Grumpy Old Men


Lots of old grumpy (English) men on this train. There seems to be a mix-up with reservations and they’re having a go at each other when they come to claim their reserved seats. It’s quite amusing except it’s getting a bit out of hand.

An elderly woman passes by, brushing an elderly man to my left who is attempting to put his suitcase away in the overhead compartment. He shouts ‘you stupid woman!’ to her as she passes. She either doesn’t hear him or completely ignores him as she doesn’t even turn to give him a second look. His wife, on the other hand, is completely exasperated and very cross with him. She turns her face and her body away from him, facing the window after telling him, incredulously, that he can’t talk to people like that.

Another set of elderly men in front of me, ones who hadn’t reserved refused to get up for those who had. One of them assures the other who is getting visibly upset not to worry as he’ll go get the guard. He comes back a few minutes later with a train conductor. He leaves unsuccessfully a few more minutes later unable to get the man out of the seat and returns with a second conductor who cajoles the man out of his seat.

Wonder what will come of us as we age? Will we become grumpy old folks who insult all in their way?

The icing on the cake – I of course was sitting in a seat I hadn’t reserved, but no-one had come to claim it so I thought I was safe. And it was a nice seat too, a single by the window. Anyhow the ticket conductor came by and took my ticket. It took her a bit of time to give it back to me or say anything to me. Wondering what the problem was, I asked her if there was a problem. She tells me, quite annoyed, that my ticket is for 2nd class and this is first!

Of course the grumpy old men had a field day as I walked past them with my luggage. I’m sure they were shocked at the audacity of this girl, decades their junior, without a reservation, and one class down, who sits unmoved in a first class seat while seniors battle it out.

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Lamu’s Shella

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Breezy Cushioned Rooftops
Canopied by darkened skies
Lit up by constellations and maybe even whole galaxies
I couldn’t seem to trace
Or even attempt to begin to count

Shooting stars (and drones?)
Overlook as
Flirting winds
Kiss blushing trees,
Applauding oceans
Create waves
Romantic spell broken only by speedboats
Rushing noisily to get nowhere

A solo trip
A 12 room house to myself
Yet I’m almost never alone

Startled in the middle of the night
By sad brayings of donkeys
Creaking of open windows
Banging of open doors
As the wind negotiates past…
The night whispers its sweet lullabies
And yet I’m unable to fall asleep to its tune

Waking up to the sweet rising of a sun
I saw setting from a dhow the eve before
A breeze I would buy and bottle if I had the means

7 Muathins call the faithful to prayer from every which direction
Like a staggered chorus,
Echoing each other’s “Allahu Akbar’s”

Business/Entrepenurial tips from
Stranger turned suitor
Announcing news of our unagreed yet impending wedding
Mind you, a self-confessed former playboy

Women
Strikingly absent
Is that why they look at me so?

Marriage/Relationship tips from masseuse turned confidant
‘You’re getting old, you must get married!’
Says host/receptionist/assistant/caretaker adamantly
He’s an Omer-do-it-all sort of Jack who’s been around for close to two decades

Henna painting by a mother turns into
Convo with child about academic pursuits, dreams and how far one should persist
She promises to keep pushing

Collecting shells and stones by the seashore
Getting increasingly excited with every find
Omer indulges my unbounded and child-like excitement
I keep picking until his pockets begin to jingle and sag with the weight

Her/historic visit
First Ethiopian
First meal where host and guest sit together
Feasting on fresh fish neither had caught
Sweet potato mash suggested to chef
Now to be part of menu permanently as ‘Nebila mash’

Transport by all means
Donkey and bare feet tread the land
While sail and speed boats alternate the water ways

Bats hang, as they do, upside down
From the balcony
Watching,
As I attempt to transform memory into floetry

España

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Bubble poppers and feet dippers
Ferenji atali’s & Zembe taher’s

8AM sunrises & 9PM sunsets
Confused body clocks
Hola’s, gracias, & adios

Trains & planes
Window seats and middle seats
First class seats and no seats
Horse led carriages
Parachuted boats
Metered cabs
Rented bikes
But most utilised – route 11
Trusted soles & tattered maps always leading us home
No matter the hour or route

Blue grass & green waters
Clear skies and wispy clouds

Tapas & paellas
Fruits of la mar
La quinta por favor

Stadiums, cathedrals, parks
People’s streets
Intricate casas
Rebuilt mezquitas
Decorated doors

Demons
Let out on
Beaches and benches
Courtyards & Rooftops

Insatiable questions
Random language lessons
Reprimands and mockery
Contagious laughter

Bubbles and burning feet
Satiated cravings
Ice-cream – in cups, cones and sticks
Naranja & nestea
Litres consumed
By scorching heat
Expelled by sweaty bodies

Proudly dipping feet
In waterways
Waterfalls
Pools and ponds

For untold stories
Listen to me brothers!
And…(wait for it…..)
…..sisters! (sheepish smile)

España – it’s not adios
Only – asta a la próxima!

Bucket List

And in no particular order, here are some of the things I would like to have done before my time on this earth is up…plan is to cross off at least one thing a year…

  1. Skydive (Proof)
  2. Bungee Jump (Proof)
  3. Climb to peak of Mt. Kilimanjaro
  4. White water rafting – preferably in the Omo River
  5. Para glide-preferably over Rio
  6. Jet ski
  7. Ride on a Hot Air Balloon
  8. Helicopter Ride
  9. Snow board
  10. Scuba Dive
  11. Surf
  12. Snorkel
  13. Ice skate
  14. Travel to 7 continents – Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, Antartica
  15. Travel to at least 50 countries (25 down, 25 to go)
  16. Travel to 7 World Wonders- Pyramids of Giza, Victoria Falls, Taj Mahal, Great Wall of China
  17. Travel to Ancient Sites of the World- Petra (Jordan), Machu Pichu (Peru), Timbuktu (Mali) …
  18. Travel all over Africa – at least 25 countries (15 down, 10 to go)
  19. Travel all over Ethiopia – Axum, Benishangul, Denakil Depression, Ras Dashen, Lalibela, Gonder, Harar, Dire Dawa, Bahir Dar…..
  20. Pilgrimage to Mecca
  21. Read entire  Quran (both English/Arabic versions)
  22. Speak French fluently
  23. Be Conversant in Arabic/Swahili
  24. Operate a parachute solo
  25. Operate a plane solo
  26. Learn Reflexology/Be Certified Masseuse
  27. Learn how to ride a motorcycle
  28. Learn how to roller blade/skateboard/Ice skate (proper)
  29. Learn how to drive stick shift
  30. Get a Masters
  31. Publish Poetry Anthology
  32. Record Accompanying Audio CD
  33. Produce a documentary
  34. Build a six pack
  35. Build a successful business
  36. Build a family
  37. Build a home-preferably by the water or on a mountain

This list is not exhaustive, and is bound to keep growing….in all things though, I aspire to cultivate happiness, spread passion, and all in all leave this earth without regrets knowing that I have lived!

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