The Angels of Nairobi

I have a new catchphrase now: “I have never lost anything of value in Kenya, except for my heart”. The story remains true, and I have added another chapter to it today.

There are many reasons why I fell in love with Kenya, since I first visited Nairobi in 2009. I had mentioned elsewhere on this blog that JKIA (Jomo Kenyatta International Airport) was my first landing point in Africa twenty years ago. I have had a long history with this place, but I am mostly attracted to the friendliness of its people. There are times in Africa when a mzungu* could feel intimidated and afraid, but Kenyans rarely unsettle me in this way. They are in general honest, peace-loving, helpful and genuinely friendly.

I have always enjoyed a laugh with the security guards in our estate. I am on good friendly terms as well with the taxi drivers who regularly help me out with lifts to the airport or when my car breaks down (the latter happens more often than I would like). Almost everyone I work with in the banks, at my coffee station, or the local grocery is helpful, courteous and kind. They offer help most of the time without reservation.

One incident that demonstrates the helpfulness of Kenyans happened to me late last year. I was driving to the aforementioned JKIA to fetch my parents who were coming on their first visit to Kenya (it was also my father’s first visit to Africa). It was dark but not too late at night, and I was happily following the directions of the google navigator. I was perhaps within minutes of arriving when I took the turn to the airport too early, and ended up heading towards the industrial area in bumper to bumper traffic. The google navigator went ominously silent and completely stopped making any route suggestions. There was a dark screen showing a dotted line on the road where I was heading away from the airport. My son beside me started panicking and proclaiming that we were lost, and I was worried that there was nowhere for me to turn around. I was not afraid because the road was full of cars and there was no chance of anything criminal happening to me in such setting. But the time was approaching my parents’ arrival and I needed to act, so I did the only thing I could think of, the African way. I rolled the window down and signaled the passenger from the car next to me that I needed to talk and asked how to get to the airport. The man and his driver/friend smiled and told me that I needed to turn around, I told them I knew that but I did not know how. They tried to explain, and I struggled a bit to follow their directions. They kept watching me and the driver used his indicators to point me to the turnaround route.

It is quite complicated to drive in Nairobi as there are so many parallel routes that run along a main road and offer a chance to turn around, go onto a side street, or to continue on the same main road. After a while of this partially successful navigating their car stopped and they told me to follow them. They ended up leading me to the airport security gates. I took the number of the helpful passenger and promised to stay in touch. A few minutes later, I managed to get to my parents after they cleared customs and collected their bags, they had to wait for me for a bit. Later that evening I also enlisted the help of another kind Kenyan airport worker to point me to the parking pay-station. He earned the price of a cool drink for his trouble.

As for my airport guide, I invited him a few weeks later to have lunch with me and my son. The story ended on a little bit of a sour note when a few days after our meeting he texted me to lend him money for his agriculture project. I told him I would gift him a significantly less amount, and I sent him that to never hear from him again. I still think that my overly obvious gratitude for his original kind deed made him bold enough to ask. If I did not offer that type of gratitude (and the very expensive lunch) he wouldn’t have asked to borrow money. And he did not expect anything in return for helping me that first time. I would like to think that he would have done it anyway. After all I could have just driven away into the airport that evening, never to see him again.

Now getting back to my luck at never losing things in Kenya, I have a few stories to demonstrate it, including my brush with disaster some time ago. But the first incident that set the scene for me and gave me a good feeling about the place happened a few days after my arrival in Nairobi. I was still unsettled and living out of my many suitcases in a guesthouse. My son was trying to adjust to the new school, and we did not have yet our regular routine for daily transport. Sometimes I picked my son up from his nearby school and brought him with me to the office compound, where we had lunch at our cafeteria. We arrived in the rainy season, so we always had some umbrellas and rain jackets with us, but this being Africa means that there are always spells of sunshine even on rainy days. It so happened that my son forgot his rain jacket at the cafeteria one Friday and we only noticed this at the weekend. I thought that I will never see his beloved blue jacket again, but on Monday when I checked for it at the lost and found counter, it was there. And I thought, this is cool, this place is for me. I completely lost track of the number of things I lost and had to discard in New York, yet this place welcomed me by returning to me something that I care about.

