Monday, 28 April 2014

The red round bed Hotel in Tororo – Rock Hotel


On a recent road trip back home to Tororo, we sought out a place of lodging in town that would be acceptable to the entire party travelling with us. 

Our basic check list was for a place that was close to the town’s main street, clean and hygienic, good food and quiet. Little did we know that this would be a tall order even though we had pretty much decided to manage our expectations from the get go. 


So here is how our hunt went with a kick of humor Tororo style, at one well known hotel in Eastern Uganda I hope you enjoy.

None of us had ever had the opportunity to stay at Tororo Rock Hotel before and after this visit I was sure I would never visit again. As we pulled into the gate, the security man flagged us through and we proceeded to the parking area in front of the hotel. We were greeted by deafening music which did not even allow us to hear each other speak as we walked through the front doors of the hotel which had cables dangling in a crisscross manner against the wall to the DSTV dishes at the front.

My Cousin: “Hello!”

Female Receptionist: “Hello, welcome to Rock Hotel.”

My Cousin: “Thank You, why are you playing loud music outside – do you have an event or something…?”

Female Receptionist: “No, we only have discos on Wednesday and Saturday nights at the hotel,” she said with a smile on her face.

My Cousin: “Ohh...” (As she looked outside in shock at how unbothered the staff was by the loud music playing)

My sister: “We would like to look at your single occupancy and twin rooms.”
My Cousin: “Oh and family rooms.”

Female Receptionist: “Okay, he will take you up to look at them.”

Male Receptionist: “Follow me.”

We followed him through dimly lit hallways with walls that could do with a coat or two of paint and as we swung around the bend we were greeted by a male Caucasian foreigner with a firm voice that weighed heavy with displeasure.  As he saw the male staffer from the reception, he immediately turned around and began to engage him in conversation;

Foreign Occupant (Male): “I do not have water in my room, is there a problem.”

Male Receptionist: “No sir, I will sort it out after I finish here.” 
(With that response, the white middle aged gentleman went off in haste in the opposite direction to his room to wait patiently to be assisted by the staff of the hotel.)

We brushed that aside and did not think much of it as we waited to view the rooms so that we could get a place to stay as dusk was fast approaching. After climbing an elaborate flight of stairs, we got to the single room and looked around for a bit. The room was sizeable but old fashioned and basic, carpeted but pretty dimly lit and with tiny bathrooms. It also did not help that the entire hotel had not been well maintained, so in summary it was nothing to write home about.

My Cousin: “Why is it so dark?”

Male Receptionist: “The lights are off.” (His turning on the lights did not help the situation at all so he headed for the windows only to be cut short midway.)

My sister: “No, it is okay. Let us see the other room.”

Now for a hotel of its stature and history I was disappointed but we did not check out just yet, we asked to see the family room (double occupancy rooms that open from one room to another). 

These rooms are often favored by families that are travelling with their 1 or 2 small children in the group, as was our case. As we went up a stair case, we passed a by a room with an open door and the occupant stormed in our direction towards the door as he had seen the male hotel staffer ahead of us.

Ugandan Occupant (Male): “Sir, there is no water coming from my shower.”

Male Receptionist: “Okay sir, let me finish with these people and get back to you.”
Our party began to giggle and whisper among ourselves as we exchanged looks of shock and disbelief.

My sister: “Sebo do you have a water problem?”

Male Receptionist: “No we do not madam.”

We all shook our heads at this receptionist who was either in denial or there must be some trick he had up his sleeve to keep the water on or off to regulate the customers’ usage - but we did not have time to find all of that out.

All these assumptions and mental pictures I was drawing up were brought to an abrupt halt when the male receptionist opened the door of the family room and let us in. We walked in and it was pretty much the same arrangement as the previous room even matched by the dimly lit ambiance. However, this time he headed straight to the windows and drew the curtains only for one of the windows to be frost covered – or so we thought, until we walked closer and realized it had not been cleaned properly.

My sister: “What is that?”

The receptionist frantically attempted to use his hands to wipe the smudges from poor cleaning off the windows to no avail until he finally simply drew the curtain. At this point my cousin could not hold her laughter in anymore and burst out in giggles. Now aside from the 2 beds and a door that opened into an adjoining room so as the male receptionist used the key and started to open the adjoining room, we were both keen and hesitant on seeing it because silently each of us wondered what could possibly be any worse that what we had seen. But when he turned the door knob all our mouths fell open as we walked in.

My cousin: “A red bed!”

My sister: “Eh, who would want to sleep on a red round bed, is this even standard for a hotel?”
Me: “So how does an adult sleep on it – probably across in the center so that they are sure not to fall off in the middle of the night?”

