About Me

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I teach abroad and continue to pursue the life I was given as if it was my last. Many people think it is. In my spare time, I enjoy lapping up ice cream, reading spy novels, and euthanizing manta rays.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Morning Blasts

I had a nice little day planned. Trip to the embassy, mail a couple letters, go to my favorite cafe, do a crossword puzzle, maybe a double shot of espresso to get me going. Or, I could hide out in my compound because another protest held the city hostage all day.

By ten a.m., the battered and beleaguered rival, Kizza Bessige had been rumored dead. This led to a surge of violent protests, especially in my area of town, in and around Jinja Road, leading up to the east campus gate. I heard explosions nearer and closer than I have to date. Loud booms were followed by shrieks of terror and tremulous voices from within the university. The police had surrounded the area. The shrieks were not too dissimilar to the ones heard at county fairs, where whimsical teens flew up and down on zephyrs high on cotton candy. But without the cotton candy. And the zephyrs.

I was outside drinking coffee and correcting papers when the bullets started flying, the tear gas started hazing, and the screams started - frankly - freaking me out. I got up and watched the procession move from east to west, some running, others walking rapidly...away from the fray.

After a chat with Dan and a text message from the embassy, I turned on the TV to get the eyewitness reports of..........................Kate Middleton's long awaited dress design. On every channel. No news flashes. No bottom line ticker underneath the scene at Trafalgar Square. Just wall to wall coverage of "A Royal Wedding." By lunch time the disquieting sensory overload had been replaced by a random flare of gunfire here and there. The violence had spread throughout the city though, 1 death was reported (not Bessige's) and scores of others wounded. A lone helicopter bore down on the epicenter of the action a couple miles east of my compound. I went to the campus ATM and saw 22 people waiting in line. Students were standing outside lecture halls, frozen in place, listening for warnings of approaching danger, calling family, wondering how they were getting home, like me, cornered and sequestered from violence but also unavailable to leave campus lest more protests erupted.

Poetically, just as Anderson Cooper was reeling me onto the sofa for the long awaited bride to arrive at Westminster Abbey, our power went out for a solid two hours, squandering my chances to enjoy "A Royal Wedding." Really, I was only watching to see if they'd show flashbacks to 1981 and Charles' elongated neck and Mad Magazine ears. I loved that era.

In any event, business resumed as usual by three p.m., although off campus reports of police blockades and sporadic clashes have precluded me from leaving the area. I stocked up on paw paw, chapatti, pork sausages and Nile Specials just in case I can't leave, but I'm pretty sure things will be back to normal by dusk if not sooner.

And, in fact, they are. Have a nice weekend.

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