Later things like this happened with my son again. Whereas he lost many things at school or at the YMCA in New York, never to be seen again, he always managed to find the things he misplaced at his school in Nairobi.

Today I added another chapter to this saga of lost and found. I walked to a nearby bakery to order donuts for a school party. I withdrew money from the ATM, to pay for the oder, then headed back to the office to have my coffee in the garden. While getting ready to receive my coffee I noticed that my debit card was gone. Surprisingly, and because of my history of being a loskop I did not panic and just went meticulously through my wallet and my hand bag. I still had the receipt from the bakery and I phoned the lady who took my order and explained to her what happened. She said she would look. Meanwhile I retraced my steps out of the compound and back to the bakery. I was sure that I either left it in the ATM machine, or dropped it on the way back. When I arrived at the small shopping mall where the bakery was, the saleslady was already there and told me that she asked the bank. The security guard was there too, and some other people from the bank. Where this would usually unsettle me, I sensed the genuine helpfulness and concern from everyone. I was completely calm through all this. I went methodically again through the contents of my bag and wallet, then I sat on the bench in front of bank machine and the small bank branch and started dialing my overseas bank to cancel my card. The bakery sales lady told me that she informed the bank manager so I did not bother to check with them again. As I was starting to make my phone calls one of the bank employees came out to check the machine, I told her that I had lost my card, and that it might have been retrieved by the machine. She asked me to hold on a bit. A minute or so later I was asked for my passport but the only ID I had on me was my work ID, they accepted that and returned my very same debit card.

I laughed thanking them and said that I always tell everyone that I haven’t lost anything of value in Kenya, except my heart. The bank manager smiled and said: You lost it to someone in Kenya? How sweet ! Yes, I said, although I thought that sweet was something else. Then you haven’t lost it really, she replied, it is with someone, you see?. Perhaps you are right, I answered. But I wished I could believe that.

In the meantime, I send a heartfelt blessing to the angels of Nairobi. Thank you, I feel honoured to be one of you.


* Mzungu: Common Kiswhaili word referring to a person of pale complexion or European descent – plural: Wazungu.

A Close Brush with Disaster

For the past few weeks, I started using different techniques to process my breakup with the man I love. I had started out with yoga some months back, and I found that it helped me a lot on the days I was overwhelmed with emotions. Later I opened up to guided meditation and mindfulness, in addition to reading about dealing with grief.

This helps at times, but at others I just need to stop and let the pain of missing my beloved go through me like a tidal wave, until it crashes on the shores of my soul and leaves me at peace. Today was one of those days.

Perhaps part of it is hormonal, in addition to factors of stress and dealing with planning and problems alone. We are traveling on a short trip for Easter and there are tons of things to arrange before then. On top of that, yesterday the gearbox of my car gave way completely as I was on the way to work.  The security guard had waved me through after a brief check at the office barrier and when I handled the gear to put in first it was a uselessly swinging pendulum. By some miracle I could drive the car home (it was possibly stuck on 3rd gear), but it had to be towed from there to the mechanic. Huge amounts of money are needed now to fix  it. It is a British tin of rubbish, but I have grown attached to it, for all the care and nursing it needed. Later in the day I also had to deal with my son’s anxiety about his upcoming dental appointment, and today when I took him to the dentist I was greatly unsettled by the size of the cavity hole and the procedure the dentist followed to remove the pulp of his tooth (the equivalent of a root canal in an adult).  And again there was a huge bill to pay.

My son handled the treatment surprisingly well, and managed to go on to music lesson right after.  But when I finally sat down to process my stressful situation, I was overwhelmed by sadness and the need for a shoulder to cry on. I felt the pain of missing my beloved more acutely and sharply. I stopped to meditate and felt my tears flow freely, and it was a relief perhaps to let go of all this grief and sadness. My day however stayed unsettled as I went on to work after sending my boy back home with a take-away lunch of Sushi to make up for his discomfort.

