Seven Reasons Why Women Fear Commitment

Women are more afraid of commitment than men. They’ll end perfectly good relationships for no reason at all. Even when they seem perfectly happy in a relationship, so happy that the man is encouraged to buy a ring, the moment he proposes, things start to go downhill. Some of them become serial heartbreakers. They make men need them, and when he’s firmly in a girl’s grasp, when he starts to dream of having children with her, she gets scared and tells him, ‘You are too clingy.’ Well, no man has ever figured out what women want, but I think I have. You might think of the good old reasons, that they are pursuing a career, or that they want to travel and see the world, or that they fear children will make them shapeless, or that they were hurt once and so would rather stay single. Far from it.


A Labwor woman in Karenga. I wonder if she would fear commitment!
What reasons would she give to avoid getting hitched?
 1. Women are afraid of men who love them too much.
Apparently, the modern guy has seen Titanic, and wants to be a replica of Jack. But the modern girl isn’t impressed. She doesn’t want a man who superglues on her, who calls her every few minutes. They don’t want men who stay home to help with supper rather than go to the bar to watch soccer. Don’t call me pig. I heard all this from women themselves. I thought about this article after I stumbled upon a note a friend of mine, the writer and poet Rosey Sembatya, made on facebook. In it she gives eighteen reasons as to why she is afraid to commit, and four of these had something to do with the attention the man gives her. “He’ll adore me and I won’t know what to do,” she writes. “He’ll be my friend and I won’t know what to do. He’ll like coming home at 5pm just to chat as I prepare dinner. Who said I’ll be home at 5pm? He’ll like crazy buy me flowers like I said I like them.”

2. Women fear the knight will transform into a pig.
The man she falls in love with might be a fantasy figure straight out of the glossy magazines, a dashing bombshell with a six-pack. But disfigures all man. He will advance in his career, and get too busy to go to the gym. The money will flow in, and he’ll have one too many beers, and too much pork, and then his tummy will balloon until he looks pregnant, and the fat will cause his neck to disappear. And as Rosey writes, “He’ll grow hair in his nose. Then he’ll refuse, or forget, to clip the hair in his nose until it escapes and connects with his moustache, until it becomes gray. Then he will wake up having drooled and want to kiss me on the lips.”
3. Women never know what they want.
In researching this article, I took a peek into the abanonya (those searching for love) section of Bukedi newspaper, where the bold women put ads for the kind of men they are looking for. Many of them give very contradictory characteristics in what they want to see in a man. There are those who write that they want a man who is either a Born Again Christian (the radical holy-spirit firebrands) or a Muslim. Does that make sense?


A Nepali woman. She lives in a culture where staying single is not an option.
4. Women fear men who cook better than they do.
This is a strange one. You would imagine that with all this feminist talk and women liberation circus, they would fall head over heels for a man who does the cooking. But no. They prefer to do the cooking. Maybe they are afraid that if the man is a good cook, then he will always find fault with their cooking, and thus they will never be able to satisfy him. I was once in a relationship where she never allowed me to cook. She limited my role in the kitchen to washing the dishes, boiling water for tea, and boiling rice. She thought if she allowed me to cook, I would feed her blackened beans, or half-cooked potatoes. Then one day she saw a picture of a dish I made, and she flipped out. ‘You must have bought it from a Chinese restaurant,’ she said. Maybe we broke up because she realized I was a master chef. 🙂
There are no secrets to cooking great dishes, as many modern men have discovered. They stay single well into their thirties (often because they cannot find women who are ready to settle down), and this forces them to learn to cook. Some will go to restaurants, but eating out every meal is not only costly but outright boring, so these men spend the long years of bachelorhood unconsciously perfecting their culinary skills. When they get bored of pasta and boiled eggs, they search the internet for recipes, then they simply turn on the stove, throw a few things into the pan, and bingo, a Chinese dish. Why then are women afraid of men who cook better than they do?
A dish of pasta, vegetables and beef, made by a bachelor. Me 🙂
5. Women are afraid of a man’s wardrobe.
‘My future one will love pink,’ Rosey writes, ‘and have pink boxers, and pink shorts, and pink shirts, and a pink key holder to match.’ Hmmm…. They will force him to wear costumes of their choice. They think his choice of clothing will kill them with the laundry. ‘He’ll say he feels adored when he sees me washing his jeans with my bare hands.’ A long time ago, an aunt visited us, and she was telling my mother how she hates washing her husband’s jeans. She decided to hide them, and instead bought him a bunch of coats and ties. ‘You look more charming in these,’ she said. He had never won a coat or tie in his life. He drove a bus for a living. She complained about how impossible it is to wash grease off jeans. He did not see how he could go to work in a tie. He wanted his jeans. A fight broke up. They divorced.
6. Women set very weird standards in what they look for in a man.
Recently, I was talking to a woman who works at the driving school I went to. She is in her thirties, and not yet married. I asked her what she is waiting for, and she said she has not yet met the right kind of man. She wants a widower, or if not a divorcee, who already has a child under the age of three. She is a born again Christian, and she says it has been her prayer request for seven years now. Every Sunday, she goes to church and asks God for that one thing. Please send me a single man who already has a child under three. ‘Why?’ I asked her. ‘So that I can test myself and see if I am a good woman,’ she said. ‘You see,’ she added, ‘loving another woman’s child is the hardest test a mother can face. I want God to give me such a man so that I can see if I turn into an evil step mother.’
Nothing she said made sense to me, but it clearly was an excuse to stay single. I don’t know what her history is. Maybe she suffered a terrible childhood under a step mother and wants to make amends. I don’t know why she bothers God with such an insane request. I can only pity the scores of men whose heart she has broken because they don’t meet her criteria.
She reminded me of another lady I tried to date, a long time ago, a Mutoro who said she preferred light skinned men. Not white men, just light skinned Africans. Unfortunately for her, most of the men who picked interest in her were dark, like me, and the most insistent of all was a guy so dark he looked blue. He was a sweet man who sent her flowers and chocolates every week. Poor guy.


Rosey Sembatya, who wrote the note. Pre-commitment fears.
Read it here on facebook 
7. Women are afraid they will get less sex once they are married.
This has to be one of the greatest paradoxes in life. Single men think they don’t get enough bed action because they don’t have a hole dedicated solely to them. They know how difficult it is to convince a woman to open her legs, that’s why they use their hands, or end up gay 😀
Single men envy married men, who they think get bongobongo whenever they are horny. But married women complain that their husbands don’t poke them at all. They think single women get all the action because single ladies have all the freedom in the world. At least when you are still single, a commitment-shy lady will say, you can do bongobongo anytime you wish to. All you have to do is wink at any man you see, whether he is a bodaboda rider, or a drunkard staggering home, or a hunky model, and you’ll be sure to catch his attention for chances are that he is a starving animal. But when you are married, hmmm, you are stuck with one guy whose performance leaves you hanging in suspense.
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When to Kiss is to Sin: Dating in Nepal Pt 3

Normally, I don’t kiss and tell, but this happened so long ago that it doesn’t matter much. Sometime early in 2010, shortly after I arrived in Nepal, a time when I was still single and had not yet met the Filipino bombshell. A time when I was still befuddled with that timeless question: what is the meaning of love. This is probably the last post recounting my personal experiences of dating in Nepal. (Read here part 1 and part 2). The two years I spent there, I was more concerned with their love and marriage customs, for I was making a film about inter-caste marriage, but some mistook my interested to be a veiled expression of my desire to find a Nepali wife, so I got my fare share of proposals, probably more than most foreigners would get, because I spoke the language and lived in a rural community.

This is what I once found on my doorsteps. Read it here.

Well, last time, I told you about Sweta. I went with her on a date, which I thought went horribly wrong, but which to her seemed to be a big step forward. She asked to come to my place the next day, supposedly to cook for me a meal. I called in sick at work that morning, for she was due to arrive at about 10 am. That, in Nepal, is after lunch. She would make nasta, snacks, maybe chow-chow. I hated it. They were a kind of instant noodles, but cooked with eggs they served as my main meal many times. I wished she offered to cook a chicken dish instead, or something much more romantic than factory food.

