Circumcision and staring contests!

I make friends easily, that has never been a problem.  However, lately I have discovered that I also tend to attract some queer characters to my welcoming nature.

In my previous posts, I have shared about sexual harassment  and a Gypsy who got too close.

I don’t know why I can’t shake off weirdos, but on the other hand if I didn’t meet these people, perhaps this blog wouldn’t be alive.

So recently, I met a self-confessed circumcised Mzungu.

No, it’s not what you think. No one got naked for this conversation.

Here is what really happened…..

While rushing to the bus stop from my Swedish For Immigrants classes (SFI) a man waved at me. I didn’t wave back because I assumed he was waving at someone else. He later caught up with me and coincidentally headed towards the same direction. We even got into the same bus and interestingly sat together. I knew immediately this could not be a Swedish native. We began talking and I found out he was from Bosnia. So we shared a little about where we both came from and everything was just working out fine until he announced : “I circumcised!” I wasn’t sure what was more strange. His broken English or his revelation on his manhood. I looked around to see if there was any English speaker eaves dropping on our conversation but everyone was busy doing the Swedish thing to do in a bus; staring at their phones and avoiding eye contact.

Ambushed by a gypsy!

I couldn’t hide my shock and so I asked him why he sharing such personal information. Well, he revealed that he was just sharing something that would be similar to my culture and apologised. He further revealed that he had a girlfriend and would not do anything funny to a girl he had just met. I believed him and frankly speaking I might have misunderstood him due to language barrier. Still, that was one strange conversation.

Then there is this guy I like to call MR Climate….

I first met Mr Climate at the stop outside my gym. He tried to get me to sign up for some climate movement worth sh 770 (70kronner) but I declined. He asked me a little about myself.  I’m such a polite character when I’m in a new country so I spared him some of my precious time. I liked him. At least he didn’t ask if elephants and lions walk in the streets in Kenya.  I forgot about him l I bumped into him again at Centrum (Gothenburg’s CBD) . This time I was in a hurry to catch a tram to a meeting. He tried to sell the same thing and I reminded him that we had met before. That’s when I realised something was totally wrong with him. He stared at me, sized me up then asked: “Are you going to see your friend?”

I could see the tram approaching so made it obvious that I was in a hurry. He didn’t get my point and so he asked: “Do you want me to go away?”

Ofcourse I wanted him to go. Luckily the Tram stopped and I hopped in as soon as it stopped. I couldn’t handle that small talk anymore! I met him two weeks ago while headed to the library. This time he remembered me. He wanted to know why I was so smartly dressed and if I was going to visit my friend. I did not respond. I had nothing to say and so he walked away after minutes of staring. I pray that I won’t meet him again!

Kisakwa wants me to quit smoking!

 

cancer stick

I had been smoking for seven years and somehow thought that my parents would ever find out.

But, it turns out I’m not that smart after all.

I know I’m old enough to make all the bad decisions in life without thinking about my parent’s approval but there is that ka-feeling. I really can’t explain it. You must be African to understand it!

So, this is how I got caught.

A few weeks before I relocated to Sweden, I decided to move back to the folk’s house in Ngong, Kenya.

I had just resigned from Standard Group so I had so much time in my hands. If I wasn’t working out at the local gym, I was chilling at home during the day enjoying the sun and cold breeze in my mother’s little orchard.

Circumcision and staring contests!

I rarely smoke in my parent’s compound but since they are always at work, I decided to smoke as I watched my sister work on her designs.

I got so comfortable that I even brought out the whole packet of cigarettes and lay them on the little Makuti coffee table. Then I went back to the house to collect something and when I came out I heard my sister say:

“They are not mine. They are Catherine’s.”

Shit!

It was Kisakwa. Mbithe, Mukei, Musyoka, Kimina, Mbaiyu and Syombua’s uncle. My dad!

No one heard him open the gate.

Such a sneaky parent!

He drove in quietly and decided to park under a shed just next to the gate. Who does that? What if he had caught me smoking weed?There must be a law somewhere in the Kenyan constitution that requires parents to call before they get home. To avoid unnecessary heart attacks!

