Monday February 24 2014

LIVING AND LOVING IT: We need to complain less and be more thankful



By Carol Beyanga

There is a time to complain. And there is a time to be thankful. Today, I choose to do the latter. Goodness knows we need to do more of that! So here goes.

Hospitable Ugandans
At the end of last week, I happened to be tuned into KFM and heard the Nigerian comedian Gordons doing his thing with Pablo on the morning show. He was asked the question every foreigner is asked before they have even spent a day in the country:

“What are your first impressions of Uganda?” He said something about Ugandans keeping time, and we all thought he was lucky to have met a few Ugandans who watch their clocks, because many lovely people in this country do not do that. He also said Ugandans are very hospitable people. I couldn’t agree more.

We have our flaws, many of them, but one thing I like about us is we really are friendly. It does not matter whether you are in the middle of Kampala Road or deep in Ngetta village in Lira, people will always smile when you greet them, are willing to help with directions or advise you on the best place to go to. They will offer you a meal, a good bargain (as long as you are nice) and generally make you feel welcome. We really do rock this hospitable business.

The ageing car
Our car that we have been in possession of for eight years now, is beginning to show signs of stress and old age. Hubby has maintained it very well, but even with the best mechanics, a machine will at some point begin to wear and tear a bit more often than you would like.

The last six months have been quite trying. We’ve been replacing parts frequently, hearing odd noises one time too many, and having the car stall on us regularly. The last time it did so, we just looked at each other knowing what the other was thinking. It was time to start planning to let it go.

We love the machine dearly but the last few weeks have been exasperating. I have even been scared of driving it alone, thinking something might go terribly wrong in the middle of a traffic jam.

However, when we started the morning trips to drop our daughter at her new school, I stopped complaining too much about the car. The dust on the road to the school is legendary. It rises thick and fast in the air and gets really bad during pick-up and dropping times, we have to switch the headlights on, as you are not able to see more than 20 metres ahead.
And so every day we drive on that road, I actually feel guilty about having a car. My heart feels for the children who have to walk to school.

They cover their heads up with sweaters and scarves. Others tie handkerchiefs across their face. And yet others tie nothing. I wonder how the daily dust affects their lungs, eyes and nasal area. It is at this point that I am very grateful for our old, cranky car.
So today, do less complaining and more thanking.