When she showed up, she brought me a package. Momo. Dumplings. I loved momo, one of the few Nepali things that I fell in love with. She brought steamed,  buff momo, made from buffalo meat. I preferred veg momo, but since it was a gift, I wasn’t going to be picky about it.

I lived alone in a huge bungalow. It was walled in and gated. It had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, one living room, a kitchen, a dinning room, and a rooftop space, but Nepalis being very nosy people, I couldn’t be certain of absolute privacy. Being day time, I had no intention of doing ‘funny business’ with the girl. Since I used only two rooms, the bedroom and the kitchen, the other rooms were covered with dust and cobwebs, so I took her straight to my bedroom. She didn’t protest, nor did she expect me to dishonor her. Privacy being nearly non-existent, it was not uncommon to end up in someone’s bedroom on your first visit. Moreover, most youth lived in single rooms, with shared bathrooms and kitchens. It was not a big deal taking her straight to my bedroom. There being no chairs, so she sat on the bed.

Why is she gloomy while on her date?

I’ll skip the boring parts. Our conversation was pretty much a rehash of the previous day. She asked about my country, my people, the foods we eat, the clothes we wear, the things we see on TV, how many people we were in my family, how many brothers and sisters I had. We ate the buff momo, the chow-chow, we drank a ginger-lemon drink with honey.

Then the interesting part came up. The kiss. I don’t know who did it, but I guess I made the first move. One second, we were seating on my bed, Kunti Moktan’s songs played in the background. The next, my lips touched hers. Nothings serious. Nothing deep. The kind of kiss you could give a sister, or a little child, but the girl jumped away in utter horror.

“You papi me!” she screamed. She fled into the bathroom and washed her mouth.

When she came out, I thought she would be fuming in anger, but she had this playful smile, which encouraged me to give it another go. Another little peck on her lips. They were cold, from the water, I think, and tasted of some lip cosmetic I couldn’t name, and again it was not the kind of kiss you would expect in a hot, romantic scene, but this girl jumped up as if her insides were exploding, and again she ran into the bathroom and washed her mouth.

I did not understand what the word ‘papi’ meant. I looked it up in my pocket dictionary the moment she had left, and learnt that it meant ‘sinful’ or ‘evil’. Every time I kissed her, she said ‘You papi me’ and ran into the bathroom to rinse her lips. The washing was a ritual of absolution, of purifying something polluted.

Lovers enjoy a cozy moment in Lama’s Cafe, Kathmandu

Nepalis believe the mouth is the greatest polluter. Once you touch something with your mouth, it becomes impure, and must undergo a ritual of purification. They have a concept called jutho. Food that remains on your plate is polluted, and no one other than those lower than you (untouchables, children, your wife, dogs) can touch it. One time, we were eating lunch with my boss, and I asked to eat a lemon she had left. I picked it off her plate without waiting for permission. She was scandalized. Though she had not touched it, it was part of her left overs. She snatched it off my hands, and sprinkled water on it before allowing me to eat it.

During my time there, I learnt to drink water off glasses and bottles without touching the vessels with my lips. It’s something that puzzled me a great deal at first. Water vessels were never individually owned. In offices, especially in the terrai region where temperatures hit 40 degrees and you have to drink water constantly, there is a big water bottle on every desk. You cannot have your own water bottle. People take bottles without asking for permission. They expect you to share it. But once your lips touch a bottle, it becomes jutho, and no one else will drink from it, even if they are dying of thirst. It was one of the first tricks I learnt the moment I landed, to drink without letting my mouth touch the bottle or glass. Sometimes I find myself pouring water into my mouth without letting it touch my lips.

A Nepali woman shows love for her husband,
by scribbling their initials S + J

While the mouth is the biggest polluter, water is the purifier (Gold, on the other hand, purifies polluted water). Hindus have great attachment to water and the concept of purity. Some people, I heard, have to bring fresh water into the house every morning, because the one that stays overnight becomes impure and thus unfit for drinking or cooking rice.

So it was with this girl. She washed her lips to purify it for I had made it impure by touching it with my lips. This game went on for about ten minutes. I kiss, she runs to the bathroom to wash her mouth, yet each time she came out I thought she was inviting me to ‘papi’ her some more, and each time I ‘papi-ed’ her, she ran to cleanse herself.


Naturally, it killed my appetite. After about ten episodes of the game, she finally excused herself and promised to set up another appointment, but I did not want to go through another nightmare. It scared me off having a relationship with Nepali women. I could not imagine someone going to wash herself every time we kiss.

I made discreet inquiries after this, for I was curious to know if the same thing occurs between married people, and the answer I got was; ‘there is no jutho‘ between husband and wife’. How convenient!

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The Fun of Dating in Nepal pt 2

She got married so I guess it’s okay for me to write about this, though I’ll still not say her real name. I saw a status update on facebook, and I know she is married. Nepali girls wouldn’t write such a status, or else it hurts their honor.

A couple on a date in Thamel, Kathmandu. Lama’s Cafe.

I first saw her early in 2010, must have been March, for the winter had just ended, and I had just moved from Kathmandu into Dhanghadi, the small town in the far west of Nepal where I was to stay for the next two years. I still loved watching football back then, and wouldn’t miss a weekend match for anything. (Now, I don’t even know what a ball looks like!) So I went to a cable company to subscribe, and I saw her at the reception. She had large eyes, a little unusual for a Nepali girl, and long eyelashes, which weren’t fake. I was still single at that time, so you ladies should not think I am a macho-monster, but I was just beginning research into this Untouchable Love documentary. I was clueless about the dating habits of Nepalis. I had read a bit about it, but I thought I would learn more if I actually dated a Nepali girl.

Now, at that time, I had already received a fare share of marriage proposals, being a foreigner, some parents wanted to arrange for me to marry their daughters, or some boys offered me their sisters, and I even got a girl who offered me her mother. But when I saw this girl (let’s call her Sweta), I thought to myself, ‘Wow, if they offer her to me, I won’t refuse!’

She seemed to take an instant liking to me as well. Oh well, she didn’t. It’s just because she had probably never met an African in person, and was excited by it. The first question she asked me when I walked into their office was “Have you eaten rice?” I frowned. It was hardly eleven am, and I could not understand why she was asking me if I had eaten. At that time, I was still adjusting to the fact that Nepalis eat lunch at about 10am, and breakfast (or a snack) at 1pm. All through my two years there, I never got used to it, and I would go to a restaurant at about 1pm and ask for lunch, and they would tell me they only have breakfast. Well, so this girl asks me, “Have you eaten rice?”, and at that time, I didn’t know it was a form of greeting. Instead of, a “Hello”, or maybe “How is your morning?” they go “Have you eaten?” And my innocent reply was, “No, I haven’t eaten. But if you cook for me, I’ll eat.”

In broken Nepali. I wasn’t fluent yet at that time. But she was thrilled that I could speak her language, and it probably helped my intentions as well, for she at once offered to come to my dera to cook for me. Being shy, I balked. Her boldness surprised me. I had yet to learn that Nepali girls did not beat around the bush. If they want to cook for you for the rest of their life, they will tell you so, even if they do not yet know your name. So we got talking, for about thirty minutes, and at the end of it, she agreed to go out with me for tea.

A rickshaw puller taking a rest.
Danghadi main street during rush hour.

A date. So easily! I begun to think that Nepal is indeed a man’s heaven. (Honest man seeking marriage, not randy one-night-standers :-o) I couldn’t understand why so many men in their thirties were still unmarried. It was a Sunday, the first working day of the week. I suggested we have tea on, Monday, but she said no. She had to go to school. She was at a local university. Well, then I said Tuesday, and she told me outright, Tuesday is a bad day to visit, especially if it is for the first time. (I later learnt that a married woman cannot visit her parents on Tuesday, or if she has been staying at her parent’s, she cannot go back to her husband on a Tuesday.) It was a bad luck day to have a first date, thus we settled for Wednesday.

