Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Day 3

In which I get pick pocketed…twice.

The four of us living in the lower guesthouse ventured out to the capital city of Kampala accompanied by a very nice Ugandan man from the institution. We went by public transport, which involves very rickety vans with about 14 passenger seats. According to my guidebook, Kampala is nicer than other east African capitals such as Nairobi and Dar es Salaam. If that’s true, I’m not in any rush to see Nairobi or Dar, as Kampala was crowded, dirty, and ugly. But that’s just the spoiled snob in me coming out, I’m sure.

We ran a few errands in the city, had lunch, and then headed to the Bugandan kingdom’s administrative center for a festival held on the palace grounds. Uganda is ruled by a president, but the country is composed of several ancient kingdoms, the biggest of which is the kingdom of Buganda. Kampala is located in the Bugandan kingdom, so when the British colonized the country, they gave almost all administrative power to Bugandans. We went to visit the Bugandan parliament (not to be confused with the Ugandan parliament) and the palace of the Bugandan king. We didn’t actually see any of the palace, but there was a sort of festival on the grounds that involved animals in small cages, food, shopping, and live musical performances. I think it was while looking at the animals in cages that my wallet was stolen, though I didn’t realize it for several hours. It was at that time that I noticed the out flap of my bag had been undone, but my cellphone was still in its spot. I had a glance inside the bag, and my iPod and stuff were still there. I thought my wallet was tucked further down, and I didn’t bother verifying that, but I think now that it was probably on top, thus within easy reach of sneaky fingers.

I continued to check my phone periodically throughout the day, so I’m not sure exactly when it was stolen, but much later in the day. I remember using it to check the time at 5:30pm, so it must have been soon after that.

Grr. I just feel like such a moron. And a target. First I miss my flight, then I get pick pocketed twice in one day. What next? I shudder to think of the possibilities. I’m a paranoid person naturally, so I’ve been slightly on edge since I arrived here, but now I feel all that much more vulnerable. I feel like nothing is safe, even if locked up. I need to practice non-attachment. If Jesus’s wallet had been stolen, he would have just shrugged it off and moved on. If Jesus ever even had a wallet to start with.

But it’s not so bad. The cell phone was four years old and didn’t have a Ugandan SIM card in it yet. It’ll suck to have to recollect everyone’s phone numbers, but people lose phones all the time. The wallet had my US credit card and UK debit card, my driver’s license, $40 and 40,000 Ugandan shillings (about $20), and nothing else of much value, all replaceable. It’s a hassle to have to close accounts, especially from abroad, and especially because the phone system in the guesthouse is run through the institution’s switchboard, which only operates during business hours, Monday through Friday. Great system, huh? No one told me this until yesterday, so if there had some emergency here, I would have had no idea that I would need a cell phone to call the police. Scary.

My housemates were super supportive and paid for everything for me for the rest of the day. Bryoni offered her cell phone to call the banks, and Roya gave me a chocolate bar and decided that we needed to go out clubbing to cheer me up. So when we got back to Entebbe, we changed clothes and headed to the two decent nightclubs in town. Myth: All African people can dance. Some African men dance just as badly as white men. It was much like clubbing in London, except that everyone stared at us and I'm pretty sure I saw a cockroach scuttling across the floor. Fun times.

A few pictures of my first days.

1 comment:

  1. This is a good time to practice, as you mention, non-attachment. You are surrendering to reality. It's a freeing experience, isn't it?
    It's great you have supportive friends there. Give them each a high-five for me.
    Also interesting is that you seem to go to dance clubs to unwind, instead of, say, going home and reading a book. It's like I don't even know you anymore! Hahaha