Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Bathroom Scale Beggars

Mateo’s bar, in the middle of Kampala. Usually after 9pm, onto past midnight, that is when you will see them. Kids, boys, age range ten to early teens. Each with a bathroom scale, accosting the customers on the roadside bar.

Ostensibly, they are providing a service. They ask whether you want your weight taken. If you do, they put down the scale, and you step on it, and in return give them a coin. 100 Uganda shillings (about a twentieth of a USD) is their prize.

In fact they are begging.

The crowd is affluent. Mateo’s is mid to upper class. A popular hangout. Doesn’t hurt that it is on Parliamentary Avenue, in the middle of town, and that it spills out its clientele on the roadside, with the new Chogm lights giving the place a kind of open door ambience. Drive in, with cars carelessly packed on the street, lining it. Turning it from the hectic business district that it is during the day, to a hangout. Popular and populated.

So they take advantage of it.

Or rather, their parents take advantage of it. A well dressed crowd pouring out money on drink. Here comes a kid, scruffy, armed with a bathroom scale, and asking to weigh you. They are persistent. You look down, and there he is, by your side, cutely looking up in your face, thrusting the bathroom scale at you.

‘Want to know your weight?’

Of course we are all soft hearted towards kids. Some will look away, and the kid will take the hint. Some will look in surprise, brush him off with a coin, or, intrigued, he or she would discover that they do want to know their weight there, right then, on a Saturday evening when they were out chilling. And of course, if one does, why not the whole group? The kid smiles, and rakes in the loot. Ladies, they do look put out if they don’t get to know their weight at that particular moment. Make sure the poor kid goes home with at least a coin in hand. And there are others who just give them the money, without the excuse of knowing their weight.

Life is full of challenges.

I wonder what would make me send out my child to beg? What kind of necessity, but a desperation that I have yet to really understand.

The bathroom scale beggars are fairly well off. The families of women and children that man the streets downtown during the day and early evening are more chilling. They line the streets, at a regular 5 meters or so. Children, 2, 4, 6 years of age. Clearly a family. Ragged clothes, the older girls babysitting a toddler, and the mother, somewhere within the vicinity. A suckling infant in her arms. Where are the men? Bad question.

The bouncers (security) at Mateos know the kids. And they play a game of hide and seek, cat and mouse with them. When they are busy, the kids slip in, under the rope, to get to the customers tables. When the bouncers realize that they are there, they take a few steps towards them, and the children disappear- as quickly and silently as they appeared.

The more regular customers kind of brush them off. Too common a sight, they are invisible with the familiarity of the common. But they will usually manage to get a few coins. Which reminds me of Sherlock Holmes’ beggar. Begging is a lucrative profession, if you can but manage to do it.

Err, bloggers are having their monthly bloggers hour. At Mateos at a very unfashionable hour. Thursday at 6 pm! You guys are just nerds or what? I can understand Princess being reluctant to take the alcohol laden breaths at other times, but 27th? Revolutions are made in dinky, smoke wreathed rooms, with lots of alcohol.

I cant promise that I will be there, or not, but mind reserving a chair for me, 27th?

GayUganda

37 comments:

Princess said...

You hung out at Mateo's a lot, huh?
Thursday? 6 pm?
I'm afraid my jeans and t-shirt ensemble will give me away faster than I can say,"Hey! Is that 27th?"

So, no, I'm not begging off because of the alcohol: I'd rather just observe without being seen.

DeTamble said...

You can go Princess. It's safe. Since I'm not going...that could be awkward. And my jaw is still rather bruised.

gayuganda said...

I will sock her for you deT.

And she wanted go incognito?

[sigh]

Princess said...

You want to sock ME, gug?

You're taking this big brother thing a little too seriously! LOL.

gayuganda said...

oh yes,

dont mess with MY sister. Even you.

You've already got your knight, I am hers till I hand her over to 27th 'officially'. He hasnt asked, by the way...

Princess said...

Hey DeT, why don't you prod 27th into asking? :D

gayuganda said...

DeT doesnt know the intricacies of courtship, Uganda style.

She doesnt know that she needs my permission too!

and as for 27th, wait till he knows that I am now his prospective 'muko'!

Princess said...

He will doubtless have some hilarious quip at the ready.:D

gayuganda said...

Where is he,

and where is DeT?

Bet she will also have a LOT to say about these new developments.

Bet she didnt know that when she asked for a brother. And I am not resigning from that post!

Princess said...

Oh, DeT, will be back, you can count on that.Donno about 27th...

gayuganda said...

I will wait, huh! For the explosion...

DeTamble said...

Good, you sock her one for me!! Or, you could be really evil and pull her hair :-D Oh, actually no, don't pull her hair. That's just nasty. Even I would never sink as low as to pull another girls hair. Scratch her face, sure! But never the hair :-|

Sorry I was gone...Trust condom ads on YouTube are a very powerful light to my moth brain.

I'm going to prod him into asking :P Poor 27th, no more sneaking around for us anymore, looks like he's gonna have to bite the bullet and ask MY brother! Hahahaha, do you think he can muster that kind of courage?