Throughout the day I fought the urge to text my beloved. I had lunch then coffee and checked again that he hasn’t shown up online since last night. I ran to the bank to replenish my balance, as I did not have enough Kenyan pesa (money) to pay rent. I checked again with my son to see whether his numb jaw had resolved. I made a toilet stop after the bank and I rested my phone and wallet in the stall. When I finished I just collected my handbag and left everything else there. I stopped at the mail drop point to see whether I had any uncollected letters and chatted to a colleague there at length about my upcoming trip, and what I could get her from there, then went on to my desk to continue my paperwork. Only when I checked for my phone did I remember that I left it in the bathroom. I ran to the bathroom downstairs like a madwoman. A uniformed cleaning staff was busy mopping the floor, but there in the last cubicle I saw my phone sitting on top of my brown wallet and the deposit slip from the bank (both of which I had not yet missed). I almost stumbled on my feet to retrieve them and hurriedly retreated out the bathroom nodding thanks to the cleaning woman. Later I discovered that there were a few bills missing. By coincidence, I had counted my change at the bank to see whether I had enough for taxi fare to the airport (I had some change amounting to a 1500 Kenyan Shilling or 15 dollars). The kindly thief left me with 500 Shilling, which was the largest denomination bill  I had in cash, and it was enough for taxi fare home. I was shaking all over when I went back to my office and I think I randomly babbled about the incident to some unknown people in the corridor. My colleague from next door came to inquire and we both agreed that I was extremely lucky. Kenya again has been good to me. I had the fortune of meeting with a kindhearted thief. She is wholeheartedly forgiven, for leaving my wallet alone. I cannot imagine what losing it would have meant for my travel plans tomorrow.  I would have had to cancel our trip for sure. That would have broken my son’s heart, and perhaps it was his guardian angels looking out for my wallet, not mine.

The incident left me shaken to the core, and gave me a reason to text my love. Again, I reached out in my state of shock to complain in one short text about how bad I felt. I only mentioned the car and how I nearly lost wallet and phone. Again the answer comes back completely detached. He told me that when he nearly loses things it is a warning to be more careful. I know baby, I wanted to say, I was just having a bad day, I miss you. Heck I might have even said something along that line, minus the terms of endearment.

Another meditation session followed, some more tears flowed. It is perhaps that time of the month, the turbulence of the change years. I crave chocolate, sex, and perhaps some attention. I pine for my beloved like a teenager, only I am grey, wrinkled and pathetic. At least mediation teaches me to accept what I cannot change. I just breathe through the pathetic rush of emotions.

The storm is all but passed now. He just send me a message meant as usual for someone else, a friend, unlike me. He invited them to drinks because he and his wife are around for the hols. I know I did the right thing to leave this guy, I just need to convince my heart.


Potty Training Frustration

I am sure that given time I will revise this opinion, but so far potty training has been THE most difficult parenting task I had with Robbie.

First of all it was very hard to convince him to sit on the potty or do without his nappy. Second it is near impossible to get him to understand that No.2 belongs in the potty and not in the nappy, or underpants or on the couch and flo0r for that matter.

I tried various strategies, from bribery and cajolery to brute force persuasion – the latter resulted in the both of us spending a whole afternoon “stuck” in the bathroom, because we were only allowed to get out once the potty is used successfully.

Initially I tried to put him in underpants : He thought the underpants were a good substitute for a nappy and used them as such.

I tried bare bum – and I am still doing it, which resulted in the accidents I mentioned earlier on the floor and the sofa.

In the evening I used to put his sleep nappy after a bath and just before I tucked him in, but he quickly learned to time his poo for this, and sometimes filled the nappy from the horizontal position, which is a great feat in my opinion for someone who claims that doing it on the potty is “hard”.

Meanwhile the tricks of rewards have done very little to convince him: So far my child has done without chocolate, and his beloved radio, and he still hasn’t graced the potty with a substantial product – He did not have any bowel  movement for the last 48 hours and I finally resorted to a mild laxative. Hopefully I will not regret this.

What is finally working for No1 is a potty toy. A small musical wind-up box that plays a German song : Hänschen Klein. It has accompanying colorful cards, which contain a few dozen of other songs, most of which are familiar to him from the German tapes and CDs he loves. At least this worked magic for the appeal of sitting on the potty to make a wee. At the creche he also has no problems or accidents and they have their own methods of convincing the children to do what they are supposed to. Also the peer pressure (or should I say pee-er pressure) of other potty-goers probably helps. But we are still waiting for the other monumental achievement, of actually making a poo on the potty.

