Africa calling

I badly sprained my thumb last week playing football, and have since learnt to cut fruit, pick up my kids, and drive my motorbike with just my left hand.

None of these things are proving easy, and so fruit intake is down (alcohol imbibing seems to be fine with just the one hand), Florence and Martha are surviving on a few less rides on Daddy’s shoulders, and my bike has been under wraps given it is just plain nuts trying to ride a bike in one of Asia’s most hectic motorbike cities when you have to throttle with the opposite appendage.

Typing is also rubbish.

I am overdue some updates on this site, and will remedy that soon, one of the main highlights this month being Flo’s birthday, and a second highlight being the daily rain showers in Saigon, which have meant temperatures have chilled and there have been occasions when even the jacket had to come out of the wardrobe.

Right now it is past midnight on Sunday, and am on the eve of yet another hop tomorrow over to Bangkok, and a week of meetings…

It’s been one month exactly since my last blog on this site (which sounds like a confession box statement) and, in truth, this one right now is mainly a cheap shot at ensuring something is posted for September.  However, it was triggered also by a conversation I just had on my mobile with an old friend of mine from Uganda, Michael Kibu.

His father was the reason I was able to live and work in Kiboga back in 1996 – a year during which my senses were switched on to Africa.  I miss Uganda, Michael, his family, and all things connected to those experiences, dearly.

Michael’s call was out of the blue, and in my current world where everything is moving at pace, it literally stopped me in my tracks (whilst sat in my apartment).  My every fibre was alert and lapping up each word in our exchange, for a precious few seconds.

Whilst technology allows us the most privileged connections sometimes, there is something very sincere, timeless and nostalgic when a voice you haven’t heard for a while is suddenly at the end of the line.  17 years was compressed into that moment, and the world paused whilst I stared at chair in front of me, craning my ear harder into the piece of metal and minerals that was somehow allowing words spoken in a remote village in East Africa to dance around in my head.

Michael now has a third child, Samuel, who was born last year.  Bob and Jane are his middle and eldest respectively – Jane is about to start secondary school and Bob has sadly struggled with what sounds like a debilitating brain condition brought on my malaria for the past two years.

I can’t bear the thought of hearing that news about Bob.  I recall how charismatic he was when I met him, aged two, on a return visit to the village there in 2005.  I gave him a toffee at the time, and remember him spending an hour eating it and getting it all over his clothes in a state of delirious, sugar-fuelled merriment.

Michael always ends his emails to me “God bless you”.  He was equally gracious and faithful in his words on the phone just now.  Thanking me for simply answering it, and sending sincere greetings to my family.

I think we all need those moments when someone like Michael levels the chaotic playing field for us.

Sometimes this can happen when you read something, or hear a story about an incident or situation that underscores just what an expansive, yet incredibly small world it is that we all inhabit.  Lucky for me, I got my fix and dose of reality from an old friend, at the end of busy weekend when I should have been tucked up in bed.

Am glad I wasn’t.

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