DeTamble said...

*I'm NOT going to. Stupid fingers skipping IMPORTANT words!!

Princess said...

DeT, I think we'll go with your first answer, LOL.
You ARE going to ask him...

The 27th Comrade said...

:-o

And my left eyelid was doing a jig, and I didn't know why, and now I find out why. :o) And it is because you were talking about me.

Lessee ...

@GUG: You have a seat. :o) Once, this year, I convinced everyone that you'd show up. And your seat lasted long, but it went when we all realised you weren't showing up. You have fans who never comment, by the way. And yet they are girls. :o( I could use the girl fans, but I don't write verse, me. The guy who writes is ... gay. God giveth, they say, those who want not. :o)
By the way, I remember hearing that Mateo's was one of the gay-friendly places, or something. I don't remember exactly. But if it is, you'll not be totally surrounded. No guns allowed, also.

(I spit at them weighing scale kids, by the way. Evil little liars! I'm not that fat!!! (o:)

@Princess: You, you can't hide. Many of the regulars started out as incognito spies, but we figured them out real easy. Me, I can tell it is Princess from just the breathing rate. :o) Much of one's character seeps out of the blog, people under-estimate that.

@DeTamble: Fly in! Fly in and surprise us! And Princess will be caught off-guard. Surprise element of the battle strategy, you know. :o)

@GUG: I'll bring a chicken, and you'll cut it and DeTamble will give me the gizzard (or something). You remember that post of yours that had something similar? (Late last year, before my hiatus.) Yeah, that's what I'll do. Just give me the girl! *kneels or whatever* Gimme her hand, ssebo muko ... :o)

DeTamble said...

@27th: Gizzard? That's gross Comrade! You at least deserve a breast.

@Princess: No, we won't be going with that first one. It'll be the second!

I would love to fly in...anyway have a spare $1000? No? Anyone? Didn't think so.
Oh well. I'm sure I will...one day. That should give you all a nice shock! :-)

Princess said...

What! 27th! You think I'd give myself away by breathing heavily, like some sorta thief?
I'd have to dress and act the nonchalant part of everyday customer...and I'd fit right into the crowd that's usually there-
If I were coming that is,...which I'm not.

Princess said...

The gizzard's a special delicacy here, DeT.

DeTamble said...

I think your breathing would give you away too. It would be a little quicker, with all that pent up rage and your feisty personality. You total psycho :-D

Princess said...

Pent-up rage? Oh, I let it out, isn't your bruise proof enough? :D
Feisty? Psycho?I'll take those as compliments...

DeTamble said...

@Princess: I don't care how special the gizzard is. Since I'm Australian and not Ugandan we're just going to have to compromise. I'll let you lot have the chicken cutting ceremony with the asking thing...but no gizzard shall there be.

They are compliments :-D Bruise me again and I'll let MY brother punch you. Actually no, I won't. I'll fuck you up myself! *wonders how strong you are and if it'd be possible to pin you to a wall and kiss you*

Princess said...

Nope, not possible.LOL.
The pinning maybe, you wouldn't survive attempting to kiss me though. :D

DeTamble said...

Why? Would you try to bite me? Will my lip bleed? You'll have my blood on your lips then.

Princess said...

I'd use my forehead and then your blood would be on my face...

*Yikes! Equally unsavoury thought!

The 27th Comrade said...

Oh, come on, Princess! :o)
Let her, let her. ;o)

I like me a nice pair o' girl a-kissin'.

@Princess: Of course I'd be looking for the girl with the easy breathing. Everybody else would not be breathing normally ... except if they are trying too hard to bland in, like you'd be doing. :o) You cannot hide.

DeTamble said...

So long as my blood is on you :P SUCKER!!!

Probably a good idea if we never attend the same UBHH...you know I'm just going to try to get you drunk ;-)

DeTamble said...

*has solved the problem* I'll pin you to the wall and wrap your now long hair around my hand so you won't be able to move your head without seriously hurting yourself...all mine.

Where have you gone GUG?

Princess said...

@ 27th: Blend.Bland. I like that play on words.That is of course, if it was even intentional...
And you's too smart, that's why I ain't coming. :D
@ DeT: and the prize for bull-like tenacity goes to....

DeTamble said...

Oh! I know the answer! Is it me?? What's the prize? Is it you??

Princess said...

So, I lied.
*shrug
I could snap you like a twig with no trouble. :D
[ask DK about my pugilist tendencies]
There's NO way, you could pin me to a wall OR grab a hold on my hair!

Your brother's working-

Princess said...

It's one of those plaque award things, :D.
Good only for showing-
Definitely not me.

DeTamble said...

*sighs* Ohhh :-( Fine. *goes to sit on GUGs lap* I'm gonna sneak up on her and sock her next time!

Princess said...

Go on, get off of his lap.He's busy...Aren't you, GUG?

DeTamble said...

Fine, I'll leave him alone. I'll go hang with Comrade and try some Trust.

:P Kidding!

Princess said...

Trust?

DeTamble said...

Trust :-) New post at mine.

31337 said...

this is well written! off to skulk about some more.

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