So exasperated I was from all of this that I actually promised my boy to tell the stories of potty-training failures one day to his girlfriend, to which he replied smugly : “Gina is my go-fend”, so it seems like I missed that one.

Another little thing he told me today while arranging his table and chair to resemble a huge speaker (have no idea how he saw they did) – he said: This is “fuss-tate-ing” – I am sure he picked it up from my up-beat vocabulary during this experience.

PS : I was interrupted while writing this by another accident of major proportions on the floor. All I can say is thank god I have no carpets in my flat. And the battle continues, this is now week three.

Why My Son Doesn’t Wear Handknit

There are reasons why I do not produce much hand-knit material, and I have very little to show for it once the I actually finish an object.

When Robert was born I knitted him a jacket, it ended up getting stolen from my ex’s car along with the baby backpack I received from Cape
Town Mediclinic, a baby bottle, a board book and other baby paraphernalia. Last week I did finish a sweater for Robert, it was lying there awaiting completion since September. In fact it traveled with me to Germany and back, and was just missing half a sleeve. I finished it even in the middle of a rush translation project because I wanted to make sure that he gets to wear it as the weather gets cooler. The sweater was a little on the small side – the pattern was for a one-year-old not 18 months +, but I had elaborate plans of blocking it or even unravelling it from the bottom and knitting longer ribbings. My plans did not come to pass, and the sweater was worn for TWO times only.  I forgot that it was not 100% acrylic and put it in the washing machine along with other synthetics. When it came out it was felted and shrunk beyond recognition. The heat was not an issue I think but rather all the spinning and agitating. Now it has been put away out of sight, I am not even sure whether I can give it away to a smaller baby, I am too upset to even have a second look.

Now like its predecessor the cardigan all that is left are photos. Shame, because I liked the sweater so much, it matched Robert’s eyes perfectly.

Playing Catch up … Again

I had so many plans for my time off which started on Monday, but apart from an almost complete thorough cleaning project, defrosting a fridge that closely resembles an ice-age glacier and scheduling long-delayed dentist and ob-gyn appointments,  I managed very little progress elsewhere. Needless to say that my blog is one badly neglected area.

For one thing it seems that I do far more reading than writing, and reading the web has become one major time-suck for me, and my problem is that I am addicted to my reading from Slate, Salon and the New York Times in addition to a number of “selected” blogs in my numerous areas of interest, it is the curse of the curious I suppose.

Apart from this little window for my curiosity and my little ray of sunshine I have a very boring life, so lets move on to the real and metaphoric sunshine.

After a brief cold spell, then a few baking days of 30+ temperatures that are more worthy of summer, the weather has now mellowed into my favorite seasons, the beautiful autumn, we have settled on pleasant mid-twenties with golden warm sun and just a whisper of sea breeze cooling us down early morning and late afternoon.  Perfect day at the park weather.

Robert has come out nicely from a nasty episode of ear infection, flu and cough, but just as I thought we had the worst behind us he started on with an eye infection which I treated with a little of left over eye-drops from a previous episode. Once the eye cleared I decided to keep him home an continue treating the eye with an over-the-counter ointment, because I cannot stomach taking him to the doctor again, we have been there twice already this month.

The teachers at school are all very nice to my little one, and school seems to bring out the sunniest parts of his personality,  giving him a lot of space to his curiosity and urge to explore without allowing him to wreak havoc in the surrounding. Unfortunately I cannot say the same for our home environment, where the limited space and the existence of “adult” tools make it a potentially dangerous grounds. I either have to frustrate his every effort at explorations, or put up with collateral damage. This week’s list include:  Breaking an almost full bottle of my favorite bubble bath, smearing bum cream all over our duvet cover, and of course the very frequent accidents with food.  So I find myself constantly wiping up greasy hand and thumbprints from table, and all baby-height surfaces. The clean-up of my late beloved honey-almond bubble bath was a little less complicated, but at least I got to enjoy a sweet-smelling lounge for a couple of days.

Apart from being a mess generator and a very physically demanding toddler,  I am proud to notice Robert’s developing social and mental abilities. I bet this is the reason why his teachers love him so much, because he is an absolute charmer. One of his teachers said that he learns new words every day, and it does not take long for him either. Yesterday he insisted that I give him “denta foss”. I can hardly remember teaching him the word.

