Diary of A Travelling Broke Architect

Sunday 13th – Bushenyi: After weeks of lobbying for a project, I’ve finally given in, the contract though taken, I have yet lessons to learn before I can fully administer a project. After the Bushenyi incident (story for another time), maybe I should let the pros handle the project. Besides, the client’s temperament has given me hind sight. Need to prepare for the business trip to Lyantonde. 

Sunday 13th – Mbarara: Mbarara is expensive. How exactly am I supposed to stay here a night when a room goes for 70,000/- on average. Where is my saving? I met a friend who says the University Inn was affordable. I should try it. It is actually not a bad place. I am pretty sure their target is Travelling students and lecturers. Comfortable and away from the noise of the town. Not bad.

Monday 14th – Mbarara to Lyantonde: I hopped onto a Global bus just after taking my cup of tea. I’ve never had to hold my pee in so bad I felt my bladder almost burst. The conductor says that they only stop at Lyantonde. That’s about 45 minutes. Will I manage? Finally. Longest 40 minutes of my life. Sigh! That was close. Time check – 10:00am, early for the meeting. I shouldn’t use my battery, not sure where or when I will charge. Time check – 12:00pm, finally my business contact arrives. We need to wow the client. Site is extremely huge, exciting. Time check – 2:00pm, finally meet client. He’s a boss, the actual definition. He’s busy so he’ll see us in the evening. Time check – 8:00pm, finally we sit down to discuss. He’s a busy man. 

Tuesday 15th – Lyantonde; Boss man forced as to sleep in Lyantonde. My plans for heading back to Bushenyi have been sidetracked. I was supposed to go back on Monday but new work is new work. Boss man is thrifty but I am excited he’s taken a liking to me. I want to be like boss man when I grow up. So many calls from the Bushenyi contractor, client might be furious. Bushenyi work is smoothly progressing. Have to assemble a new team for the Lyantonde project tomorrow. I’ve been in the same pair of jeans and shirt since last Thurday. Mother is coming over for work tomorrow. Should see her.

Wednesday 16th – Bushenyi to Lyantonde: I finalized the Bushenyi team. In case of anything, they can give me call. The Kampala team headed for Lyantonde should be setting off now.  I miss town. Been getting calls and texts from home. They are wondering if I’ve run away. It’s been a week. Finally saw mum, she looked proud, her son was well off. I should have told her to pack me clothes. Damn it. It’s 3:00pm, Kampala team is just preparing to set off. Bloody bastards. We had agreed for 11:00am. I need to head to site. Finally on site. Boss man thought I had run away. Hahahahahaha. Seriously though. It seems I am stuck this side. I head back to the brothel looking motel I stayed in on Monday evening. Finally the team is here. It’s late but they are here.

Thurday 17th – Lyantonde: the motel didn’t have enough towels. We sat down as a team and discussed the way forward for the work, we are excited. We layed out our markers. We should kick start the project. Boss man is excited that we are a young team. He cracks a joke about how we are not married. It’s hot. Is that rain? 

Friday 18th – Lyantonde: I guess I am stuck this side of town. I have to be in Bushenyi and Mbarara tomorrow. I’ll probably head to Kampala in the evening. Next time I am packing a bag. A very huge bag.

It’s 6:20pm now, how was your week?

 The road most travelled!
 

My current work space!

  

The Chinese Way

Part of growing up is learning to be apart. I haven’t been home in over a week and it’s taken a toll on my family members, most especially my siblings. We are a close knit bunch of separatists. While growing up, we were all in boarding school such that the only time we have ever been together at home is as recent as 2014. 2014 marked the year when all my parents’ children all lived under the same roof for the whole year without being apart and as we slowly enjoyed the togetherness, we are now all old enough to leave the coop.