Male Receptionist: “It is for couples, this is where the parents would sleep and then the children….” (He was cut short by cousin as she said)

My Cousin: “And the pink walls, hihihihi…ehhh, so what you are saying are my husband would sleep here. Hhhm!”

My sister: “Maybe it is the lover’s suite.”

We all burst out in laughter and walked out of the room all the way down the stairs past the reception and out the front door with no hesitation. It is safe to say no one slept on the round red bed as we did not check into the Rock Hotel.


Only in Tororo.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Rasta taxi driver versus the sauna Corporate

Taxis are my sanctuary for comic relief after a long and stressful day but this statement causes many to turn their heads every time this statement escapes from my lips. Anyway let me get back to telling my story, one evening I entered a taxi as I was heading home I found that our driver was a dreadlocked Rasta and this led my stereo types to set in as I expected this to me a very loud and uncomfortable ride. Let me paint you a mental picture of what I expected - whiffs of some kind of funky smell in the air from a joint/ blunt (marijuana as it is commonly known by youth of our day), an uncultured driver and some very loud reggae music. However, much to my surprise the driver was extremely polite, asked his conductor whether there was anyone coming out at every stage we approached while his radio played at a moderate level. There were no fumes of any sort in the interior of our taxi and I was very glad especially given that I am a non smoker.

So as we headed to Ntinda, we got to Hardware world and there was a jam that caused our driver to veer off from the main route and use the side roads common to taxis so as not to be caught in traffic for hours. As the driver exited the main road, we flew from side to side give the uneven surface of all Ugandan side roads, it was as we were a few meters from the Ntinda stage that I heard a familiar song playing in the back ground. Right as I narrowed my eyes and leaned forward struggling to hear the song, the driver raised the volume and I realized that the song playing was ‘All of me’ by John Legend. I smiled as I thought to myself and nearly said out aloud, “This driver has got style.”

We got to the stage without incident aside from the Rasta taxi driver giving the street preacher who stood in the island at the crossroad of Kiwatule – Ntinda, Kisaasi – Nakawa a high 5. I grinned from ear to ear happy and amused that with all my preconceived notions I was wrong for a change and I was glad but in the next instance I was completely spot on.

I decided to go to a sauna at a health club 2 days later to get back some of sanity and let off some steam after the rigorous schedule over the last couple of months. As I headed to the ladies wing to change into more appropriate attire to get into the sauna room, I decided not to prejudge any one I could and would possibly meet that day. After all I had been pleasantly surprised by the Rasta taxi driver who was well mannered and had an exquisite taste in music. I took a brief shower and got dressed and headed into the sauna expecting to zone out and enjoy this quiet time I assumed I would have to myself; given that I had gone there pretty early in the afternoon to beat the usual crowd.

It was a pretty normal afternoon aside from the fact that there was a group of 4 middle aged more women who went into the sauna as a pack and held conversation well above everyone else in the local Gishu dialect. But even they with their disrobing while in the sauna and scrubbing of each other’s back and chest area, I decided not to let them rob me of my peace of mind. There was not much activity as I enjoyed about 2 – 3 rounds of the sauna with 10 – 20 minute breaks in-between but for a middle aged man who I could see at the side of my eye constantly staring at me whenever I got out but I had refused to look in his direction.

I re-entered the sauna and I was glad that the noisy pack of women that I encountered earlier had left. I sat there for approximately 5 minutes as the other occupant walked out to take a break, then walked in the middle aged man with a bit of a belly who had been staring at me and I later found to be corporate from the manner and nature in which he engaged me in the conversation that ensued. There was as a subtle but firm hint of persistence that I felt in his voice every time he spoke to me and it riled me up.

5 – 10 minutes into the session

Male Corporate: “Ehh it is really hot in here!” he commented aloud.

Me: …………… (I responded to this with silence as I did not see the need to respond to his comment since it was not directed to me even though we were the only 2 people in the room.)

Male Corporate: “Isn’t it hot for you?”

Me: “I am used to it.”

Male Corporate: “So do you work out from this gym?”

Me: “No!”

Male Corporate: “Do you come here often?”

Me: “Not really.”

Male Corporate: “You seem quite fit, where do you work out from?”

Me: “Home.”

Male Corporate: “Oh so your place is around here?”

Me: “………….” (Silence because I realized that this corporate was attempting to chat me with a how is the weather type of scenario.)

I remained calm and silent and hoped that he would take the hint and let me be but I guess this fellow had a few loose screws upstairs.

Male Corporate: “You must be very disciplined in your work out.”