The time came. 4pm. I took a rickshaw from my dera in Hasanpur 5, but i did not know where we were going. I called her, and she tried to tell me over the phone, but I could not understand her directions. I asked, is it Shalom Restuarant? It was a favorite of mine, near Raato Phul (Red Bridge). ‘No’ she said. ‘Give the rickshaw driver the phone.’ She then instructed him on where to take me.

We rode. We passed Raato Phul, and for a moment I thought we were going to Bells Cafe, which after Hotel Devotee was the classiest cafe in town. It served Chinese, Japanese and Indian dishes, alongside Nepali dishes. It was pricey as hell, but airconditioned. I thought it would be a nice spot for a first date. We did not stop there. We continued, and I thought we were going to the next best place, something on a rooftop with gold fish in a tank. I forget it’s name. It has ‘garden’ in it though, and was opposite Nabil Bank. Will look it up. But we stopped before we reached there. The rickshaw man pointed out a shop to me. And the first sign that it was going to be a bad date struck me. A shop? A hardware shop?

A waiter in Shalom Restuarant, Danghadi, showing off
her mehendi. Superstition has it that the darker the heena,
the more your husband loves (or will love) you.

Maybe, I thought, it’s just a first stop, a meeting place, before we go to a real restaurant, a cozy cafe somewhere for that nice cup of Nepali tea. I walk into the restaurant and there she is, petit, large eyes, smiling brilliantly, in spite of the dust from cement. Her uncle sat next to her. He welcomed me, offered me a sit, and all the while I thought we would just say hellos and get going. Then the uncle asked a boy to bring us tea. A twelve year old boy. He came with tea in small glasses.

Is this it? I asked myself. A date in a hardware shop? Amid metals and bags of cement and all sorts of plumbing material? That was not the worst bit. There were about six workers in the shop. They all crowded around us, staring at me in excitement, waiting to listen to whatever we were going to talk about.

Her uncle then told me, “Why are you not talking? Tell her things!”

With six people listening? I didn’t even know what ‘things’, he was talking about, but it sure wasn’t the small talk on Uganda, and the weather in Uganda, that they wanted to hear about. When the Uncle said this, everyone fell silent, waiting for my next words.

“He is shy,” the girl said. “You know foreigners don’t like talking in people.”

“Okay okay,” the uncle said. “I’ll take you upstairs.”

A street cafe. Might have been a better venue for a date.

‘Upstairs’ was an unfinished floor above the shop. The dust made me cough. We sat on dusty crates, and I thought the uncle would now leave us alone, but he walked about, pretending to do clean up the place, while his ears were tuned to the conversation we were having. I don’t even remember anymore what we talked about. I don’t think I remembered anything soon after I left that hardware shop. I sure did not say the ‘things’ the uncle expected me to tell her.

Still, I must have impressed the girl, or rather she was determined to cook for me for the rest of her life. She asked to come to my dera the next day! She did come, but I’m going to save that story until the next post. I have to sleep now. Be sure to return to read it.

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Three Stories on Amazon

It’s been an exciting year for me, as a writer. I got shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize, and then longlisted for the Short Story Day Africa. I’ve heard two books out in print, and two short stories to appear in anthologies, one is already out, the other coming in December. Busy, busy year, and I expect next year will be even busier. Which unfortunately might mean less blogging :((

So here are the books. They went up on amazon at nearly the same time, the first being in September and two this month. The Terminal Move. A novelette, written in a genre I loved so much as a boy, and which I still think is my niche. It’s basically a zombie tale, but set in Africa from way back in time, before the nations as we know them today were formed. Which makes it a fantasy as well. Take a peak at an interview I did for the publisher here.

And here is the blurb for the novelette.

For years the Jolabong people have wandered across the world, looking for a new home. Torn apart by war and famine, they have all but given up. But it is in the fiery motivation of Laceng, a rebellious youth of the tribe, that the delicate future of the Jolabong is poised. Together with his band of insurgents, Laceng marches into a valley of plenty – but what he finds there is worse than any threat his tribe has ever faced.
In this gripping tale of death, life and reins of power, Dilman Dila delivers a narrative reminiscent of the ancient oral traditions of Africa. A Commonwealth Short Story 2013 shortlisted author, Dila delivers yet again in the poignant and exquisitely crafted THE TERMINAL MOVE.

Cranes Crest at Sunset

I surprised myself with writing this one. It was an experiment in romance. I’d never written in that genre before, but shortly after returning from Nepal, with my head still full of the love stories that I had gathered while making my first feature documentary, Untouchable Love, and with my heart growing fond of a Filipino bombshell, I just had to write a love story. Shortly after I finished it, I saw a call for manuscripts from a Kenyan publisher. They want to start an East African version of Mills and Boon. I submitted, wondering if my little story would fit their criteria, and it surprisingly did. So here it is, available on kindle.

The blurb.
Kabita, a beautiful Nepali doctor escapes from an arranged marriage to serve in a remote village in rural Uganda. In this village, she hopes to put to rest the haunting memories of her forbidden love and shattered past. But the peace she so desperately seeks seems elusive now, as she finds herself falling in love with Steven, a handsome African herdsman. Is she foolish to reject the advances of a fellow doctor for an idle herdsman painter? And is Steven really what he seems to be? Should she follow her heart or mind? Will Kabita finally find joy or will her dreams be shattered again? This is an intense love story set in rural Uganda


The third is in a collection of short stories, called the African Roar 2013. It’s another horror fantasy story, about a puppeteer I used to know in my hometown when I was a little kid. Not that the puppeteer was evil. He was a great guy, but my childhood imagination fed me all sorts of crap about him, and when I became a writer I just had to write that story. We used to hear all sorts of stuff concerning the guy, he was a mystery, no one knew where he came from and some people claimed he walked from Kinshasha to Mombasa dragging his cart, staging shows. Such urban legend stuff became the spine of this story. The Puppets of Maramudhu. I should write more about him later.

Well, so here they are, three stories from Uganda, from some of the finest publishers in Africa today. It’s not often that you find Ugandan fiction on Amazon, and I’ve heard of many foreigners in the country looking for something Ugandan to read, and not finding anything. This should be a start. Hopefully many other Ugandan writers will pick tips and have their works put up on Amazon.

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Quick recipes for a love-hunting bachelor

