or whatever they are. They just don’t leave. Every evening, I find at least two hopping around, inside the house! I’ve given up chasing them out. Maybe they have a breeding ground somewhere in here, in one of the unused rooms, or under the carpets, but I’ve yet failed to see it.

And I wonder what they are doing here, if they can’t eat the tons of cockroaches that seem to be in every stupid nook and cranny! The other day, I sprayed the house, and there was about a hundred dead cockroaches that I swept out. Was to disgusted to take a photo of the massacre, but they made quite a pile outside.
I once found a scorpion on my mosquito net – well, not on the net itself, but inside the house, and it might have been on the net, you know 🙂 And yesterday, I found some kind of bug in the sink, like a squid, or a giant slug, or a giant something that I can’t tell. How did it get there?

There are bats that live above my front door. I’ve tried to chase them away, but they went away for the winter, and returned when it got warmer. Now, in the morning, some birds come to eat their shit.

And there are birds that have made a nest in one of my ventilators. I blocked it with cardboard, so they no longer fly into the house, but before I realized the problem, when I’d just come in, I would find a bird flying about almost everyday. And when they were building their nest, I would find all sorts of rubbish in the kitchen, and I would wonder how it got there!

And there are the ants. They started coming out last week. They invaded, and at least they clean up the dead cockroaches that die of old age and fall in places I can’t find them. So I like the ants, until I find them all over the sugar and rice and my food! Then I get very angry!

This is an eco-house. I should get a Pulitzer prize for housing all these guests, or maybe I should be quarantined for living in such a house has infected me with some kind of diseases that will wipe out mankind :-))

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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!

All of a sudden, I’m listening to a song done in 1960something, and God, isn’t it a wonderful song? “Jane Wange”, by Billy Mbowa with the AGS Boys. And then there is the one from Equator Sound, “Nona Ente Yo”. Wow. Just knocked my feet off the ground! Gold pure and simple. Wish I could get more of these babies, but if you are looking for Ugandan music of the 50s, 60s, or 70s, you might get some here.

Here is a link to voa, with kadongo kamu music of the 70s http://blogs.voanews.com/african-music-treasures/2008/02/05/kadongo-kamu-from-uganda/

And here is a link to dance music from the 1960s, featuring the hits I’ve mentioned above. http://www.mediafire.com/?pdxectjjw372y95

And here is stuff from Hugh Tracey. Okay, I don’t really know how to link stuff from piratebay.org here, but if you go to piratebay.org, which is a bittorrent site, and you search ‘uganda’, you’ll get links to four great oldie albums! Well, mostly recordings done by Hugh Tracey, of music that is probably lost forever in the political turmoil that wrecked our country since 1966.

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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.

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In the two photos above, taken in Malekhu, a small town on the highway from Kathmandu to Chitwan, fish are on sell. I don’t think they ever go out of seasn.

In terms of the food, I’ve never been so frustrated in my feeding habits. Not only because they eat lunch before breakfast, which means that when I go out to look for meals at the proper lunch time, this being about 1pm, I only find ‘breakfast’ foods on sale, snacks like momo.

The thing with their food is that once something is out of season, it’s totally unavailable. At least in Uganda, even if something is out of season, you can get it somewhere, though at a higher cost. But here, if mangoes are out of season, you can’t get it – so last year, mangoes were only available between May and October – I think, can’t remember too well.

Anyway, mangoes are back. Oranges are out. I was sort of used to the oranges, but I’m glad to have the mangoes back. Only that at the moment, only the sourish types are available. I’m waiting for the really sweet and juicy babes to flood the market!

IMG_0141

I don’t know what the guy in this photo is selling, but they were popular during the winter, and then all of a sudden, they vanished. Now, ice-cream is the in-thing. Everyone is selling ice-cream, at least in this oven district of mine. What amuses me about the ice-cream vendors is that peddle in on bicycles, with the ice-cream in a wooden box and the wooden box wrapped up in heavy, brown, sisal sacks, or jute, maybe to keep them warm. So whenever I see these peddlers, at first I think they are garbagge collectors, or maybe scrap collectors, until I hear them screaming eye-c-krim! And children run to them with coins. The ice-cream itself is often in a container that looks wooden from a distance, you might think they are eating chocolate, or something, not ice!

And with vegs, peas are out, cabbages are in. Egg plants seem to be available all year round. For a while during the winter, I ate nothing but peas, and I sort of liked them. But then I went to the market one day and was stunned to find nothing. Absolutely nothing, yet the previous day there were piles of them. That’s how the stuffs go out of season. One day, there, the next day, nothing.

So what happens is that for months, you have to eat what’s available. When I’d just come, it was daal (lentils) and rice. Daal also seems to be there all year round. Then it was egg plants and rice, until I got so fed up of egg plants. Then it was peas and rice. Now its cabbages and rice. At least pumpkins are also in season, so I’m eating quiet a bit of those as well.