His observation of the world and his surrounding has also improved. When I went to pick him up from school on Monday, he was sitting in the hall in the middle of a row of children, watching some cartoon movie on the large-screen television. He was so absorbed in it, he never noticed me at the door. This is the first time I see him showing any interest in television content, and his teacher said so as well.

He has also taken to watching and noticing what other people are doing. Whereas in the past there were only isolated observations of likeness – I still chuckle when I remember the story his dad told me : Robert pointing out the picture of George W. Bush and saying: dada-  He still does that of course, when he calls any oriental woman he notices : A-man (his name for my neighbor May-Lan). Now he also points out people in action, yesterday morning he pointed out a man walking ahead of us “man walking”, then a woman eating a banana in the minibus : “eating a-bana” and then when she finished “A-bana gone”. I am waiting for the day when he points out potentially embarassing things… He always comments that “bus boken”, but that somehow escaped the notice of the proud taxi drivers/owners.

He might be developing some sense of humor as well. Today I took a picture of him which I called “peanut butter face” and it amused him so much he wanted to see it on the camera time and time again.  The picture of course is cute, but it gives an idea why a toddler mother does not have much time for anything else when the little ones are awake. Yet like every mother I am torn between taking him to school for the day or enjoying his company on my day off.  I am all too aware that these toddler days are very short, so I might as well enjoy them while they are here, mess and all.

Sunday’s Fun and Follies


We treated ourselves to a predominantly lazy day today.  Mom, baby and cat played at home for the whole morning.


I consciously try teaching Robert the ability to laugh at his own mishaps. Here he is  acting out a funny incident that happened a few weeks ago, while we were playing with soap bubbles (the non toxic, kid friendly variety; I always make sure to buy those).  Normally I do not let Robert take the bottle of soap from me, but I relented on that day because there was very little soap left. It was a mistake of course, as toddlers are very apt at doing exactly what they shouldn’t and within a split second. I think Robert was looking inside the bottle when he tipped it bottoms up right onto his face and mouth. I just heard a loud gulp, and then he started crying and denouncing it as : ka-ka. Initially it was funny but then I remembered the horrible pain that one gets at the back of the throat when salt water goes up the nose. Robert must have felt the same. The liquid, which I tried when the crying did not want to stop, tasted so bitter that it numbed my tongue. This explained why Robert refused to drink or eat anything right after he gulped it. Thirty minutes later he settled to sleep exhausted and I thought this was the best thing for him to forget that awful bitter taste.

A day later I started acting out the incident, with sound effects and exaggerated facial expressions. Robert picked the whole act, and now does it by himself.

I thought today would be free of such misadventures, because we kept it such low key. In the afternoon we headed to the park and enjoyed the peace until a family arrived with their picnic supper. Robert of course went right in there trying to look inside cooler bags and generally being the inquisitive little toddler he is. Mom kept close trying to prevent him from making a nuisance of himself, but at the same time not wanting to curb his natural curiosity, especially that the family seemed friendly enough.  Soon he started to become part of the picnic and took a fancy to the juice they offered him in tall plastic cup. He kept coming back to the dad and asking for “mo” (more). When I tried fooling him and pouring his own juice into the tumbler he promptly dumped the contents on the grass. Everyone thought this was wildly funny (including myself) but then he repeated the trick with the juice offered by our hosts, so I thought that was enough and we excused ourselves and headed home.

On our way back I stopped at a shop offering soft serve ice cream. Robert had eyed some kids on the road having it and I thought it would be a nice treat for him. We never got to taste the ice cream because when I offered the tall soft server to Robert for a first sampling the whole soft serve column tumbled onto his shirt and lap. He looked on unimpressed and confused as I mopped it up using the all purpose cloth/wipe which I always keep in the backpack. The poor shop keeper was also hovering around offering tissues and waste basket. As we were leaving he gave us another ice cream, a chocolate coated Popsicle, which we were still able to enjoy.

Unbelievable?.. Believe It !

Good Morning !

And this is the pretty sight that greeted my half awake eyes, as I wanted to put away the cups into the cupboard. I looked stupefied as slowly my brain comprehended what my eyes focused on; my “lost” wallet.. WTF ? And how on earth has it ended up there, among cups and bowls? Please do not ask me.