Food will bring love to your heart.
They say that the way into a man’s heart is through his stomach, and that the best way to get into a woman’s pants is through her mouth! Ah, so food has great romantic values. It is the essence of every relationship, and if you are looking at a girl whose heart you want to win, food can fast forward your dating past the boring stuff and straight into the bed stuff. Of course, what every man does is to take her out to the fancy restaurants and impress her with fine dining and seven course meals and wine. But I’m going to tell you a secret. You can save yourself all that money and thrill her with a meal in your bachelor pad. Women totally love men who can cook. Pans will get you into her pants. Pots make her hot. Ahem, before I offend women here, let me rephrase. The easiest way for a man to get a woman to love him and be his wife is for him to cook for her a really good meal.
When you cook for a woman, the message you are sending is that you are a sensitive fellow. That you will not overwork her with household chores. That every once in a while she will kick off her shoes, lounge on the sofa with her legs on the coffee table, reading a newspaper or watching TV, while you fight with pots in the kitchen. It also means that you care for her, and that you treat her like a good dish, that is, you will be patient with her, take things slow, and you will not be interested only in appetizers but want to go the whole way to the desert and the nap after the meal.
The only problem is that most men do not know how to cook. Which is why I’m writing this post. I will give you a few tips on how to make meals that sound exotic, look romantic, and will make her believe you are the greatest chef on earth. I guess a woman reading this can also pretend to be a good cook to impress the man. So here are the dishes.
Tip. When you are telling the girl you will prepare her a meal, use exotic and classy sounding names. Use words that are not common in the area. For example, if you are in a place where they say spaghetti or macaroni, tell her you will make her chowmein (which is how it’s called in many Asian countries) or lasagna.
A man hawks grilled chicken at the roadside. Mabira, Uganda
Shredded chicken
This should be number one on the list. It’s a Chinese dish. It will make the girl think you have class. Yet making it is so simple you will wonder why you haven’t yet done it. In fact, you do not need to cook this one at all. You can buy the rice from a restaurant and then get the grilled chicken from the roadside, sneak into the kitchen when the girl isn’t watching and perform the magic.
1 roasted chicken
2 plates boiled rice (one for you, one for the girl)
2 tomatoes
1 cucumber
2 carrots. Cabbages. Soy sauce.  Salad cream.
Method. Cut the grilled chicken into tiny shreds. Slice up the tomatoes, cucumber, carrots and cabbages, and mix them with the chicken shreds (basically, you are making salads). Pour salad cream on the stuff. Pour soy sauce (a Chinese/East Asian thing) over the boiled rice, and serve! Man, I promise you, she will take off her pants without you asking her to do it!
Tip: You can use the same trick to make sweet and sour fish. Simply buy deep fried fish from the roadside, or stewed fish, and re-cook it, but this time, add pineapples.
This is a Nepali dish. It is mostly made for sick people, but she doesn’t have to know that. Just tell her this is a dish from a country called Nepal. Most women, being easily impressionable, will not bother to google and find out the truth. They will want to believe you (just as they believe everything you tell them until you make them really angry and then they will not believe anything you say.) I like this dish because you do not have to do a lot of work to have a meal. Basically, it’s like this; you dump all the ingredients into a pressure cooker, wait for it to whistle three times, turn off the gas, and bingo, you have a meal! What can be easier than that? But for those who love recipes, here are the guidelines: D
A roadside chef (in apron). He must have many wives!
1 cup of Rice
1 cup of lentils (or peas, or beans, or any seeds)
1 onion
3 ripe tomatoes
2 table spoons of ghee
 8 Irish potatoes (ha, that is the small type, not the sweet potatoes. Many people are often surprised when they hear Ugandans calling potatoes Irish. I wonder how it started, but well, that’s how we differentiate between the small, tasteless potatoes and the big sweet ones here in Uganda.)
Method: Throw the ghee onto a pan. Cut up the onions and dump them into the hot ghee. Let it turn golden brown. Pour in squashed tomatoes (Just put the tomatoes in a bowl, squash them with your fingers). Wait until it has cooked into a paste. Dump in the sliced potatoes, the lentils, and the rice. Add appropriate amount of water. A cup should be okay. Then wait for the cooker to whistle three times, and bingo, you have your meal!
Eggy plants
This one is my very own invention. I should get a copyright for it before some chef out there steals it and claims he came up with it. There is nothing easier to cook than egg plants, but these are really tasteless. So what did I do? I added in eggs. Here is how.
4 eggplants,
2 eggs
3 ripe tomatoes
1 onion
2 spoons of vegetable oil
2 cups of boiled rice
Method: First boil the rice. Do not bother with any fancy tricks. Put it in a pressure cooker, wait for it to whistle three times, and there you are! Boiled rice. Needless to say, the pressure cooker is a bachelor’s best friend. If you do not have one, go buy it at once. Once you have the rice, now make the eggy plants. Fry the onions in the vegetable oil until golden brown. Throw in squashed tomatoes. The cut up the egg plants into tiny cubes and boil for about ten minutes in a cup of water. When it has turned soft and purplish, throw in the egg and stir. The egg will form a thick paste. You should have the meal ready in less than fifteen minutes!
Many ways to make egg plants look exotic and sexy!
This is Reiza’s cooking. 🙂 And below is my cooking 🙂
Groundnut paste, ntula, carrots, boiled rice. Looks yummy!
 Stewed sausages.
Another trick of mine. When I’m too lazy to grill or deep fry the sausages, I stew them, often with egg plants, or cabbages, or beans, or some kind of vegetable. They look exotic once served.
1 cup fresh beans (or peas, or any vegetables)
4 sausages
2 tomatoes
1 onion
50grams of butter
Method: Fry the onions in butter until golden brown. Squash the tomatoes and add it to the onions. Add the beans (or peas, or vegetables). Slice the pineapples into cubes and throw it in. Finally, add the sausages, which you should slice into little round things to make them look different from normal sausages. Serve with rice, or sweet potatoes, or ugali.
Sweet and sour fish at Great Chinese Wall Restaurant Kampala
 Honeyed hot lemon
This one is not a meal, but a drink. It will knock her out, though it’s a soft drink. There is nothing like the taste of honey and hot lemons on a chilly night!
½ lemon
1 litre of water
Method: Squeeze the lemon into the water and bring to boil. Pour into glasses. Drop in honey until the color of the drink is dark, or as much as you like!
Ginger warmer
Another drink. Real sexy. Beats the hell out of offering her a soda, or a beer, or even wine. Great for a chilly evening.
½ lemon
1 slice of ginger
1 litre of water
Method: Crash the ginger and put it in water. Squeeze the lemon into the water. Bring to boil. Pour into glasses. Drop in honey until the color of the drink is dark, or as much as you like!
Okay, I better stop here, because I’m hungry, just thinking about these things. I need to make supper, and someone is coming tomorrow. She is coming tomorrow!
PS: I am a great cook, but when you are in a relationship with a master chef like this Pinoy girl, man you have to stay away from the kitchen. She hardly ever lets me cook for her because I always forget to put in the salt, or I easily get distracted and let the food gets burnt. But she says she doesn’t care if a man can cook or not, what she really cares about is that he should wash the dishes after she has cooked. Hmmm. Gender equality? But that tip I’ll leave it for another blog.
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The Great African Love Bus


Welcome to He Says, She Says Sundays! A battle of the sexes. Two different opinions on a jointly enjoyed experience! Have fun reading them both! 