 
In these two photos, a convoy of carts takes revelers to a Tharu wedding feast.
Weddings too come in seasons. Unlike Uganda where any Saturday is a wedding day, here, there are specific months for weddings. And even in those months, only certain days, according to the astrologers and priests and whatnots, only certain days are auspicious for the marraiges to take place, so while one day the whole village would be silent, the next day there would be five weddings happening in the same street.

Like today, there are two happening in my street, and they are competing in playing music. It’s like they want to see which party makes its guests the drunkest, who dances till late. I’m running mad for the music is boring nails into my skull.

I can’t sleep. Which is why I’m idling on this stupid blog. Which is why I should stop doodling and watch one of those silly films of the Marx Brothers.

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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.

SEAN: And if I asked you about women I’m sure you could give me a syllabus of your personal favorites, and maybe you’ve been laid a few times too.
But you couldn’t tell me how it feels to wake up next to a woman and be
truly happy. … And if I asked you about love I’d get a sonnet, but you’ve never looked at a woman and been truly vulnerable. Known that someone could kill you with a look. That someone could rescue you from grief. That God had put an angel on Earth just for you.  And you wouldn’t know how it felt to be
her angel. To have the love and be there for her forever.

Wow! That’s all I could think about when I heard those lines. I played that scene over and over again, maybe six times, just to hear those sweet words. And then shortly after, I stumbled upon another set of great lines.

SEAN: Yeah? You got a lady now?
WILL: Yeah, I went on a date last week.
SEAN: How’d it go?
WILL: Fine.
SEAN: Well, are you going out again?
WILL: I don’t know.
SEAN: Why not?
WILL: Haven’t called her.
SEAN: Jesus Christ, you are an amateur.
WILL: I know what I’m doing. She’s different from the other girls I met. We have a really good time. She’s smart, beautiful, fun…
SEAN: So Christ, call her up.
WILL: Why? So I can realize she’s not so smart. That she’s boring. You don’t
get it. Right now she’s perfect, I don’t want to ruin that.
SEAN: And right now you’re perfect too. Maybe you don’t want to ruin that.

Will says nothing.

A while later

SEAN: Well, I think that’s a great philosophy Will, that way you can go
through your entire life without ever having to really know anybody.

And a little while later, he says
SEAN: My wife’s been dead two years, Will. And when I think about her, those
are the things I think about most. Little idiosyncrasies that only I
knew about.  Those made her my wife. And she had the goods on me too.
Little things I do out of habit. People call these things imperfections
Will. It’s just who we are. And we get to choose who we’re going to let
into out weird little worlds. You’re not perfect. And let me save you the
suspense, this girl you met isn’t either. The question is, whether or
not you’re perfect for each other. You can know everything in the world,
but the only way you’re findin’ that one out is by giving it a shot.

Nice, ugh? You’ve heard it before, but somehow when you hear it again, it feels like these lines were written just to pass a message to you.

And how about this one that drives the message home with the ferocity of a hammer pounding a nail into a bit of wood?
SEAN
He pushes people away before they
have a chance to leave him. And for
20 years he’s been alone because of
that!

Exclamation is mine 🙂 Time to go to bed now. Nice movie. Very well written, Mr Ben Afflect and Matt Damon. I wonder why you didn’t remain writers because your acting after this movie hasn’t been very impressive.

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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.

And now waiting for the last days in Nepal is getting harder. The stifling heat only makes me miss home even more. The days are so long, though I know that time is short, for I still have to start editing Shristi’s story. And nor have I polished up and finished the Untouchable Love story. I think by the time I go back home, in July, I should have completed everything, so that at home, I’ll start with a new slate.

I’m planning a lot of things when I get back home. Unlike in 2008, which was a premature venture into full time filmmaking, this time round, I think I’m ready. I know exactly what I want to do, and I guess the two years in Nepal have gifted me with enough knowledge to start a profitable company.

There is the TV doc series I’m thinking of, should be nice and easy to set up, and able to make it within three months. Already started on the research, and the characters I hope won’t be to hard to convince. Then there is the TV drama series, The Total Agony, and I think this time round I do have something concrete I can work with. A plan of making it come alive. And then there is Felistas!

Wow! I just heard that I might have an extra 25k on that project! I wish I had someone with me here so we could celebrate together. I kept smiling on seeing that email, smiling in hiding, for I didn’t want anyone to know that I was smiling with my computer. Being very inquisitive people, they would ask me, ‘what are you smiling at?’ and before I reply, a group would have crowded behind me, trying to peek into my laptop to see what exactly was making me smile. Total lack of privacy.

Anyway, that’s very good news. Now I might have nearly 40k to work with. But lets wait and see exactly which goose is sitting on this new golden egg.


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