Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A bird in the hand is not worth two in the bush

me posing with gun
A proud little nomad posing with his pellet gun and squinting into the sun. Taken at my childhood home in Matola, Mozambique.
grandmother, mother and uncle
My teenage mother and uncle with my grandmother on a riverbank outside Johannesburg. My uncle is supporting his gun - they must have been shooting at birds or hoping to do so.

I shot my first bird at eight soon after having been given a pellet gun by my uncle. Both he and my mother had grown up shooting flying things with alacrity. It was thought that a pellet gun would be a great source of fun for me.

They were right.

I loved shooting bottles and tin cans off walls. A masala (*), especially if overripe and hit in the right place, exploded impressively. Loquats and marulas didn’t explode but hitting them took much more skill. Shooting at birds began as soon as I got the gun. It was what you did with a gun. Boys that didn’t have guns, killed birds with catapults. And none of them had a mother who waxed lyrical about her youthful shooting sprees and immediately christened my gun by shooting several mousebirds. Their limp, soft, warm bodies fascinated me.

I wanted to shoot one too.

mousebirdShooting a bird wasn’t as easy as shooting fruit or tin cans. Aiming while pointing a gun upwards wasn’t that simple - I always missed or they’d fly away before I had time to shoot. I decided to ‘cheat’. There was a very large marula tree in the paddock that was always full of birds engorging themselves on the fruit and the fat mopani worms that infested the tree at certain times of the year. The paddock gate was just the right height for an eight-year old to rest a gun on it while taking aim. I took aim and shot. A small green bird plumetted to the ground. With a loud shout of glee, I ran towards it.

My first bird!

It’s broken body lay amongst the rotting fruit; blood trickled out of its beak and through a hole in its chest. Instead of picking it up immediately, I stood looking at it. Watching its blood stain the ground. I didn’t want to touch it, I wanted to run away. I wanted to hide.

I picked it up and wept.

This was colonial Africa. Animals and birds were being killed around me all the time. Killed for sport and slaughtered for food. On festive occasions, our neighbours would sometimes slaughter a pig by slitting its throat and letting it bleed to death. The chickens we ate were often slaughtered by the cook in the backyard. My mother continued using my gun to shoot birds. The better shots amongst my friends killed with their catapults. None of this bothered me but I never killed again.

Not until many years later, that is.

(*) also known as groenklapper, elephant orange, monkey ball, monkey orange, Natal orange, spiny monkey ball, kaffir orange, mpapa, mtonga, angora

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Time for a Spring clean

Yes, I know that Spring seems light years away with this weather but it's time to do a bit of spring-cleaning of this blog. There's quite a bit to do but, for the time being, I've limited it to getting my links in order.

Some of them have had to be deleted because the blogs no longer exist:
  • Xmichra decided to stop blogging as a concession to relationship problems
  • Nyasha (coffee addict) still has a presence at world wide photoshoot but I miss her 'proper' blog. She still needs to explain why she deleted it. Cow!!
  • Girl with a dot com has also gone and will be sorely missed.
I've also deleted those that I no longer read or that don't get updated anymore. Some of those that are updated very infrequently have been left as I'm hoping that they'll get updated again at some stage.

And there are several new ones to add:
  • Mike introduced me to Caroline and we met a couple of weeks ago when Mike spent the weekend here. She's one of the original bloggers, you know.
  • The fabulous minge is someone who stumbled across my blog and has been entertaining me with his eccentric view on life.
  • I'm not sure how Anjou found me but he seems to like me a lot so that says a lot about him. But, apart from that, someone who seems to love cows because they have four stomachs and one heart has to be good.
  • Herschelian is a woman who loves to write about three things - reading, ranting and recipes. I don't do too much ranting but I love reading and recipes so she's on a winning wicket. Being South African (even if she refers to herself as an ex-South African!) helps too!
  • Another introduction from Mike is Non-working Monkey, who has just moved to Amsterdam from the UK. She seems cool but that would apply to any introduction from Mike.
  • My link to James introduced me to 'blonde but bright', an American PhD student who has lived in Amsterdam for quite a while. Beware of her pop-up that could fall foul of your web-censor if you click on her at work. :-)
  • His link also introduced me to Alexis, a great source of comments on Dutch life by an outsider.
Go read them, I'm sure you'll like them as much as I do. Further spring-cleaning will be evident in the next few weeks.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Albert Cuyp

in the marketToday's wanderings took me to the Albert Cuyp street market in De Pijp. I'd been told about it by lots of people but was still unprepared for the glorious assault of colour, smell and variety of the place.

Judge for yourself.

chocolate piecesNo 24 trambike thingsAlbert CuypAlbert Cuyp
nutspicklescheesemore cheeseboxer
flower stallclogsincenseflowerscabbage
Amsterdam xxx ponchokiddy stuffcovered headstorsoswigs
fish mongereelorange juiceAlbert Cuyp straatbike jam
Just as I was taking the picture of the tram, I was accosted by the oddest creature. He was very short, quite aged and dressed in the weirdest outfit. I'd have said his sex was indeterminate but despite his face being caked in heavy makeup, I could tell that a man of sorts lurked beneath as his five 'o clock shadow was quite visible. An aged, small dog (a chihuahua?) was firmly clasped to his chest.

His expression was angry, as was the tone of his voice. He barked at me in Dutch so it took me a while to work out what he was saying.

'Did you take a picture of me?'