Is it the onset of old age? early Alzheimer? I have no idea. All I know is that I succeeded in hiding it so well that it took me over 48 hours to find it again.  I should perhaps blame Lucy for not cleaning properly, but I doubt it would have made any difference, because I immediately canceled all the cards. Later I found out that the stop on the credit and debit cards is permanent and cannot be reversed, so I just incurred charges for nothing.  Well, the good thing is that I do not need to buy another wallet and I do not need to reissue my bookshop membership card. I still need to get a new driver’s license and a new library card though, or perhaps I should go to the police station before that and ask whether somebody handed in my other wallet, who knows? I mean with my strange luck it might be even sitting there .

Today I also got an answer from work about my schedule. Apparently I have signed myself into the flexible shift option by mistake. Again, I am mystified at how this happened. I have to watch myself very carefully, it seems like I am losing it slowly.

Books, Catfood, Reading lamp and Radio, Conveniently on One Shelf

Today I took my flu-ridden body to the doctor, and she gave me only two days of bed rest.  So unfortunately I will still have to put in two working days before being off for two weeks. I really cannot wait to have some holiday, set up our Christmas tree and try to organize this chaotic existence. I am still living mostly out of boxes and have very little storage space, and this contributes hugely to my problem of losing things (see below).

Disorganised is an Understatement
Disorganized is an Understatement

In other news: This is the first post I am writing from my new laptop, which I am slowly setting up. First I got rid of Windows Vista and downgraded to old trusted Windows XP Professional, now I am setting up all the drivers and the programs. Working with a laptop is way less clutter than a PC, especially handyman’s special PCs which are a result of components randomly placed together by semi competent technicians. Not that I have anything to complain about the after-sale support of my PC Salesman, who recovered my PC many times up into its third year of service, but I digress.  My new laptop is a SONY VAIO VGN-BZ15GN, and it was a considerable investment, because I wanted it as a desktop replacement so it is not one of the lighter variety. The reviews place this machine in the fair to good category with criticism leveled at its display resolution, but after looking at a CRT for ten years this TFT display looks like the greatest thing ever.  The salesman warned me that this is not a powerful gaming notebook,  but gaming is the least interesting function for me. The most important thing is a good keyboard, a built-in camera, good processor speed, and reliability; I believe I will be getting all of that from my new machine.  Soon I will be able to retire and sell my old noisy machine and enjoy the wonderful liberty of working, anywhere anytime, by marrying the notebook technology with my mobile 3g modem; life is great.

An additional anecdote: It turns out that I am a closet SONY fan. In addition to my notebook there is my (almost lost) Sony Ericcson K810 cell phone, and my SONY Radio, Casette, CD, MP3 Player.

Starts, Stops and Stupidity

I recently read an article on Babycentre about extended breastfeeding and it calmed down my increasing feelings of guilt at my lackadaisical approach to weaning.  Most of the time I am letting Robert drive the process, and I have no intention of covering my nipples with chili sauce to put him off – which is a remedy I vaguely remember from the less worldly mothers of my native country. Robert is actually very mature about the whole thing, he rarely requests to be nursed during the day and I have managed two nights in a row to put him to sleep without resorting to the comfort of breastfeeding.  I feel comfortable that weaning will take place sooner or later, perhaps even before the end of the year.  A month ago I managed to reduce breastfeeding to nightly sessions only, but then his prolonged sickness was a setback; breast milk was the only food he wanted, and it was the only thing he was able to keep down when he had the stomach bug.  Today I am having another setback because I am suffering with an incapacitating flu (yet again), and breast milk is an easy meal to offer when mom is bedridden.

I believe my frequent bouts of flu are intimately linked to my emotional and mental state. The flu hits when I experience an emotional setback, a conflict at work or a disappointment, this weekend has witnessed two such incidents.