So anyway, I avoided him the rest of the afternoon and generally in the evening. I actually thought to myself that he would be more understanding because when I was younger I used to run to shops to get him some ‘tumonzo’s’ when he needed some. I had to be careful not to get caught by my grandpa. Grandpa loathed smokers!

But he wasn’t letting it pass just like that. Before going to bed in the evening he passed by my bedroom and shouted:

“Catherine! When did you start smoking?”

“Those were not my cigarettes. A friend left them in my house and I found them today when I was unpacking,” I responded.

We never talked about that again and I sincerely thought he had bought my story until today. Three months later.

He texted me to check on me and things when he informed me that he was watching a Cancer doctor on TV. At first, I thought he was going to tell me how cancer has killed many people we know. But this text came through: “I hope you stopped smoking!”

I just laughed. I could not deny it. He caught me. I told him the truth. That Cigarettes are expensive in Sweden. I may not have answered his question but at least I told the truth!

 

 

 

I took poultry to a Swedish classroom!

 

SFI session

In Sweden you can tell off the teacher for ‘overteaching’ and actually walk out and come back to class. Yes, that’s a thing I learnt  at SFI (Swedish for Immigrants).

I recently began my journey of getting integrated into the Swedish System. So far I have my personnummer (Swedish Identification Number), ID number and even most recently opened a Swedish bank account which by the way is very difficult.

I think to join the CIA, you have to go through a rigorous process like the one I went through opening my account. Those guys are thorough and petty at the same time. They almost asked whether cowrie shells are a form of currency where I come from. I swear I could read it in between their questions!

The most important part of the whole integration process is to learn Swedish and that’s why it’s important you register for SFI (Swedish for immigrants) when you first arrive. No matter who you are, if you have plans to live here you must learn the language because most employers require you to produce SFI certification when hunting for a job.  As a journalist writing for a Swedish newspaper you can imagine how important this is for me. I feel very bad whenever someone has to translate my articles. The right word here is helpless!

I’m the only African and black person in a class of 20 people. The other nineteen people are from Middle East, India, South America and some other European countries. My first day was quite dramatic. First as soon as the tutors announced that we should switch off our phones, my alarm went off.  My alarm itself is dramatic. It’s a  crowing cock. Yeah, the villager in me was exposed. And it’s in such situations that your phone decides to hang. I just wanted to die. Someone even asked if I brought poultry to class!

My embarrassing situation was quickly forgotten when one of my classmates blurted out to the tutor: “When will you be done talking? I need to drink water. I just can’t sit here all day!”

The teacher just went quiet and showed him where to get water.

I doubt that guy meant any harm. I guess it’s a combination of language barrier, background and upbringing. A simple ‘excuse me’ would have done though. If this had happened in Kenya, by now one of them, either the tutor or student would be trending online. Someone would have recorded and released the video online. Then a battalion of hashtags would have followed debating whether the tutor should resign.

I have to go back to learning Swedish nouns and pronouns. See you on the next post!

 

 

 

 

Gothenburg, a city without secrets!

Women whispering — Image by © Image Source/Corbis

Gothenburg is a very small city. So small, that I know when a beggar’s spot has been taken over. So small, that I have met the same global warming propagandist (and they are many) fifteen times in the seventy something days I have lived here.

Living in a small city means that everyone is involved in each others business in one way or another. It means that if I fry my food with coconut oil the neighbours will know. And you wonder why I cook my Ugali at 3am? I bought a 2kg packet for 70 kroner (sh 770). I will use it sparingly.

 

See, a week after I got here I found met a Kenyan friend from Facebook in a shopping mall and he called out my name. Of course I was excited to meet someone from my home country.We agreed to meet but that is yet to happen.  A few days later, while attending the Social Democrats press conference, I texted a friend in Italy and shared how lonely it could get sometimes.