He says: 
The idea of traveling by bus from Kampala to Mombasa seemed romantic. But I did not know it would turn out to be like something from a Robert James Waller novel! When I mention The Bridges of Madison County, it does not mean I met a forty-something year old farmer’s wife who was looking for Prince Charming. I had a princess right by my side when I set off from Kampala. But with all the cameras dangling on my neck, I did feel like a younger version of Robert Kincaid who is courageous enough to steal Francesca from the sexless and passionless farm, and that dreary life in Madison County, and run away with her to live as wanderers, not knowing where tomorrow will find us. 
I did not think of that analogue as we set off, but twenty four hours on the road made me think of that fictitious NatGeo photographer. And there being very few toilet breaks, it seemed even longer. It was the longest bus ride I had ever taken in my life. But the decision not to fly was a good one, because for a tenth of an air ticket, I got the adventure of my lifetime and a free safari through the game parks of Kenya!
We took Queen’s Coach, which turned out to be the real deal. It was much more comfortable than we had imagined. It was squeaky clean, air-conditioned, and the seats were spacious comfortable. We got a feeling we were in a plane. It set off at 8 pm on the dot, the speed was steady, the driver careful. We wished it was taking us all the way to Mombasa. They even served snacks on board, which completed the illusion that we were on a plane.
A food stop on Mombasa high-way
 The princess had packed a lot of food. Pizza, biscuits, rolex (a Ugandan fast food comprising of chapati and eggs), fruit juice, sodas—so much food that I thought we were going to a party! If you want to know why men are from the sun and women are from moon, just ask them to pack a bag for a trip. She insisted we did not need a lot of clothing. “It’s only for two weeks,” she argued. “Take only three shirts.” Wow, what if they get dirty, madam? “We’ll wash them.” I did not fancy doing laundry on a holiday, but sometimes it is hard to argue with a girl. However, I insisted on packing a sweater. “It’s only taking up space!” and I mentioned that traveling at night requires warm clothing. I was proved right. At three am on the highway, the cold bit into our bones with such ferocity that she stole the only sweater she had allowed us to pack! Being a gentleman, I let her have it.
Brings me back to the amount of food she packed. It beat my understanding, why she preferred to take so little clothing and so much food. When we got into the bus, the food was practically useless, for the Queens coach staff served us with snacks. Coffee or tea? Cakes? Breads? Soda? We had a whole variety to choose from.
And we debated over taking my laptop. She said it was too heavy. But how could I survive for two weeks without my laptop? I tried to point out that if we lighten our load by leaving behind some of that food – of course I did not finish making my point. But I still took the laptop, and she carried it all the way, grumbling about its weight. Poor girl. The moment we reached Mombasa, she was the first to demand using it to update her status on Facebook. I almost said “I told you we’d need it”, but being a gentleman, I simply smiled and let her have her way.
Four hours after setting off from Kampala, we stopped at the border town of Malaba. We bought Kenyan shillings from money-changers with unbelievably cheap rates. On the Ugandan side, the customs people were nice and smiley and did not give us any trouble. But on the Kenyan side, they were nice and smiley and wanted a bribe because I had not carried my Yellow fever certificate. Well, not all of them, just this one policeman who was doing some kind of security check. He saw me traveling with a foreigner and he thought he had fallen into a pot of honey. Luckily, Reiza had hers, otherwise she would have been forced to cough up a hundred dollars in bribes. It happened to her once in Nairobi airport. Since then she learned to carry her yellow fever card whenever facing Kenyan custom officials.
Well, the toilets in Malaba were awful, and expensive to use, so we decided to take our chances avoided them. Turned out to be a bad idea. We did not get a break again for the next seven or so hours, until we were in Naivasha (or was it Nakuru), when the bus stopped for about an hour. Everybody rushed to the bathrooms, then to a nearby restaurant to grab a quick breakfast. (Again, I asked myself, why all that packed food?)
This lady can eat!
Since it was daylight now, the joys of traveling through Kenya by road started to show. First we passed the Rift Valley. The spectacular views were even made more enchanting by the morning mists, with the sun just coming up from behind some distant mountains.
Then, just before reaching Nairobi, we passed a game park. Reiza saw her first zebras that morning. She was frozen in a mixture of excitement and shock, as you can see in the photo. She wanted to tell the bus driver to stop so we could get out and enjoy it all, but she restrained herself. It begun to think of the three hundred dollars she paid for a safari to Murchison falls in Uganda. She did not get to see any zebras then! Yet here she was, on a bus, and there were zebras right on the roadside, grazing gently, unperturbed by the bustle of vehicles on the highway.
I did not exactly capture her reaction to seeing the zebras
but trust me, she screamed that everyone in the bus stared!
By the time we reached Nairobi at about 9am, her excitement had trebled. The bus deposited us near River Road. We did not know Nairobi very well, and were wary of muggers, but we managed to find a bus to Mombasa without much trouble. We picked Mash Poa at random, and it was comfortable enough. Though it had no air-conditioning, which on the road to Mombasa is necessary because we passed through arid areas with the temperatures at nearly 40 degrees, we at least could open the windows. 
The road to Mombasa had more surprises that made her squeal every mile or so, much to the bemusement of the other passengers. However by this time, we were starved of sleep, and were wishing we had rested in Nairobi before proceeding. It being only about eight hours from Nairobi, we thought we could handle it. But we made a wrong decision of setting off from Nairobi at 11am, first because we were on the road in a bus with no AC when the heat of the day was at its worst. A night journey would have been friendly, but that would mean missing out on game. We saw more zebras, and this time giraffes as well, but the best of all sights were the red elephants of Tsavo. We saw three of them standing by the roadside. The bus was too fast, and by then our reflexes was dulled by exhaustion, so we failed to take the photos. We had to content ourselves with the images of the red elephants being burned into our brains for the moment.
Of course, they are not elephants.
But you see my point about animals by the roadside.
We reached Mombasa at about 6pm, and our second mistake struck us. We should have timed our departure from Nairobi properly. This was Friday, and we ran into the worst jam I’ve ever experienced. It took us more than two and a half hours to get into Mombasa town from its outskirts. By that time, after more than twenty four hours on the road, all I wanted was to sleep. I nearly cried in frustration, and in pain for I was dying to pee, but there was nothing we could do other than endure. We finally took a taxi to Nirvana Backpackers and at least the accommodation there was so comfortable we fell asleep before we knew it.

Even before we became an item, Dilman and I were tickled by this idea of a road trip around Africa, filming our experiences along the way in the hopes of baking a mean documentary and whipping a bestseller. You know, two strangers travelling together for six months. Will they fall in love or beg the gods to not let their paths cross ever again? Weave in the inter-racial thread in the picture, and you get yourself a money-making venture, people!


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An African thief finds a wife

This story is fictional, inspired by this photo
of the love of my life.
In spite of the thermal underwear, the cold dug into his bones and froze him in a bleak mood. The sun tried to smile from beyond the mountains, but her frigid rays could not cheer him up. He longed for Africa, where the sun shone all year with the sweet warmth of a lover.
He decided to go back home immediately after searching the last temple. The whole trip had turned out to be a complete waste of time and money. A friend had deceived him that the temples of Kathmandu were littered with golden statues. It would be an easy job. Sneak in. Steal a few. Flee back home a millionaire. How foolish he felt when he discovered that the golden statues were not made of gold. Still, he hoped that the last item on his list, the Chandeswori temple had a roof of pure gold as one book claimed. So he ignored the cold and hurried to this temple.
On the way, in ancient streets of Old Banepa, he saw her.
He rubbed his eyes in disbelief. She sat stark naked in the street, fondling a sarangi, which hid her nakedness from his view. Her smile made her face to sparkle like a million stars. It warmed him in a way the sun failed to. He could not breathe. He swayed in a drunken swoon. Why is she sitting in the street with only a musical instrument to cloth her? Can’t she feel the cold?
Her hair fell over her face so that he could see only one eye, which glistened with the smile on her mouth as she looked right back at him. Heat gushed through his veins with such speed that his heart beat with the wild rhythm of Acholi war drums.
“Do you like her?” a voice shattered his reverie.
He jumped with a frightened squeal and turned to face a man whose clothes were splotched with paint. He might have been a painter. He had come out of a tea shop.
African tourists in Chandeswori temple in Banepa.
Legend has it that once upon a time, the roof was
made of pure gold.
“Hi!” the African screeched with embarrassment.
“Do you like her?”
“You can have her for eight thousand only.”
Eight thousand? So little for so beautiful a girl! The African dashed into his pockets for the rupees, but he stopped, realizing something wrong with the girl. She sat so still, like a picture, and even the breeze didn’t ruffle her long hair. Is she some kind of religious freak in meditation? Is she a painting?
The realization hit him with such force that his stupidity became as clear as the smile on her face. He ran over to her, touched her cold skin of canvas, and nodded to acknowledge the work of a genius artist.
“Did you paint her?”
His heart still beat. Though she was merely a picture, he was in love. He wanted to take her home and kiss – maybe, as it happened in fairy tales, his kiss would turn her into a real person.
More paintings, of mountains and rural landscapes, hang inside the tea shop. All ordinary work. He wanted this girl. But why pay eight thousand rupees when he could return at night and take her for free? Maybe he will sell her in Paris for a million dollars. Isn’t she equal to Monalisa? Maybe his gods led him to Nepal, not to steal golden statues but this girl.
He licked his lips, still feeling dizzy like a drunk. He could not take his eyes off her smile, her smooth skin, her sarangi – it reminded him of Toni Braxton’s Spanish Guitar, and so he named the painting ‘Nepali Sarangi’. He loved the way her hair fell over her face to hide one eye, the way only four teeth showed in her smile. Her enchanting smile.
“Did you just imagine her, or is she a real person? Maybe your sister, ugh?”
“Yes! Yes!”
“Yes what? Is she imaginary?”
“No! Imaginary no. Real. Look!”
The artist showed him a photo in a mobile phone. If he had looked carefully, he might have noticed that it was a photo of a very old photo, but the veil of love fell over his eyes. He had to meet her, to marry her, to take her back home.
“You like her?”
The African smiled like a bewitched prince. He knew that in Nepali culture, people preferred arranged marriages. No dating, no love, no fooling around with the heart. The bride and groom meet for the first time on their wedding day.
“E-e!” the artist giggled like a teenage girl. “You like her very much!”
“Is she – maybe – married?”
“She? No. No. Not married. Are you married?”
“Me? No. Never.”
“Do you want to marry with her?”
 The African could not believe his good luck. It was like Juliet’s father placing a hand over Romeo’s shoulders and asking, ‘do you want to marry her? We can arrange it now!’
A Nepali bride in Chandeswori temple
“Can you arrange it?”
“Yes! Yes! No problem! I talk her! She agree! No problem!”
“Just like that?”
“Yes! She my mother.”
“Your mother?”
“No. Not real mother. My mother’s sister, but I call her mother.”
“How old is she?”
The artist laughed, but did not answer that question. “Where are you from?”
“America,” the African said without hesitation. He wanted them to not only think that he was very rich, but once he took her home, they would never hear from him again, or see their pretty girl. “I’m from USA. Obama is my uncle.”
“O-hoo!” the artist’s mouth became round in shock. When he had recovered, he added, “In your country, first love, then marriage. Here, first marriage, then love. She very faithful. She never leave you.”
The African could hear the girl playing the sarangi, a tune so sweet that he floated in the clouds. But she is just a picture. First, he had to meet her, study her, and then decide whether to marry her. Yet he had no time. He could not afford to stay in Nepal for another week. And this girl was a better prize than all the golden statues of the world.
“She widow,” the artist said. “Two day after marriage, her husband go to fight. You know Gurkha? He soldier. She play for him sarangi before he go. It is last time they together. In our culture, woman cannot marry two times. She very sad. She want marry to another man her but no man take her.”
“Stupid Nepali men.”
“But you bidesh, hoina? You habsi. You take her! No problem.”
For two days, he stayed in the artist’s home as they arranged for the wedding. He promised the artist a lot of money, so the artist ran around to make it happen in two days. Luckily, it was the wedding month.
The day came. He endured so many Hindu rituals like a zombie. They spoke to him in a strange language. The artist was not always available to interpret, so he did whatever they gestured at him to do. At one point, he found himself sitting beside a grandmother dressed up as a bride.
He thought it funny.
A grandmother so old she had no teeth, all dressed up like a bride. She sat beside him, smiling. He knew that smile for he had seen it on the girl. Maybe this is her grandmother.
He thought they were doing something similar to the kwanjula ceremony back home, where the bride’s family parade many girls for the groom to pick, but the groom has to reject all until they reveal the real bride. So maybe this grandmother is a customary surrogate until the time is right for the bride to appear.
In a strange way, it all started with this story 🙂
Time passed. The bride did not show up. He grew impatient. Night came. The dancing started. Though he did not understand what was happening, he knew people dance only after the marriage. But where is his bride? Nervous, he asked the artist.
“What you mean?” the artist said.
“I want to see the girl?”
“Eh!” the artist seemed truly shocked. “You not seen her?” He pointed at the grandmother. “Her?”
The African looked at the old woman, at the toothless and wrinkled smile that in the picture had set him alight with a fire of a thousand suns.
“I paint her photo – old, old photo, what she look like when still young.”
The African felt a bitter dryness in his mouth as he discovered he was a character in a badly written joke. A corny joke that nevertheless knocked him out with the sheer force of its obviousness.
“What’s the problem?” the grandmother asked the artist. “Why is he troubled?”
“Nothing,” the artist said.
“Is he worried that I did it?”
“Tell him I didn’t.”
“I have never done it! Tell him!”