I guess I am not so lucky after all, the black cloud that my ex husband purported to float around my head is still very much there. Never mind my near miss with the cell phone; On Friday I lost my wallet for the second time in two months. Since this follows so closely on the heels of similar incidents, I can hardly make any excuses except for perhaps stupidity, confusion and absentmindedness.  I mean this is now the third time that I have something fall out of my pockets (from the same shallow-pocketed pants I may add) but I never really took notice of the problem until now. Well, not many people are this dense.  In the aftermath of the event I made a quick google search with the sentence “I always lose my wallet” and all I got was writings from party animals and people who generally get themselves too intoxicated to remember what they did on nightly revelry, let alone where they lose their wallets in the process.  Ah well, shit happens I guess.

My bad wallet jumped out of my pocket early Friday evening somewhere en route on Sea Point Main Road, and I only noticed its absence early on Saturday morning when I was getting ready to go to work.  I was too frustrated to go to work and I actually phoned to get out of it but a very nice Duty Manager was on the floor in the morning and she asked me to try my best to get there and I couldn’t say no. Lucy did not have any small change to lend me for the taxi and I do not have a change box at my little flat, so in the end I picked up a two-Euro coin and used it for my transport. At work my friend the Duty Manager gave me some money to tide me over until Monday when I will be finally able to go to the bank and get a new bank card.

The day progressed like a normal day at work usually does, no disasters, no major happenings. As I was ready to leave my Team Leader indicated that he wanted to speak to me for ten minutes about my quarterly review.  The review was encouraging, despite the fact that I made one serious mistake involving the transport of Dangerous Goods, and another less serious one which resulted in a complaint from a customer airline. I also had two incidents of late comings recorded during the time; it is hard to punctual when I depend on public transport and the early arrival of my nanny, and things easily spiral out of control when anything else goes wrong.

As I was leaving the little man from productivity planning, the star of my previous woes with the work schedule showed up. He had apparently been putting in extra time on this Saturday to prepare the shift roster for January. I went to get my copy and was unable to believe what I was seeing there. After all the trouble and the degradation I went through trying to explain to my situation to management, they put me again on flexible shifts, working afternoons as well as mornings.  I think I went straight to the little man and showed him my schedule, and he gave me a puzzled and uncomprehending look : “this is what I had” he muttered, and the only thing I could do was retort : “You guys are really funny, you know that?”. I just walked away, trembling with my pent up rage, and the desire to strangle and trample the blond cretin.  At the water cooler I bumped into a colleague, who pointed out to me the futility of getting mad and letting my mouth run away with me, whinging only as I usually do. He put into my head the idea of filing a formal grievance, which I definitely intend to do.  I cannot even begin to describe my feelings of utter rage at the incompetence and inefficiency of the people who plan our working schedules.

My worries about this recurring problem made me forget momentarily the problem with my wallet, and in any case my cards were safely canceled by then and there was nothing left for me to do other than casually ask at some of the places I passed yesterday, if anyone had handed in a wallet. At the first Supermarket I asked, there was strangely enough a wallet but it wasn’t mine. The fact that people seem to find things and hand them in, encourages me to ask further. I do not like it because it makes me relive my stupidity again and again (every time I ask) but I hope that the exercise will be humbling enough for me to learn a useful lesson.

Robert’s dad brought him home at three, and he was burning up with fever, presumably the side effect of his MMR vaccination, so I was caught up with this problem for the rest of the night.  Sponge baths and suppositories absorbed me with wallet and work forgotten for while. However I still managed to email my incompetent management to ask about the scheduling; my tone in the email was not as poisonous as I felt. I am saving all my wrath though for the grievance letter which I have started to work on.  Another battle for the walking wounded… life can get too interesting sometimes.

Lost and Found

My absent-mindedness almost caught up with me today ( yet again).  This happens two months after losing my wallet on board a bus – a situation I haven’t recovered from yet, I might add, since I haven’t had the time yet to replace my driver’s license. The near miss today was my cell phone.

The day started in the usual rush to get Robert to day care and myself to work. I had arranged with his father to pick him up early today so that we can take him for his immunization, but in the rush I forgot to take his immunization card.  So the day did not bode very well from the start.

At the Cape Town Mediclinic Robert sat through two injections on each shoulder crying only for the second one. He was however very fidgety as I carried him to the parking lot. I took out my cell phone to call his father who was out of sight as we returned to the car, but before I could use the phone, my ex showed up and we quickly got into the car and headed home.