Me: “…………”

Male Corporate: “So do you work out alone?” he asked this as he moved closer to me and he leaned to the side so as to be closer to me.

Another gentleman walked in and I took the cue to exit since my 20 minute session was up and I needed to be well on my way.

Me: I paused for a minute and the responded, “Yes I get a better work out that way.”

Then with a grin on my face I got up and walked to the door and let myself out and did not think much of it until I was out of the shower and fully dressed. As I crossed past the rest area right outside the sauna rooms I saw him sitting alert looking from side to side intently watching the doors every time they opened only to see me walk out from the changing area and exit the sauna area to the gym heading to the exit. He stared in my direction baffled at what had just happened and I could see a look of displeasure on his at the one who got away.





Monday, 7 April 2014

The shop attendant who did not know a leotard.

On a random Saturday while looking for a gift for a near and dear friend of mine I was amazed at the level of laxity with which Ugandans do business in this country. I respect business people and defend anyone who wants to go that route and not take on the 8am-5pm job. But this shopping spree was very unusual as you will see below;

Shop 1

Me: “Hello I would like to buy a cute blouse for someone a size bigger than me.”

Female Attendant: Okay, the person is not here.”

Me: “No, but I know their size and I will try on whatever catches my eye and is a bit big for me.”

Female Attendant: “Okay!”

At this point I assumed that this attendant would come over to assist me or point me in the right direction, but I received a rude awakening.

Female Attendant: “There, let me come.”

Me: “Alright!” I wondered what – there meant as I browsed around for anything interesting but to be honest with you as soon as those words escaped her lips and she walked out my perception of that store changed and it was not long before I walked out.”

Shop 2
Me: “Hello!” (As I peered through the window from the road side into the open store from which a colorful blouse caught my eye)

However, after a minute of calling and waiting outside I was sure that the owner did not hear me so I went inside to get some assistance so that I could get the piece from the window display. Much to my surprise when I went up the stairs and into the store I did not catch sight of anyone in the store so as I prepared to turn around and walk away I heard a sigh coming from right below me as a figure rolled over. The store attendant was a few inches in front of me lying on the ground, out like a light – in a deep sleep, I could not believe my eyes. I stayed there for a few more minutes and then walked out but could not help but wonder how many pieces I could have picked and walked away with while she had her mid afternoon siesta.

Shop 3
Me: “Hello, do you have any tops in a size bigger than mine.”

Male Attendant: “Ahhh!” He slowly stood up as he looked around as if to browse through his stock that he should already be fully appraised with but no word escaped his lips.

Me: “Never mind, let me browse through and see if I find anything I like.”

Male Attendant: “Okay!” (He said this as he slowly sat down almost in relief)

I walked to the back of the store browsing through everything and when I got to the extreme back I realized I needed clarification on some pricing. So when I found a young lady in her mid-twenties comfortably sleeping on a heap of jackets and coats I assumed she would be the best person to ask as opposed to walking back to the front.

Me: “Hello I almost did not see you there.” (She shot up from her sleeping position and sat up to face me.) “Do you know how much these 2 items cost?”

Female: “No I do not, I do not work here.”

Me: “Oh sorry to disturb you then, my apologies for t hat mistake.”

Female: “….” (There was no response from her but she eyed me in a contemptuous manner from then on until I left the store)

After a couple of minutes as I was heading to the counter with my 2 interesting finds that I needed  pricing for, a middle aged lady entered the store and cut right in front of me.

Middle aged lady: “Hi, how are you?”

Male Attendant: “I am fine; it has been a while since you were in the store.”

Middle aged lady: “Yes, yes I have not had much time. I was wondering do you have leotards?”

Male Attendant: “Ahh….” (There was silence)

Never in my life have I ever see a man so flushed and unsettled as he looked around his store back and forth with no response for close to a minute. I could not help but grin a little as I noticed this fellah had no idea what this woman was asking for. So after letting him squirm for a bit, I faced the lady at the counter and responded.
Me: “Try that middle section with the spaghetti tops.” (She walked away from both of us with no appreciation whatsoever.)

Male Attendant: “Thanks, I had no idea what that was. What is that exactly?” (He whispered to me as he leaned forward so as not for her to hear him.)

Me: “It is pretty hard to explain I simply have to find one to show you.” I walked to the aisle and pulled out one to show him.”

Male Attendant: “Ohhh, why do they have to use such hard names?”

Me: “That is what they are called.” (I responded with a smile but wondered what type of owner would put such a clueless lad in a clothing store that carried women’s clothing)

That day it seemed that there was no business owner who was out to make money and that is why our brothers from Kenya are going to make a killing when all aspects of the East African Community are fully operational. Ugandans wake up!