So the artist turned to the African with a big smile and said, “Good news for you, my friend. She say her husband die before they – you know. She’s still a virgin.”

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You May Also Like:
Will You Marry Me?
The Magic Song
the fun of dating in Nepal
Water! Water! I’m burning up!
Love and prejudice

The Troubled Children of Uganda

Street children begging in Kampala.
Broken family values is largely responsible for this.
To continue the story of the pregnant girl and the monster teacher (read it here), I agreed to be her father. She wanted to make money out of a man who had impregnated her, and she wanted me to pretend being her father. She was only fourteen years old, and I battled with my conscience over what I was doing. But I was thinking of a documentary film about the troubled children of Uganda today, about parents who fail to handle rebellious teenagers, about the breakdown of family values, which has left children at the mercy of forces beyond their control. 
I thought being this girl’s father would give me an opportunity to use the cinéma vérité technique, I being part of the story, giving the audience a candid ‘insiders’ view of the happenings. It was a scoop. A pregnant teenager. A monster teacher who preys on his students. But before I could proceed, I had to verify the pregnancy, so I suggested a test.
“What for?” the girl said. “He did me without a condom. I’m vomiting every morning. I have missed my periods. Why then should I take a test? If you don’t want to be part of the deal just tell us.”
“Don’t talk like that,” Nalongo, who got me involved in this whole saga, and who would pretend to be her mother, said. “He is right. You need to take a test to be absolutely certain.”
Tales are rife of women who pretend to be pregnant just to get the man to marry them. It had crossed my mind that this girl might just be putting up a show in order to grab money from this teacher. I did not want to be part of such a scheme. I had to be absolutely certain she was pregnant. The girl did not argue much. She agreed to take a test. I thought it would be nice to film her as she went to the pharmacy to get a testing kit, to capture the tests and her reaction to the results on video, so I ran back home and picked up my camera, but she was not impressed. 
“Do you want to put me on agataliko nfuufu?” This is a news program that relies on community reporting. They do not use any professional journalists. Anyone anywhere with a camera, even if it is on a mobile phone, can shoot anything amusing and submit it. They thus feature very absurd but entertaining stories. It put a fear on the common people, for whenever they see a camera they at once think someone is trying to make news for agataliko nfuufu
I tried to explain my purpose to this little girl  – child rights, broken family values, monster teachers, the great divide between parents and teenagers – but she could not comprehend anything. It struck me that the best place to tell her my purposes was not in the dusty street, with people casting us curious glances. I should have done it before we set off. So I shut down the camera and we walked to the pharmacy, hoping to get her to understand my purpose before she took the test.
“Why do you want to take a test?” the lady behind the counter asked the young girl, who in reply gave her a big grin and a giggle. 
Forced child labor, one of the issues I will tackle in this film.
“Well,” the girl said, “You see, I have a little goat at home and I want to know if it is pregnant.”
The pharmacist was not amused. She turned to me, her lips pursed in anger. “Did you pregnant her?”
“NO!” I screamed. “I don’t sleep with goats!”
The girl chuckled. There were several other people in the pharmacy. They overhead my protest and cast me a curious glance, as though to say ‘You protest too much!’  
“You think you can fool me with your stupid goat story?” the lady barked at me. “Aren’t you ashamed to sleep with little girls? She’s young enough to be your daughter! Are there no old women for you to play with?” 
The anger on her face indicated that she had not been laid for a really long time. She was the bulky type – extra big breasts, too big that they looked like she had stuffed herself with a lot of clothing to make them look that big. Her waist line indicated she had given birth ten times or more. She looked over forty, though with her size it was hard to tell. Since I have a perverted writer’s mind, I started to imagine what it would be like for a man to mount a trailer-like being like this one. Will he be able to find her hole, or will he poke the area around her thighs and think he has found it? Won’t she squash him if she went on top? Will the bed break because of too much vibration from this giant? She reminded me of a horror film I once saw, in which a band of youth found a monstrous, vampire animal in bed and it seduced them into banging her. Of course, every boy who had sex with her turned into a vampire. As I stood there looking at her, I did imagine that she could be a great character for a horror-erotic tale.
“Are you jealous?” the girl asked her.
“Me? Jealous? Of what?”

“You are already old,” the girl said. “Why should you be jealous that I’m getting a lot of it while men ignore you?” I clamped my palm on her mouth, but she wriggled away and continued to taunt the woman. “You are old and shapeless! No man can enjoy you! Don’t be jealous of me! I’ll give you advice. Use bananas. They are better than men and they don’t make you pregnant!”

