This Little Life of Mine

We are beginning to settle into some sort of routine again, now that we’re in Mbale. Or at least as much as one can while sharing a hotel room the size of a very stingy dorm single and eating out every meal. This time around we won’t be pulling up the stakes and moving to a new town, so things are good. Still loving things in Mbale, still smile every time I look up and see the huge mountain, still very happy in my new home.

We’ve found our spot for internet: it’s fast and always empty, the computers are totally legit with brand new mice and keyboards, which goes a long way around here. We’ve found four places with really good (and relatively cheap by our standards) Indian food, dinner is usually one of those three. We found a handful of pretty decent local spots, where we do breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is always eggs and tea, because that’s really the only choice. Lunch is always some combination of: rice, beans, cassava, sweet potato, matooke and meat of one kind or another. Let me tell you though, I will be one happy Mzungu when we move into a house of our own and can cook for ourselves. We have a couple places to go for a beer, mostly the nice resorts in the “ritzy” part of town. We have a gym and two swimming pools for when we really need a little pick me up. We have a few friends our age and similar background to go out with: an Indian guy and two Ugandans bankers who are basically the Ugandan equivalent of I-banking ballers with the lifestyle to match.

I think that’s pretty much it, there isn’t exactly much more to our life than that. I’m struggling to learn to like soccer. I’ve picked a team- Chelsea till I D.I.E.- but really I still couldn’t care less and struggle not to fall asleep during games. We have found the days that the South African satellite TV shows NBA, but we can’t really watch it anywhere because there’s always ten people who would rather watch a no name soccer match.

We found a house and are in negotiations to actually acquire it and move in. The price is right, the location is right, the quality and upkeep of the house are right. It has everything we would expect to be in a house, and even some extras. They said they would throw in a couch and some chairs, some beds, a fridge and a cooker (like a mini-stove) at no extra cost. Why do I have the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop?

This is as good a time as any to describe the process of house hunting here. We have looked at many, many places, both here and in Lira. Most of the places we see are “a bit rustic” and in need of a laundry list of minor repairs. Generally anything that can be broken is in some fashion or another, broken. Windows, tiles, doors, cupboards, light switches, fences, paint. Everything just needs to be fixed up. There is never a refrigerator or stove included; a water heater is a perk worth noting. In one notable case, we were shown what I would call a closet, given the circumstances:

Us: “So this is the bathroom? Umm, isn’t there something missing?”
Him: “No no, it’s all there.”
Us: “There’s no toilet.”
Him: “Well, yes, there is that small detail. You will need to add that, but its there.”
Us: “But there’s not even pipes or a hole in the floor.”
Him: “Well, yes. But it’s there.”

Ok. Whatever. Next house please.

We just met with a SACCO, and may have found the homerun we were looking for on our project. We're going over there this afternoon to help make malewa, which is a food made from bamboo shoots. So far so good, hopefully no catch.


  1. OK, I give up. What is a baller, Luke? I had hoped to figure it out in context because it looked sort of embarrassing but I still don't know and you continue to use it.

    Is it like someone who is a "player"?

  2. A "Baller" as defined by

    Etymology: Middle English 'bal', from Old Norse 'bollr' and akin to Old High German 'balla'; combined with the commin suffix 'er' denoting one that does or performs (a specified action). Therefore, a baller is, literally, 'one who balls'

    Other connotations of the word include:

    1. One who exhibits a consistent proficency at-, or exuberant love for the game of basketball.
    2. One whose person has been fully and successfully established in numerous social circles
    3. One whose status in society has been earned by one's possession of "game" (that is, proficiency at the game of life)

    1. Exhibiting those qualitites of a baller; not limited to the description of a person, 'baller' may be used to describe any place, thing or situation.

    1. "Wanna be a baller, shot caller, twenty inch blades on the impala, caller getting laid tonight..."
    1. "This Sh*t is baller"

    I guess you'd say a baller is like a "mover and shaker," someone who makes things happen.


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