I’ve been away from home a week now I get calls from my siblings, which didn’t happen before, because we were never around each other to have a decent conversation. We don’t know how to be siblings other than to be siblings. Our relationships are like strange tides, we know how to be siblings yet we choose our own solace. We know how to be siblings by being apart. But 2014 changed all that. We became one instead of five. We enjoyed our silence and presence which we had never been and we enjoyed it. We learnt how to become one instead of individuals and one week away from home has shown that we are still enjoying that being we now don’t know how to be apart. 

On site today, I met some Chinese contractors. They were so far away from home and yet they felt right at home. They had turned the site into their home and they had installed some cultural ornaments all over the place. It looked amazing. They were growing their own vegetables, they had made their own furniture, they had a fruit garden, they were right at home. They even cooked for themselves. While they worked and went about their things on site, one of them would walk away and go water the plants, weed the garden, do, little mulching and planting. They even had seedling beds for carrots and onions. 

Amazed at how simple the things that made them feel at home, I was inspired to start doing the same thing. I want to start my own little vegetable garden, I want to design and build my own furniture. I want to make my space my home. Maybe I can learn the Chinese way. Maybe I should learn the Chinese way. 

Village Chronicles

“Agandi,” she greets.

“Turya’aho,” they retort.

I’ve never been greeted by this many number of strangers in my lifetime, when not at a party. I wonder at how courteous the people here are and why they randomly greet you. 

Unlike Kampala where it’s rush hour almost every hour, the village is more slow and peaceful the here people have time to greet you. Maybe because there are less stresses here than they are in Kampala. I don’t know why but every time I use the village taxi, and we stop to pick up someone, the first thing they do is greet the whole taxi. And we move on, and we pick up someone who greets us again, and this continues until I finally reach my destination.

I’ve been here almost a week now and every time I feel like leaving this place, I get held up. I am not complaining and truth is, I am enjoying it. I wished to be a wanderer some time again and in these past two days, I’ve been to Mbarara, Lyantonde and back to Bushenyi. Obviously accommodation has been my greatest challenge and at some point I slept in what I would call a brothel seeing as the quality of the covers was susceptible and the bar music playing was just right next door. Yes, a door away. Luckily, power went off but unfortunately I had barely charged any of my gadgets. 

Being out of Kampala is an amazing thing I have now noticed. There’s something ethereal about being on the road, interacting with people, speaking half a dozen broken languages…trust me, they are half a dozen…and having those moments where you are just to yourself, dreaming. 

Anyway…I finally found a place with wifi, in Bushenyi, surprise surprise. I best be leaving now, I need to get back on the Road.

  

Wedding Meetings

I’ve always frowned upon these things called wedding meetings. I always felt that they were a scam created by unprepared couples to stifle the little resources families didn’t have.

But that changed today.

This was a couple that had decided to take that step into the very frightening institution of marriage. Our parents have made and made their marriage look easy peasy that growing up into this reality is quite frightening. I mean, how do you know that they are the right person? Will it work out? And the little mini-mes?!

Anyway, I was forced to accompany her to a friend’s wedding meeting. She had been given the position of secretary and thus couldn’t even skip any of the meetings. I being the gentleman, decided to escort her to the meeting seeing as it also affected our evening plans later.

On reaching the venue, we found our place at front seeing as that was where she would be seated. The gathering, small, all family members made their way to the seats. We were welcomed to the third meeting and given updates to what was happening and how much we needed. The chairman, not as verbose but with a cunning charm while using his words gave us updates on the ongoings. The groom’s friends cheered and hollered from the back. 

There was a pulpable excitement that resonated within the room it rubbed off me. I felt that I too should be a part of this, help celebrate and animate in whatever way this step into the endless abyss of love. I quickly looked around for some little change and participated in whatsoever the game or function it was. I was excited, and suddenly, I felt that I too would one day be here, and when the time came, I hoped that I’d have family and friends cheering for me.

My ridicule to this rather common activity has softened albeit I feel a decision such as this should find me as prepared and ready to go as I need to be which is unfortunate because matters of the heart can never be planned for.

Anyway, all the best to this happy couple and soon, to us.