The pharmacy suddenly fell silent. Everyone turned to the girl. The woman was puffing up in anger and I was sure she would explode like a pricked balloon. As bad luck would have it, a policeman walked into the shop as that very moment, and the fat woman at once shouted at him.
“Ah! You came at the right time officer! This man has defiled and impregnated this young girl!”
Next thing I knew, I was in Seeta police post, facing a uniformed officer who had such a huge belly that he was not able to button his shirt. He left it hanging open, a dirty looking vest concealing his obscene tummy. An odor wafted from his armpits, but luckily, a ceiling fan blew it out of the window so I did not have to suffer like the characters in The Felistas Fable.  
“You will go to jail for seven years,” the policeman said. “Defilement, or sex with a minor, is a capital offense. You might even be sentenced to death.” He had introduced himself as the OC, the officer in charge of the police post. All I saw was an officer in charge of corruption. “But it depends on how you want to handle it.”
Street children ‘bounce’ past uncaring adults in Kampala.
Their tale is one of parents failing to cope with teenagers.
 “I don’t even know the girl’s name,” I said.
“Really? Then how did you seduce her? Is she a prostitute?”
“I did not seduce her!”
“So why do you want her to test for pregnancy?”
They had seen my camera. They had heard my story already, but like many other Ugandans, they do not understand the concept of a creative documentary. They asked me, ‘Which NGO is funding it?’ ‘It is for TV news? Which TV? Show us your ID.’ When I could not prove that I was working for an NGO, or any TV station, it confirmed to them my guilt.
To make matters worse, the girl had escaped. She fled the moment the cop pounced on me. I did not know her names, or where she came from. 
“We are human beings,” the policeman said. “Talk to us, we shall understand. Just kitu kidogo will be able to clear your name.”
I was so broke, having just finished making The Felistas Fable, that I could not afford the smallest of bribes, not even of ten thousand shillings for that would make me starve for two days. My only option seemed to be with Nalongo. She would testify on my behalf and save me.
But when she heard I was in police hands, she refused to come. She switched off her phone, closed her shop and vanished. She has since migrated from the area. Her flight tended to confirm my earlier suspicions that this whole thing was a scam.
So there I was, in the police station facing a fictitious crime, victim unknown. I haggled with the policemen for nearly six hours. Eventually, they let me go, but I was fifty thousand shillings poorer. I cursed all the way back home. I had lost enough money to feed me for five days. 
The street child rapper, Razor Blade, performing in a night club
Still, the incident sowed the seeds of a story. I then proceeded to find other characters, and so far I have a street child who wants to be a music star. He is a talented rapper who goes by the names Razor Blade. He ran away from home following a disagreement with his parents. I have not yet got the full story, but it surely fits the theme of broken families and parent-teenager disconnect in Uganda today. 
And the time spent in the police post was not entirely wasted. I heard about two other pregnant girls (one also by her teacher, the other by a fellow teenager). If I play my cards well, one of them will end up in the film. I hope it is the girl who got defiled by her teacher.
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Randy pregnant girl and the Beastly Teacher

Who will protect the little girls of Africa?
Shortly after Christmas, I became a father – or rather, I nearly became one. I do not know how to put it exactly. I did not know I was old enough to be a teenage girl’s father. She must be sixteen, or maybe fourteen. I could not really tell. I had never met her before.
I spent Christmas holed up in my little office, behind the laptop, sometimes putting finishing touches on my first feature film, The Felistas Fable, other times rewriting my first romance novella, which will hopefully come out later this year. I was feeling bad about myself that I had made a feature film before publishing a book, and that the first book I’d ever publish is a romance. Or rather the publisher thinks it’s a romance and I was not seeing it like that at all. Anyway, being holed up with two big works on the desk meant I had not shaved for a long time. Maybe I thought was Father Christmas and so had to grow a really long and unkempt beard, and maybe that beard made this girl think I could be her father.
I was on my way to the saloon, but I stopped by this little shop where I always buy petty stuff to get airtime. I found the girl sitting on the bench, her face stained with tears. I asked her what the problem was, but she ignored me. So I turned to the shopkeeper, a lady we all call Nalongo, though I’ve never seen her twins. I do not even think she has a husband, but a few children are always running around her shop. Maybe she divorced the father and the twins are with him. I’ve never really found out.
“Did you beat this young girl?” I asked her.
Youth in Moroto doing the courtship dance at school.
Does such increase teenage sexual activities?
“No,” she replied. “She only wants a soda. It is Christmas and she hasn’t tasted any soda. You know how children are during Christmas.”
“Ah,” was all I managed to say, as I passed over the money and got the air time cards. I glanced at the girl, the way you glance at a person who you’ve just been told has a few lose wires in the head, and I saw the fury in her eyes. Why is she angry with me, I thought, yet it is Nalongo who made the joke?

“I’m not a child,” she hissed, still glaring at me. “And I don’t want a soda.”

Girls Education Movement Club in Kitgum perform a drama in support of pregnant girls who return to school.
A character in the film The Young Ones Who Won’t Stay Behind. She walked miles everyday to get to school, proving the point that no matter a child’s character, they love school.

Tears rolled down her face, revealing the great volume of emotions that were pent up inside her. I could not stand it. So I simply nodded and begun to walk away. But hardly had I taken a few steps than she said, “Wait.”

I waited. She said something to Nalongo that I did not get, for she whispered. They talked amidst themselves for a few seconds, and I stood there sheepishly, not knowing what to do. Finally, Nalongo turned to me and asked, “Where are you going?”
“To shave.”
“Don’t shave. Just for a few days. You look better with your hair like that.” I did not want to look
into the mirror for I was afraid of the animal I would see. I know this Pinoy girl would be pissed off to see me with such a wild crop of mousy hair on my head, and with such scraggy beards on my chin that I might have been a monkey (Do monkey’s have beards? Maybe not. Maybe a goat.) So whatever she said, I was resolved to get a shave. “We need your help.”
“You do?”
“Please be my father?” This came from the girl, and it was so outrageous that I giggled (like a teenage girl).

I could be Father Christmas, I thought, since the beards were long. But clearly, the way the girl looked at me she was not thinking of Father Christmas. Nalongo came over to me and whispered the situation. The girl was pregnant. A teacher – her ex teacher from Mukono High School – was responsible. She did not want to abort. She wanted to make the teacher pay a large sum of money that would not only cater for her medical and pregnancy needs, but also pay for a course in beauty and hairdressing. The part I was to play was simple. Pretend to be her father. Scream at the teacher and threaten to throw him into jail unless he parted with three million shillings.

But I did not want to play that part. I’m not the screaming type. I’m not the belligerent type. I am not able to intimidate a fly, anyone who meets me for half a minute will be able to figure that out. I could not do what this girl and Nalongo were asking me. “Why don’t you just go to the police and arrest the man? That way, he will pay ten million if you ask for it.”

But she could not go to the police for it would involve her real parents. Then, she would not see even a shilling of the money the teacher paid. Her parents and the police would distribute it amongst themselves, the teacher would go scot free, and she would be left to suffer with the baby for the rest of her life. The best way out for her was if this teacher put the money in her hands. That way, she could be sure of making a life for herself. Apparently, her father refused to pay for her education after he found her naked with a boyfriend in the bathroom. (Her father refused to listen to her excuse, “We were only playing.”) She had developed a reputation as a loose girl, so her father did not see the point in educating a prostitute. She did strike me as the typical rebellious teenager who thinks it is cool to drink, smoke weed and go night clubbing in Gabana and Satellite Beach Mukono. I did not know why I should ever get involved with such a character. I did not even know her names.

Please Daddy don’t get angry. We were just playing

“Please,” Nalongo said. “Help the girl. I know you don’t know her, but I was once her neighbor in Bajo. That is where she stays. She calls me aunt. She is a good girl and I want her to overcome this situation. After her parents see that she is putting herself through beauty school, they might tolerate the pregnancy, but if they know about it right now they might kill her.”