I only discovered that I misplaced my phone two hours later as I was ready to leave with Robert. I went through the usual routine of phoning it and was dismayed that I did not hear it in my flat. The next check was to phone my ex, which is rather embarrassing for me, because my ex always lambasted me for my absentminded and disorganized nature. Surprisingly this time he was rather accommodating and went through searching the car twice, and then offered to walk to the Mediclinic and ask at the desk. He came up with nothing and I resigned myself to the fact that I have seen the last of my cell phone. The only question in my mind was when should I actually give up and order a new one ?

I researched and located a replacement at a cost of R2500, it could have been worse I thought. Then I remembered with dismay all the photos I took yesterday and never had time to download. I also realized with shock that I lost everyone’s number including my nanny’s. I managed to find her number somewhere else, which was somewhat of a relief because my only contacts to her -Jackie and her mom- are not talking to me anymore. In the end and after futile phoning to my lost cell, which was always ringing forlornly somewhere, I decided to go to the shops. For some reason I started buying the things that I was putting off, never mind the fact that I was going to have a huge bill for a new cell phone shortly.  Robert was oblivious to my trouble and slept peacefully in his buggy. Today he wore a lime-green shirt on top of his army camouflage pants and looked so cute, and again I thought of my missing cell phone and its camera.

Shortly after our return from the shops I made one more call to my cell phone and to my amazement someone answered, saying that they found my phone on the sidewalk; I had dropped it right in front of our block. The kind man explained that his housekeeper found it and I was so pleased I told him I would give him all I have in my wallet as a reward, he said that his housekeeper will be pleased.  A few minutes after this phone call the kind man arrived with my cell phone, and he only took part of  the money I offered in gratitude. My good Samaritan lives and works a few blocks away as a children photographer, so I am certainly going to see him again for photos with Robert.

What a surprising and pleasant end to another misadventure. Thank you Cape Town, there are still good people out there.

Update on Robert: My worries about Robert’s eating calmed a little after his measurements at the clinic. He actually put on a few grams since he recovered from tonsillitis.

Today his stats today are as follows:

Weight:  10.35 kg

Length: 82 cm

Auction Blues

The highly anticipated auction date for the house in Gonubie was yesterday. My conversations with the auctioning house have been sobering lately because I can sense that there isn’t much interest there and they are definitely struggling to show a presence in Gonubie, when they do not even have an office in East London. Compared to the hype they stared with I was preparing myself for disillusionment, but I did not anticipate its monumental proportions. They called me yesterday afternoon to tell me that they had a single bidder for R 400,000. This is even less than what was actually paid for the house. I was sorely disappointed and lamented the money I threw away at this auction ( R 10,000 for the auctioneers + R 1000 for cleaning the pool) in addition to refilling the pool with water, and god knows what this will mean to my final municipal bill.

My dreams of breaking free from this existence at Jackie’s have been shattered, and I was caught at an extremely low point when I spoke with Ron today. I could sense that he wasn’t doing well either, perhaps because the expenses are much more than he bargained for. He said that perhaps he should have understood the triangle of conflict in our life together and how we interchanged the roles of villain, victim and benefactor. He even said that perhaps we should have tried counseling. My personal situation is so bleak that I cannot sympathize with him a bit. By and large he was the one who led us to this particular turn of events. I can hardly remember myself being the villain in this relationship, and he rarely -if ever- played the benefactor. The imbalance was starkly revealed with the birth of our son and his almost hostile attitude towards him, which really frightened me.

When my ex firmly stated that he wanted OUT, he could not understand that my first impulse as a nursing mother would be to protect and defend my young one. The response is not unique to us humans, and is widely observed in the animal kingdom. Females display uncharacteristically hostile and aggressive behaviour when there is a threat to their young, it doesn’t matter whether the threat is real or perceived. His threatening behavior provoked my anger, hostility and aggression and I retaliated very strongly and decisively, by filing for divorce and going through with it this time. I saw with my instinct that a man who can shut out his wife and his newborn son simply doesn’t love her anymore, and perhaps doesn’t even love his son enough.  Yes, I did hurt at the time, and I still do. But I know one thing for sure, I have no regrets. Even though I still care for the man, my trust for him is completely gone, and that is why there is no future for us together anymore.  All I want now is a place of my own, I have had it with living under the dictate of other people.