Swedish journalists, unlike other journalists I have met elsewhere, are a bit antisocial. So, my friend in Italy immediately recommended that I meet her friend who had lived in Gothenburg longer. Everything happened so fast and in a few minutes we were going to meet outside Gothia Towers. Well, until a phone call came in and I had to cancel the meet up to go and check out somethings on the other side of the city. So I cancelled the meet up. Then I got distracted by  group of refugee’s demonstrating and decided to take pictures. Guess who is right infront of me as I walk out of the demo point? Yeap, the lady I had just cancelled with.  I knew it was a small town indeed!

Sweetheart not so sweet!

A few days later, I mentioned that I was Kenyan to a group of Swedes that I had just met and they laughed out loud. Turns out a Kenyan woman once lived in their neighborhood did not leave a reputation to be desired. She shared bed sheets with everyone. Infact, one night at a house party, she got too farmiliar with almost all the men in attendance. It hit me, people talk!

A friend recently invited me for an event in the city center and  I really enjoyed myself. Nice reggae music, that got me feeling bomboclat and tings. it felt like a little Jamaica in Europe. It was like the UN. We had Zimbabwe, Uganda, Tanzania and few hyper Swedes who love reggae. I was so excited and while trying to find out when the next event would take place my new friend cautioned me not to get too attached to the group. Turns out African men have attached their DNA on each other’s faces over the ‘blonde’ Swedish girls while the women have lost a strand of hair or two fighting over these ‘tall, dark and handsome’  men.

In a few days, I will be three months old in this city of the Rain forest. I have a lot to learn  in this Country of the vikings but the most important lesson for me is to be discreet and selfish with my activities!

 

 

Sweetheart not so sweet!

It’s three months now  since I relocated to Sweden. And a lot has happened to me. So much that I feel like I have lived here for a decade. Infact, these activities are the main reason I began blogging again.

Most of it has been laughable but there are two incidences that have left me in shock.

Towards the end my first month here a man harassed me at the bus stop.  I had a meeting that went on to almost 9.30pm and on my way home I decide to pass through a store to get a few supplies. Some guy followed me out and asked if I wanted to go home with him to drink some vodka. I politely declined thinking he was part the notorious A-laget  (Swedish alcoholics).

Ambushed by a gypsy!

He was persistent  and declared he was from Italy. I could clearly see he was an Arab from looks and accent. I’m not sure why he would lie about that either. Not unless it’s cool to be followed home by an Italian. I walked faster towards the bus stop which by now was clearly empty. He followed me, inquiring whether my bum and boobs were real or if it had some silicon in it. Then he declared that he was willing to even pay me to go home with him so that I could ‘please him’.

I was very pissed off and was about  to beat the hell out of him then I remembered that I was in Sweden where shouting someone’s name in the streets is already frowned upon (I have been insulted for laughing out loud. Ok, fine! I laughed too much and frankly that could have annoyed even the wildest animal.) Where were we, guy followed me to the bus stop, tried to corner me but I swung my gym bag and walked away very fast to the nearest crowd. He shouted ‘Goodbye Sweetheart. I will call you’.

I had forgotten about that  until  recently  while walking to the bus stop from the gym. It was at 10am, on a public holiday, when a black Mercedes slowed down beside me. A middle-aged Arab guy waves and I look away thinking he was waving at someone else; perhaps two blonde girls walking towards me.

He then sped off and parked right ahead of the store that I was clearly walking towards.

He pulled down his window and shouts: “C’mon sweetheart, let’s come inside. Let’s talk.” 10 am?

Where do people get these guts?

I thought moving to a first world country meant that I was taking a break from sexual harassment. I was like phewks! No more cat calling and risking being undressed for a while but no. It got worse!

And the worst part is that I still don’t know how to deal with this. Normally in Kenya, I would have faced the man and gave him a piece of my mind. But now I’m in a new country dealing with people from different backgrounds. I have to be careful how I address some issues lest I’m tagged racist or violent!

 

DISCLAIMER: This post is just meant to highlight what happened to me. I mean no harm towards any race. We are all equal!