I looked at the girl again, expecting to see a bulge in her tummy, but I did not see anything. No sign to show that she was pregnant. I wrestled with the decision. I often think of myself as a social activist. It’s the first line I write whenever I’m sending out a grant application for my documentary films. I describe myself as a filmmaker and social activist. So what was I going to do about this little girl?
My storytelling instincts took over. Maybe I could make a documentary about her, a film about defilement and horrible teachers who prey on their students, about ‘swaggerific’ teenagers and parents who have no clue how to handle them, who think stopping to pay their school fees is the only way to discipline a child. I could see a whole big issue there to work with, but I had to be certain of the facts. Was she really pregnant, and was this teacher really responsible?
“I’ve been vomiting every morning for three days,” she said. “I missed my periods. This teacher is the only person I’ve slept with in the last six months.” She paused, then added. “Without a condom.”
“Oh,” I said. It kind of made sense. I was going to suggest that she actually takes a pregnancy test, but somehow the words did not come out. All I could think about was that she had slept with other boys (how many?) using condoms, and I remember the old saying that condoms are not really perfect. So it might not be the teacher. What kind of film then would I make?
“He told me he could put my name on the USE list,” she went on, unprompted, and tears were rolling down her face afresh. USE. Universal Secondary Education. A government program to provide free education. If she got her name in, she could continue going to school even if her parents no longer paid her fees. “I agreed to sleep with him. I have never slept with an old person before but I wanted to at least finish A Level.”
Will a documentary I make keep the smiles on their faces?
Of course with the baby coming, she could no longer pursue this dream. She had to drop out. Being wise, she of a skill to support herself – thus beauty school.
As I watched the tears roll down her cheeks, a selfish part of my brain wished I had a camera to preserve the moment. Unfortunately, that is how my silly brain works these days. I can only think in terms of capturing everything on camera. Instead of comforting the girl, I was thinking of how lovely a scene it would be in a film. Cinéma vérité. Pure and unadulterated documentary. But such moments never find you with a camera.
It struck me how pathetic I was. For though I convinced myself that I wanted to make a social action film, a small voice whispered that all I was doing was take advantage of a little girl in her misery, the way the teacher had used her in her desire to continue studying. And the voice urged me to help her without any ulterior motives.
“Okay,” I told Nalongo. “What do you want me to do?”

Ha, what happened after that is a really long story, and I think it’s best if I continued it in the next post. Right now, I have to finish this romance novella – the second one I’m writing in two months! – so pleasecome back to hear what happened to the girl. Maybe, at the end of the year, you will be seeing a documentary film about her.

PS: The follow up article is here

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Who Will Tell this Tale?

A few years back, I used to have a certain kind of anger against foreigners who came to Uganda (and by extension other ‘poor’ countries) to make films. “Who gives them the right to tell our stories?” me and other filmmakers/artists would ask ourselves in our silly workshops. “They are only going to misrepresent us.” “They only tell negative stories that stereotype us in pictures of poverty, sickness and war.”

The search for love, motivated me to tell Ranjana’s story. She is in the photo below, with greenish sari.

Then, I went to Nepal. It’s a story I’ve told over and over again and need not to repeat. When I told Nepalis about my intention, they asked; “You came all this way to tell that story?” Stories of inter-caste marriages are so commonplace. I could feel the bewilderment in the question mark.

A Newari bride. Did I have the right to tell her story?

Of course, I did not give them my actual motivation – that I was going through very bad times in my quest for a wife and was thus was searching for the meaning of love. They would have laughed at me. I gave them a more practical reason; human rights, that the film was my small contribution in the fight against caste-based oppression and racial discrimination.

This was not far from the truth, for while every artist has a personal motivation, which is often so stupid that they cannot mention it in public, he or she needs a practical and global reason to make a film. A motivation that will attract financing, for filmmaking is sadly not an art – not yet – it’s a very expensive hobby. It will only become art if, according to Jean-Luc Godard, the tools of making it become as cheap as pencil and paper.

Early last year, I attended the ESoDoc International workshop in Nairobi. I was surprised to find that two of the projects being pitched were based in Uganda. One had something to do with this new trend of voluntourism, which some refer to as poverty tours. The other was strangely very similar in theme to the one I made in Nepal. It involves illicit sex and love. It is about a group of women who were shipped off to an island called akampene, or Punishment Island, and abandoned there to die. Why? Because they got pregnant outside marriage.

One of these women, who I will call Martha (don’t ask me why), was very young when her uncle impregnated her. She tried to hide the pregnancy, but well, you cannot hide a balloon. Her brother got furious. He did not believe her story of incest, rape and defilement. He dragged her into a boat, rowed off to the island and abandoned her there. It is a very tiny island where nothing grows, so she was bound to starve to death. But she managed to escape. She killed the baby when she delivered it.

An artist’s impression of the island. Drawing by Comfort Abemigisha

Very sad story. Very dramatic. I would have loved to make this documentary. And when I asked Laura, the Italian filmmaker currently fundraising to make this film, why she was doing it, she gave me the global motivation. Women’s rights. (It is not surprising that her crew is almost entirely female.) In her own words, “…women discrimination is something that needs to be spoken out…The story of Akampene is one of the million stories of women in trouble around the world and it is so strong that it can address the issue effectively. In some places the difficulties in giving birth, raising and educating a child or just being a woman are often so huge and unbearable that they need to be discussed, as they raise important questions about the life of each of us.” For lack of space, she left out relating it to the life of thousands of girls in Uganda today, who end up with unwanted pregnancies, sometimes after someone close to them – an older relative, a teacher, a neighbor – lures them into sex. I do know for sure that it is part of her outreach plan.

But while she was telling us about her project, I could not help thinking at the back of my head “Oh no, not another foreigner coming to tell our story!” Yet, a bolt of lightning struck me. And I thought to myself – ‘Wait a minute. You were a foreigner in Nepal telling Nepali stories!’ I remember making some Nepalis mad with my blog posts, and my choice of topic. I got a few hate mail on facebook. And sitting there with Laura in that small dark café in Nairobi, drinking coffee, I came to realize that it does not matter who tells the story. What matters is the motivation.

So I started to dig in to get to the very bottom of what was driving her to travel all the way from Italy to a remote village in Uganda.

“I feel very attracted to the island,” Laura told me. “Deep inside I have always been an animist, not as much as a religion, but I have always related both to objects and places as if they had a soul. This probably started in my childhood. I was very shy, with a vivid imagination and lots of time spent by myself.”

She paused. I waited, using the best trick I have learnt while interviewing characters. Silence. A slight nod of encouragement. If you say anything, you might break their chain of thought, and I could see that Laura had something heavy in her. Fortunately, none of the other three people with us on that table said anything, for they too could feel she was on the verge of telling something from deep down in her heart. She took a long sip of the coffee, and then she said, in so soft a voice that I almost did not hear it.

“I grew up with my grannies…. My parents were divorced.” If it were a movie scene, I would have faded out every other sound in the café. Her face would have been sharply in focus, while the people in the background would be blurred to arty images. For she was struggling to tell what was driving her to make the film. I could not make sense of it, or join the dots from the divorce of her parents to pregnant women left in an island to die. I doubt that she could make sense of it as well, for sometimes the artist never really puts a finger on the thing compelling her to do what she is doing.

“When I had nightmares,” she went on, “my wardrobe would appear.” Oh oh, I thought, as I took a sip of the coffee, nightmares and wardrobes? But I kept silent, and she continued. “The wardrobe – it was the container of my darkest feelings. When I first saw the island, it worked for me as my wardrobe.”

Now I was slowly joining the dots. Parents divorced. Nightmares. Wardrobe. Island. It started to make some sense, until she said, “When I was much younger, I was in a violent relationship.”

She did not say anything more, and I did not press her, for the cameras were not rolling. She excused herself to go to the bathroom, and I knew she was going to cry. When she had gone, Philline, a German who was with us, said, “Why do you ask such things Dilman? Now look what you have done to her. You are so mean!”

I know I’m mean. I’m sorry I asked those questions. I did not know it would open a wound. But I simply had to know. Later on, when she was back in Italy, she sent me an email (don’t call me mean! I did not send her a questionnaire! She did it on her own volition), I think she wanted to say more, or to clarify what she tried to tell me in that small dark café in Nairobi. One line from that email prompted me to write this article. She said, “I am sure that what made me really put so much work into trying to make this film, is the wardrobe-island link, even if this may make sense only to me… But I was in that wardrobe before I was in a violent relationship.”

Well, good luck to you Laura. I cannot wait to see your film made. There is a strong undercurrent of emotion in the effort, and it’s such a force that results in masterpieces.

Laura poses for a photo with some of her characters.

PS: If you wish to contribute to her film, visit

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