He was reassured when I told him that I hadn't and strode (can a very short person stride?) away. Poor guy, he must have people taking pictures of him all the time.

I really wish that I'd been able to take his picture!

Anyway, I know where I'll be buying my fruit and vegetables when I have the chance to get there. Which, alas, will only be Saturdays.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The Quintessential Amsterdam experience (*)?

I joined colleagues for drinks last night. By the time the trams had stopped running, they were in the mood to go clubbing in De Pijp but I was the only one amongst them without a bicycle. I was happy to go home but they were having none of it.

One of them would give me a lift on the back of his bicycle.

Although they’d been there before, we got lost so I was given a long, scenic journey through Amsterdam on the back of a bike. Once we found it, we decided that the queue was too long. We went to another place near Leidseplein instead. Yet another long queue put an end to the idea of going clubbing.

A five minute walk later, and I was home.

(*) Mike’s term.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Does Razaq really take me for a moegoe?

Like most of the rest of you, I get my fair share of offers to buy viagra at hugely discounted prices and offers to increase my penis to huge proportions. Along with offers of loans, university degrees and requests to check my bank details (phishing) for banks that I’ve never banked with. Unlike many of you, including Rob, I’ve been spared the various scams (419 fraud) that promise untold riches if you’re stupid enough to provide them with your bank details.

Until a few days ago, that is.

From: aj.meutgeert@home.nl
Subject: Email from Samiu
Date: Wed, 17 Jan 2007 19:42:54 +0100

Dear Sir/Madam,

This letter may come to you as a surprise due to the fact that we have not yet met. I have to say that I have no intentions of causing you any pains so i decided to contact you through this medium.

As you read this, I don't want you to feel sorry for me, because, I believe everyone will die someday. My name is Razaq Samiu, a merchant in Dubai, in the U.A.E. I have been diagnosed with prostate and esophageal Cancer that was discovered very late due to my laxity in caring for my health. It has defiled all form of medicine and right now, I have only about a few months to live according to medical experts.

I have not particularly lived my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone not even myself but my business. Though I am very rich, I was never generous, I was always hostile to people and only focus on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it. Now that I know my time is near, I have willed and given most of my properties and assets to my immediate and extended family members and as well as a few close friends and Schools in the UAE. I have decided to give alms to charity organizations, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth. So far, I have distributed money to some charity organizations in the U.A.E, England and Ireland. Now that my health has deteriorated so badly, I cannot do this myself any more. I once asked members of my family to close one of my accounts and donate the money, which I have there to charity organization in Bulgaria, they refused and kept the money to themselves. Hence, I do not trust them anymore, as they seem not to be contended with what I have left for them. The last of my money which is the huge cash that I deposit in a bank in England Uk.

I want you to help me collect this deposit and dispatched it to charity organizations and let them know that it is I Razaq Samiu that is making this generous donation.

I am writing this from my laptop computer in my hospital bed in England where I wait for my time to come. If you are interested to help me i will give you more information about this like the amount that i deposited in the bank and Contact of the bank so you can contact them. I will also send you a picture of myself when i am on my laptop in the hospital.

Note that you will take 20% out of the funds and give 80% to the charity organizations. I pray that God uses you to support and assist me with good heart God be with you.

If you can help respond back to me on my private email:

Razaq Samiu

Between receiving Razaq's heart-rending email and now, I've received a couple of 'romance-scams' on a gay chat site. Obviously, my time of innocence when it comes to being the target of scammers has come to an end.

Do you think I should reply and see what happens next? It would be interesting to see his picture, don’t you think? But, while it would be interesting, it’s definitely not original. Some people have elevated the activity of ‘scam baiting’into a fine art.

Whole websites are devoted to it.

I remembered reading about a particular scam-baiting website that specialises in hoodwinking the ‘scamsters’ into doing the most ridiculous things: posing for pics with hilarious signs, making elaborate carvings, actually get tattoed, etc. You can see some of the results below.

Another one is called 'Bait a Mugu'. According to them, a mugu is a 'term used by the scammers among themselves to describe their intended victims. Roughly translated this term mean "big fool"'. Now hang on, that word sounds suspiciously like the Afrikaans word, 'moegoe'. According to Wiktionary, 'moegoe' is a South African pejorative word meaning an idiot or a mampara. It suggests that the word may be derived from 'moeg ou', the Afrikaans term for 'tired person'. If that's the case, the word has travelled all the way up to West Africa. Alternatively, like many other Afrikaans words, it's a truly African word that has been adopted by Afrikaans.

Here's a selection of 'trophies' from '419 eater'.

up the arsemu6ueggnog 1eggnog 2eggnog 3
felch mecarved joystickcarved keyboardfancy dressstargate
semencocky suckycocky suckyfish and breaddeppen girl

You know, while finding those pics really amusing, I started to feel sorry for these people. Poor, ignorant people, trying to make money by any which way. There even seemed something racist about the whole thing.

Hang on, Nomad, don't be such a wet, bleeding-heart liberal! These guys are responsible for pilfering nearly $200 million from Americans annually and costing the UK economy £150m a year. Ok, so people are stupid to fall for this sort of thing but these scammers aren't people one should be feeling sorry for.

Phew, bleeding-heart moment over. Here are some more pics:

tattoo 1tattoo 2prostate girlsgladiatorpissed his bed
tossers and slappersfill my crackwankerchilledpornstar

Ok, while I won’t go into a whole scam-baiting exercise, I’d still like to see Razaq’s pic. Watch this space for further developments.