Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Silly Season Is Here

December is finally upon us and it heralds the start of the silly season. I call it the silly season because Christians take leave of their senses, just like the Muslims do when the return from the pilgrim to Mecca.

I suppose I could have called Simba FMs Aga Sekalala and asked why it is that when somebody returns from Mecca, an entourage of at least 40 to 50 people, a convoy of 20 cars that includes buses, vans and trucks are dispatched to Entebbe Airport to meet them. But for the lack of airtime I didn’t. I was down to sh200 which is ‘beeping’ airtime. Nevertheless I did beep him a couple of times but alas, he never called back. Perhaps he does not respond to beeps?

A few weeks ago – 13 November to be precise, I was in Entebbe with an ambition of spending a relaxing afternoon there.

But the afternoon was hardly relaxed for just about every square inch of Entebbe was taken up by Muslims who had come to meet their people back from Mecca. Cars were decorated, people had dressed up to the nines in their Sunday best and just about every hotel or restaurant had struck a certain item of meat off the menu because it was bound to offend them.

So the car did a u-turn back to Kampala to avoid getting entangled in a traffic jam and ended up parking in Soya, Bunga – at Joy’s where three ribs ‘n’ebigenderako’ (accompaniments) went down.

Back to the silly season proper. Any HR Manager with her head screwed on properly would by now be thinking of the end-of-year office party. Some stingy companies throw parties only for their staff while others, throw open the gates and invite their clients too.

The lady who is in-charge of HR at New Vision is the amiable Kathy who is backed up by a vivacious lady called Gloria. Last year I was not invited to the office party which led me to believe I was either a persona non grata or that Motorcycle Courier simply kept my invite and used it himself. Perhaps this year they will remember me and seeing that my surname starts with the letter ‘B’, I should be at the top of the list – on the second page or at worst, the third. You see by the time they make the list out in alphabetical order, the mind is still fresh so why forget me? They should be forgetting people whose names are further down the alphabet like Ssewankambo, Kakaire, Lukwago, Keyeunye, Muzee and Mulira for example.

As it’s the silly season, the whole idea is to get through the month without spending a dime on a swallow. Ok, I can feel my dad reaching for his phone to ask what a swallow is. A swallow is a beer or any form of alcoholic beverage. And dad please don’t follow up by asking where the name came from because I don’t know.
To get into a position where you find yourself invited to at least three office parties in a week, you have to have an invitation card. Anybody who is a CEO, MD or say a CFO will no doubt get an invite. That is automatic. It is us the plebs who, have to scratch about looking for them.

Talking of the big guns, Allen Kagina who heads Uganda Revenue Authority must have a very happy personal assistant. You see, Ms Kagina is a mulokole and with that, her life revolves round trying to ‘fleece’ us of as much money (a very un-mulokole to do if you ask me) as possible for something called taxes and then going to church on Sunday presumably to ask for forgiveness for fleecing us blind. Better sill for her PA, Ms Kagina does not go out so why would she need the invitation cards to the Club Silk, Boda Boda, Cayenne or Shell Club end of year parties? Such invitations, PA won’t even bother telling her. She will just slip them into her bag, call her friends and that will be that.

When William Pike was still head of New Vision, though he was not a major player in the hanging out circles, he nevertheless did get a number of invites. And the key to Pike was to time him just at the right moment. Obviously Camilla at reception kept me appraised as to the number of invitation cards that flowed in for him. If there was an invite that I wanted, the best time to approach him was after lunch. I would storm his office under the pretext of asking for some information for a story I am writing and somewhere in there, ever so deftly, I’d mention a party to which he would say: “I got a card here, do you want it?” And that would be that.

At some parties I used to hear whispers along the lines of: “I always thought Pike was a muzungu. Turns out he is black after all.” At one company party that I attended using Pike’s invitation, I was invited by Newly Arrived in Town Wifey of CEO to a party at their house the following weekend. I went and when I got there, as I walked through the house and out the back to the pool where the party was being held, Newly Arrived in Town Wifey of CEO announced that: “Now that William Pike is here, let the party begin.”

There was an awkward silence. Newly Arrived in Town Wifey of CEO had yet to meet the bona fide Pike and seeing that it was her at the entrance of the earlier function I attended and it was her who had ticked me off, she just assumed I was Pike. For the rest who did know Pike, they simply smiled, coughed out loud and howled until Angelica Arden (I wonder where she is now) put her foot in it and I was rumbled. Good thing was that Newly Arrived in Town Wifey of CEO had a sense of humour. On Monday morning back in the office, the first call I got came from Pike asking if it was a difficult job impersonating him.

This year, I have already secured myself two invites from Swivel Marketing and a company called Oregon whom I have never heard of but will nevertheless attend seeing an invite is an invite – not so? It would rude not to attend. I also have some friends at Vero so an invite from Paulo Lukwago or the mullah himself – Mr. Katongole should land on my desk but seeing they are a mineral water company, I wonder how many bottles of water I will be able to knock back before I get bloated.

The Phado has also left National Housing to do his own thing, so I don’t foresee an invitation coming from them. So far this year things are looking pretty bleak in the invite department.

But I have my plan B and that is to loiter at reception and make off with any invitation card that has not been picked up by the rightful owner after two days.
It would also be helpful if companies inviting me considered location. Anything from Kansanga onwards is fine with me - like Speke Resort Munyonyo, Hotels International and Diplomate which are near home for I am not keen on being pulled over by the police breathalyzer units who I am sure will be lurking at Mukwano roundabout, Electoral Commission, Kira Road ready to nab me as I drunkenly try to drive home after an office party that was held at Kabira Country Club, Cayenne, Sheraton or Serena Hotel.

By the way, I took a small break from typing this cowardly tale and went for a haircut. I didn’t go to my usual place – Baskuru’s but to a new place in Kansanga. Barber was all about attention to detail. After trimming my goatee, he trimmed my eye brows then, jammed the machine into my ears and nose - mbu to “to trim away some offending hair follicles.” To make matters even worse, he whipped out a tooth brush and brushed my eye brows! A melee should have gone down, but I was so stunned and shocked, I just froze in the chair. Real men don’t have their eye brows trimmed. But eek, I had hair growing out of my nose and ears? That is sad, really sad and I feel embarrassed at the thought!

At least I am now looking good for any office parties that might happen this week. Kathy and Gloria don’t forget me and to Editor Esther, seeing that you don’t swallow, can I have your beer coupons?

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